Decline of Legal Education in Egypt

The quality of most legal education in Egypt has been in decline for decades. So has judicial training. It was not always so. Egypt used to be the leader in legal and judicial education in the Arab Middle East. Some are striving to restore that elite leadership status.

The legal education of judges begins with law school, which is an undergraduate course of study leading to a Bachelor of Laws degree (LL.B.) At one time, legal education in Egypt held elite status, but has since become a dumping ground for those who fail to achieve proficiency test scores that qualify for what the government plainly deems to be more desirable professions.

For example, once an elite (undergraduate) institution, the law school at Cairo University at one time had only 400 students, and its graduates were among the nation’s leading intellectuals and liberals. So many government leaders were among its graduates that it was called the "college of ministers."

Now, the same but very much transformed law school has around 40,000 students. And, it is only one of around 12 law schools in the country.

As the number of law students has dramatically risen, the quality of most undergraduate legal education has dramatically declined. 

Legal education, like most other education in Egypt, has been reduced almost entirely to rote memorization, with virtually no training in critical thinking or analytical reasoning skills.

The in-house training of judges and public prosecutors has followed a similar pattern of decline in both quantity and quality.

And yet, Egypt is blessed with some of the finest legal minds to be found anywhere in the world. The system does not lift them to those levels naturally. For the most part they have elevated themselves, and many have sought elite post-graduate education at some of the world’s finest law schools.

A case in point is Dr. Amr Shalakany, an Egyptian professor of law who received bachelors and masters degrees in law from Cairo University, then went on to earn an SJD (Doctor of Judicial Science) degree from Harvard Law School. Among his publications is an excellent article about the history of legal education in Egypt, available at this link: