Professor Jeff Redding, Dean School of Law, shares his vision for the School

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The recently appointed Dean of the Shaikh Ahmad Hassan School of Law (SAHSOL) at LUMS, Professor Jeff Redding, has a long and close association with the University. He began teaching at LUMS as an Adjunct Faculty member in 2001 and taught various courses, including Law and Politics in Pakistan. He then joined LUMS again as Visiting Faculty in 2014 to teach Comparative Law. 

Professor Redding is a Harvard University and University of Chicago alum, with a special affinity to Asia, especially Pakistan. He has also worked at the Sustainable Development Policy Institute in Islamabad as a Visiting Research Associate, during which he initially met and worked with several of his colleagues in SAHSOL.

Passionate about Law, Professor Redding is equipped with extensive experience in many reputable educational institutions. He has worked at the Melbourne Law School, University of Melbourne, as a Senior Research Fellow and has also previously held research fellowships at Yale Law School and Harvard Law School. 

In this interview, Professor Redding shares interesting insights on life, his profession, and how he aims to make SAHSOL a leading law school in the region. 

Educational background

“I have been blessed to have studied at some of the finest institutions in the world, including Harvard College for my BA, and the University of Chicago for my JD. For me, what was more important than my formal studies were my years of informal studies, conversations, and visits to all corners of the world. I strongly believe that classroom learning is an important part of our higher educational enterprise, and students need to be lifelong learners and not just classroom learners.”

His diverse research interests 

“I do research at the intersection of law, religion, and gender. My recent book, A Secular Need: Islamic Law and State Governance in Contemporary India (University of Washington Press, Global South Asia series, 2020) is an exploration of the secular state’s multiple dependencies on non-state Muslim actors in India, and the politics of hate, love, and need that these dependencies set in motion. My newest research project is on transgender rights in South Asia, and the largely uncharted terrains that this rights discourse has travelled, as well as the multiple voices and histories—both local and global—influencing it.”

The importance of mentors

“I have had many mentors, and many kinds of mentors. Generally, for people, no single person is going to be a lifelong guide and I think that it would be unwise to put that much expectation or pressure on any single person or relationship. Seek out multiple mentors, multiple voices, multiple points of reference. You may be surprised at the diversity of pathways that open in front of you!”

Why he values his association with LUMS

“I first taught at LUMS back in 2001, and again in 2014, and have otherwise been well acquainted with its unique approach to teaching and research in Pakistan. In many important ways, LUMS has opened up numerous personal and professional opportunities for me in Pakistan and abroad. It is really an honour to contribute back to the institution.”

Why aspiring law graduates should join LUMS

“If you want to learn about law and society in Pakistan, and globally, with a keen attention to interdisciplinary perspectives and lessons—and you also want to carefully read lots of lengthy and sometimes difficult judgments and academic analyses of law, then SAHSOL will be a great place for you!”

Faculty involvement in future decisions at SAHSOL:  

“I believe in a collaborative style of leadership where multiple voices lend their expertise on important decisions facing us and multiple voices are supported by our common enterprise.”

The role of students at SAHSOL: 

“Without students, we would likely not have a university. Students are obviously vital to what we are trying to do teaching-wise (and often research-wise) at SAHSOL. Their perspectives are important and I will listen to them. I have already learned from them, without a doubt. But teaching and learning are peculiar and special enterprises in this world, and teachers (by definition) do have perspectives and experiences that students do not. I would ask that students conceptualise themselves as learners, rather than customers. The market paradigm does not suit education, in my opinion.”

How the Centre for Chinese Legal Studies will benefit SAHSOL, LUMS, and law students:

“SAHSOL is a Pakistani law school with a strong role to play in South Asia, Asia as a whole, and the world. China is a country with a rich history, and an important set of experiences vis-à-vis law. Pakistani students should be better acquainted with our Chinese neighbour, and vice-versa. The world is transforming quickly, and my hope is that the Centre for Chinese Legal Studies will help us reach a better world sooner rather than later.” 

Online teaching and how it will be retained once the campus opens:

“Without a doubt, it has taken everyone some time to get used to online learning, and it will take some time more before we fully understand its potential as well as its limitations. We are in a great experiment, not of our choosing, at the moment. But I do not think that fighting against the reality of the coronavirus, its lethal dangers, and how it has necessarily changed our world is going to make anything better right now. Let us see what is still possible for humans in this brave new world.”

His vision for the future of SAHSOL: 

“I want SAHSOL not only to be the best law school in South Asia, but also one of the great law schools of the world, where scholars and students from around Pakistan, the region, and the world yearn to come and participate. I think we will get there.
I believe the first year in any job is a time to mostly listen and learn. There is also an incredible amount of behind-the-scenes work that our talented SAHSOL team accomplishes every day to make sure teaching and research go forward, and I am very much engaged in that too. Modestly, I hope in this first year to broaden students’ exposure to legal scholarship and how it can change our world and ourselves, and also to develop some interesting new learning opportunities for students. We are in the middle of a global health and economic crisis right now, however, and our first mission should be to keep safe and sane.”

His role as Dean of the School:

“If I were to succinctly summarise my role, it is to be an advocate and cheerleader for the faculty, students, and staff of SAHSOL.”

Lahore Lahore hai!

“Lahore is absolutely one of the great cities of the world. I first stepped foot in Lahore back in 1996, and it has grown enormously since then. But at its heart, it is still a place that embraces learning, raucous humor, and a joie de vivre. It is genuinely a special place, and I am so happy to have the chance to live here again!”

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