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In this essay, the author looks at the role of the short-term rule of law consultant in a developing country. The setting is Togo in francophone Africa and the State Department's mandate for the consultant is to help establish a pro bono indigent legal aid program with participation by the national bar association and the country's principal law school — in one week's time. Using the device of a daily journal, the author describes (1) the background for the visit, (2) the series of exchanges with his hosts from the US Embassy, bar association and Université de Lomé, (3) the objectives for structural change in the spheres of education and practice, and (4) the Togolese legal, educational and political culture, particularly as influenced by its former colonizer, France.

The centerpiece of the visit is a five-day seminar that culminates in a recommendation to implement a long-standing free legal aid statute through executive action and to create a law school-based legal clinic or clinique juridique. The author tries to capture some of the flavor of the six-day experience, reflect on the capacity of short-term consultants to have an impact on legal reform in the Global South (or countries transitioning to democracy), and offer some advice for those who are similarly engaged in rule of law support and solidarity activities. The article ends with tips for the consultant and a blueprint for establishing a francophone legal clinic.