Reflections on legal education and the globalization debate
Interesting one-day symposium at Tilburg U. on the globalization of law. Thrust of the commentary by participants, mainly Europeans, was that globalization is inevitable and the principal challenge is to give adequate theoretical account. Emphasis on big picture theory is interesting, but, I confess left me cool. I have no objection at all to ruminations at 30,000 feet. Rather, what was (to me) peculiar was the essentialist claims about law as inextricably and inevitably global — the phrase “post-national” was frequently invoked. Much more to say on this vital topic than can be accommodated in a blog post. But let me say just a couple words about the connection between the wave of “global law” theory and trends in legal education:
What was striking about the meeting of law deans which meeting accompanied the Tilburg conference (see earlier post on the Law Schools Global League) was just how much heterogeneity we are experiencing in international legal education. There were at least half a dozen palpably distinct models of degree programs illustrated by this reasonably representative crowd. Moreover, vigorous discussion at the meeting was focused on myriad forms of information delivery, comparative emphases on teaching and scholarship, different economic models of legal education, and competing frameworks of bench-bar relations. In short, we saw in action the pluralism of legal education. Meaningful globalization in legal education, as I took from the discussions at the Tilburg meetings, includes at least — and perhaps at most — scrupulous attention to other practices and rigorous comparative analysis. What is doesn’t (oughtn’t??) mean is a move toward a “post-national” regime of legal education, one which sets out universalizing best practices and implements a grand vision of how modern legal education ought to exist on the new international stage.
As I travel around Europe over the next several days, I will offer some additional reflections on these ideas. At the risk of some self-indulgent naval-gaving, I do think the challenge for American law schools — including Northwestern Law School — is to think hard about how to function in this pluralistic, and rapidly changing, world.
Comments (non-anonymous; constructive) very welcome.