ETHODOLOGY AND STRENGTHS
DESCRIPTION OF THE METHODOLOGICAL PROCESS
The following description of an ISDLS proposal for Jordan (made to USIA) exemplifies the ISDLS methodology, and the process through which information is exchanged with partner countries.
In the course of its experience, ISDLS has developed a comprehensive methodology for comparative legal studies of the type proposed here.
The success of past ISDLS collaborations to modernize the existing legal processes in Partner Countries, without disturbing the integrity of those processes, illustrates the originality of the ISDLS methodology. One of the most important tenets of the ISDLS approach is to expand the indigenous processes of the Partner Countries to meet modern needs. Whatever legal modernization plan is devised, it must be either readily integrated into an indigenous dispute resolution process or derived from an existing, culturally accepted dispute resolution function.
Lasting Jordanian legal reform cannot succeed without a thorough observation of the modern institutions and processes, accompanied by discussions with legal professionals who are experienced in legal reform, experts in the field of modern legal mechanisms, and informed about the existing legal system and tradition in Jordan. San Francisco, where ISDLS is headquartered, has the unique capacity of offering the following: (1) the capacity to expose all of the modern legal mechanisms of interest to Jordan; (2) a city, famous for its multi-cultural population and diverse legal community; (3) the opportunity to confer with a collection of judges, lawyers, legal scholars, and court administrators, who are the leaders in the study and operation of these mechanisms; (4) the observation of the necessary administration and functions of the institutions which house the mechanisms; and (5) the opportunity to work, in a collaborative fashion, with legal professionals who understand the Jordanian legal process and legal tradition.
In addition, the following ISDLS strengths distinguish the Institutes unique capacity to meet Jordan and the USIA's objectives.
First, ISDLS delegates are the leaders in both the U.S. procedural reforms of interest to Jordan and in the adaptation of those reforms to a diverse array of legal environments. Case management and early neutral evaluation have their genesis in San Francisco. In recognition of this leadership, under the Civil Reform Act of 1991, Congress designated the San Francisco federal court as one of only three demonstration districts in the entire country. As such, Northern California is the only U.S. district whose federal courts use all forms of court-annexed ADR, including arbitration, mediation, early neutral evaluation, and judicial settlement. In addition, only San Francisco has a full-time ADR Program Coordinator, who is responsible not only for the administration of the ADR programs, but also for the training of the ADR neutrals necessary for an effective ADR program. Any ADR reform requires some accompanying administrative structuring, which San Francisco has the capability of showcasing in its federal court.
Second, ISDLS has maximized cost-sharing in all facets of its past programs. The participating American judges, lawyers, mediators, court administrators, and the ISDLS Board of Directors have informed ISDLS that they are committed to donating their time to this Study, as they have in all ISDLS legal studies. ISDLS has recently hired an experienced project administrator in order to stimulate U.S. private sector support. In addition, the Ministry of Justice has again offered to sponsor an additional ten delegates to observe the operation of U.S. dispute resolution mechanisms.
Third, ISDLS knows that case management and ADR cannot be introduced to an indigenous legal system without professional consideration to the existing traditional processes, necessary for the effective administration of these mechanisms. In its detailed reports and assessments from past legal studies in, inter alia, Egypt, the Palestinian National Authority, Tunisia, and India, ISDLS has been able to work with the Partner Country legal study groups to determine points of convergence between the two systems in order to facilitate the incorporation of modern dispute resolution mechanisms with the least possible disruption to the indigenous legal system.
Fourth, ISDLS has already completed half of the Study. In two previous phases (noted above), ISDLS exposed Jordanian lawyers, judges, and academics to modern U.S. dispute resolution functions and mechanisms. ISDLS provided a theoretical orientation through authoritative papers and lectures, question and answer sessions, and panel discussions. The ISDLS also allowed Jordanian experts to observe critical features of the U.S. process through demonstrations, again followed by question and answer periods. The orientation to these processes and the cultivation of Jordanian interest in adapting them to local needs was further developed in daily seminars with a select number of Jordanian legal opinion leaders. In each of the ISDLS studies, a legal reporter transcribed the discussions of every meeting and seminar held during the programs. The rigorous detail of the transcriptions help to substantiate the comprehensive and reliable nature of the studies. The ability to complete the Study, given prior progress, would preserve continuity and achieve economies of scale which other groups cannot match.
Fifth, ISDLS has empirically demonstrated a keen ability to achieve its program objectives. Having had vast experience in the assessment and reform of legal processes throughout the world and, in particular, the Middle East, ISDLS has conducted legal studies in thirty countries. Specifically, ISDLS has completed successful assessments in Egypt, the Palestinian National Authority, Tunisia, and India. The study in Egypt has led to significant reforms in the country's civil justice process (case management and judicial mediation). The Egyptian study has also led to a major publication in a leading international law journal. The Palestinian study has also served as the authoritative assessment of civil and criminal justice processes for the U.S. government and international organizations, such as the World Bank. An Indian assessment will also be published this winter in the New York University Journal of International Law and Politics.
Sixth, ISDLS has a unique acumen in the study and assessment of the civil law tradition, similar to the legal tradition in Jordan. Of the thirty countries with whom ISDLS has worked, twenty have civil law traditions. ISDLS has also conferred with over 125 International Visitors from countries with civil law traditions to discuss the problems and operation of the mechanisms within their dispute resolution systems.
Seventh, no American group other than ISDLS has the benefit of preexisting friendships and a close, collegial working relationship with the Jordanian delegates, who will be responsible for the design of civil justice modernization. The ISDLS has worked with over 150 Jordanian legal professionals since 1994 on the modernization of Jordan's dispute resolution processes. Both the Study Group and ISDLS are eager to build on the momentum of prior meetings.
Finally, Phases Three and Four of the Study will benefit from the success of past ISDLS Legal Studies of Jordan and of other nations. The Study will achieve several complementary objectives. The Study will enhance the U.S. and Jordan's mutual understanding of each other through an exchange of observations and discussions on their respective legal systems and legal traditions. The Study's exchange will also encourage a greater sharing of information between the two countries. Also, the Study will promote long-term institutional and individual ties between Jordan and the U.S. Projects, such as past ISDLS legal studies, that combine U.S. interests of democracy, support for international commercial integration, conflict resolution, and professional exchange are designed to have a cumulative impact at a minimum cost. In working with Jordan on a comparative legal study, ISDLS will underline the many points of common interest with respect to the educational and cultural interests, developments (legal and non-legal), and achievements of the U.S. and Jordan in order to assist in the development of friendly, sympathetic and peaceful relations between the U.S. and Jordan.