The Nexus of the Study and Practice of Law and Public Administration A Need for Rediscovery of the Debate and Principles?

Article Authors: B C Basheka and O Sabiiti


There is no doubt that public administrators in their pursuit of efficient public service delivery to the citizens need knowledge of law. Lawyers too need to understand the workings of administrative systems as law is practised in such systems. This position was highly recognised in ancient and classical discourses of public administration and by scholars who formulated the concept of the state and the importance of law in society.

Lawyers practise their profession in a public administration context and as such their understanding of how the public sector operates in terms of laws made, the implementation of the laws and the judicial functioning are matters that need not much emphasis. While classical literature of law and public administration recognised the intimate relationship between the two, modern scholarship tends to favour an independent disciplinary focus. Whereas societies have evolved through different stages, each of these stages has had rules for managing the needs and expectations of the citizens.

Public administration and law are practised in the three branches of government–executive, legislature and judiciary. Lawyers go to law schools while public administrators go to schools of public administration or public policy. The central question addressed by this article is whether there is a renewed need for the teachers of law and public administration to appreciate and apply the synergy between the two disciplines.

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