(Journal of Legal Education Vol. 3, No.2 December 2010 )
(LLB, LLM, Lecturer in Law Haramaya University College of Law.)
Legislations enacted by the different organs of the regional and federal states and precedents (interpretation of law given by the Federal Supreme Court Cassation Division and the decision of the House of Federation on constitutional issues) comprise the sources of law in Ethiopia. These materials should be easily accessible to the public to let it guide its behavior in accordance with the law. In addition, access to law paves the way for the establishment of the rule of law.
There is, however, a serious problem of accessing legislations and decisions in Ethiopian law schools. The lack of access is often caused by many factors, namely, lack of commitment, poor attention, financial constraints, bureaucratic acquisition process, lack of regular publication and distribution, geographical limitations, etc. Law schools being the naissance of lawyers, have the most compelling need of accessing these documents. Unlike ignorance of law by ordinary citizen that affect that individual alone, ignorance of a lawyer (who will eventually become a judge, attorney, or a prosecutor) endengers the public. Legislations and decisions, moreover, are periodic in a sense that upon their issuance, they might repeal or suspend earlier laws or decisions. This nature of the documents, in turn, requires their prompt communication to law schools and the public in general to make them effective.
This article tries to assess the challenges and possible outlets regarding the accessibility of these documents by law schools. To address these issues, the writer has used a combination of methodologies. Most of the data for the research gathered through interview and questionnaires from different law schools. Literature review has also been made to appreciate the necessity of these legal documents, effect of poor access to the legal education and observe the lessons of foreign law schools. In addition, documents like legislation have also been consulted wherever found necessary.
The article is divided in to three chapters. It starts with an introduction followed by the first chapter addressing three more points: history of publication of legal documents in the world and Ethiopia, the kinds of documents statutorily required to be published in Ethiopia together with the responsible organs, and laws schools‘attachment to these documents. The Second chapter is devoted for assessing the means used by law schools to access these legal materials, and the effect of poor access on the legal education. The tasks we ought to do to enhance accessibility of documents to best support the legal education is dealt in the third chapter. And, finally, the conclusion follows.