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January 12, 2012


Going Global?

by dan rodriguez

In his speech before the AALS, referenced in an earlier post and described elsewhere in the blogosphere, Judge Cabranes took special exception to the growing movement in American law schools to look beyond U.S. borders in their curricula and other academic initiatives.  While certainly right that this was a distinct trend, his ire was rather puzzling.

In a future post, I will say some more specific things about Northwestern Law School’s particular global goals but, for now, I am anxious to open up a comment thread to hear what readers think about the general objection.  Is the expanding internationalization of American law schools little more than a sinecure for law professors who crave foreign travel (one of the judge’s objections)?  Or is there a worthy substantive agenda at work in these efforts?

To be sure, a rather abstract way to ask the question, but looking at the matter from 20,000 feet or so may generate some useful conclusions — or at least impressions.

Comment thread is open!  Civil, constructive, and non-anonymous please; I’ll be, as always, moderating comments.

3 Comments Post a comment
  1. Tom Phillips
    Jan 12 2012

    I have seen only the NLJ’s summary of Judge Cabranes’ speech. From it, his criticism of the “cult of globalization” seems shallow, especially for a respected judicial scholar.

    But as a fusty ’64 Law graduate, I do agree with the criticism that everything (or perhaps better said, almost everything) after first year is student-chosen optional. Why so focused so early in one’s education? Is the typical pre-second year law student – even with some experience in the world between college and post-grad than most of my straight-to-law school generation had – really sufficient to finesse the second tier of basic courses?

    Early focus – early specialization in law education – seems to me like reading only what reflects our personal interests du jour rather than a good daily newspaper. The newspaper presents us with issues, events, analysis and ideas we might not choose for ourselves. Aren’t receptive ever-learning individuals better off with exposure to things not within their immediate preferences?

  2. Rob Hammesfahr
    Jan 13 2012

    I am a 78 Grad who works in Zurich. I only recall one course in international law when I was at NU law which I took. It was really interpretation and use of treaties in US courts. French, Germanic and other civil law was hardy mentioned.

    Judge Cabranes comments are well intentioned as to the need to improve the bar in the US but miss the need for the US bar and its judges to understand law outside the US.

    Over the past year, I have attended a series of conferences on collective redress in the EU, Latin America and Asia. These conferences underscore to me that many features of the US legal system that are unique in terms of independence of US judicial system, the size and diversity of the US, the importance of a strong bar with common law training and many other cultural and practical differences (availability of e filings, etc). The concepts of access to justice outside the US or the rule of law are extremely different by country.

    In the US, government is limited but in EU for example, government is local as the population is relatively small in many countries in the EU, many UE judges are poorly paid and have extremely limited roles, the private bar has limited finances and vision and business litigation is a very last resort as deemed a social evil in closed business communities. On the other hand, these countries have alternative methods of redress and approaches. There are many academic scholars comparing US, EU, Latin America and Asia legal systems to determine what is best approach in current facebook world.

    As one judge who sits with me on the Rand’s Institute for Civil Justice said, how does not export US law if there are not judges, no understanding of juries, and the the lawyers often have little or no legal training. Also the legal training could be undergraduate not graduate and lecture course with philosophy of law of most importance.

    I would encourage NU to lead in this area. Stanford, FIU and UT are the professors who I see at these conferences along with professors from Oxford and other English universities and other leading continental Europe law schools. Asia and emerging market law schools are reaching out for assistance to develop their law and its would be shame if NU did not contribute to this process.


  3. dan rodriguez
    Jan 14 2012

    Thank you for your comment. I agree 100% with your assessment and, moreover, I will do my best to assure that NU Law will play a key leadership role in global initiatives. We welcome your help in these endeavors. I look forward to meeting you in Zurich sometime down the road.


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