Law: In two weeks, 499 students will compete for the 25 seats in the country’s first law school, Jigme Singye Wangchuck School of Law (JSWSL).

Of the 499 applicants from 54 higher and central schools, 55 percent or 272 were women and 227 men.

JSWSL’s vice dean, Michael Peil, said: “Taking in only five percent of the applicants, we’re more selective than reputed law colleges in the West such as Stanford University.”

Besides being the first law school in the country, the school will groom lawyers in a unique dispute resolution cases.

The school attempts to marry western law and Bhutanese community law, Nangkha Nangdrig, which focuses on restorative justice and negotiating disputes based on mutually beneficial resolutions.

The curriculum is kept flexible and grounded in Bhutan’s traditions and national priorities to address the emerging needs of the country, said Sangay Dorjee, JSWSL’s Dean.  “As and when there is a need for certain course, for instance business, we’d introduce it.”

Sangay Dorjee said that the first home-grown lawyers would be “job-ready” from day one after graduation.  The five-year course devotes two years for practice in courts, including giving legal advice on government cases and clinics where they will simulate court hearings.

JSWSL officials said that they have studied the demand for lawyers in the country and expects that by the time the first batch of students graduate there will be more than 25 vacancies.

“Besides lawyers make best lawmakers,” Sangay Dorji said.

As of now, the school has not fixed any fee because all its students will be covered mostly by scholarships.

The school was established following a Royal Charter issued on February 21, 2015. The objective of the school is to provide legal education, to facilitate research in law and related fields, to promote cultural enrichment and traditional values.

“We don’t want people who are looking only for jobs, but those with passion and commitment,” Sangay Dorjee said. “Such people are hard to come by.”

The school has recruited seven faculty members for the courses that begin from July 3. The school is seeking funds to establish the Law School Trust Fund.

The school campus in Pangbisa, Paro is built with a project-tied assistance of Nu 500 million and is expected to be completed by mid-2019.

“Until then, we’ll be running the school in rented buildings in Taba,” Sangay Dorjee said.

The school has received requests for partnership from law schools from across the globe.

“What we’re doing here is what universities across the world wants to do, which is why many have shown interest to be our partners,” Michael Peil said.

Tshering Palden