The globalization of the American law school.

Position:Proceedings of the 101st Annual Meeting of the American Society of International Law: The Future of International Law - Discussion

The panel was convened at 2:45 p.m., Thursday, March 29, by its moderator, Chantal Thomas of the University of Minnesota Law School, who introduced the panelists: Joseph Weiler of New York University School of Law; William Alford of Harvard Law School; and Alex Aleinikoff of Georgetown University Law Center.


This panel is "The Globalization of the American Law School," and the idea is to explore recent developments and trends in institutional integration across borders in legal education--if we're actually doing what we should be doing in the project to globalize the system of legal training in the United States. And we're privileged to have with us three illustrious speakers who are pioneers in the area of globalizing legal education, as well as distinguished scholars.

So the way the panel's going to proceed is I will begin by introducing each of the speakers in turn and saying a little about them and then we'll just proceed alphabetically down the line.

First let me introduce our speakers in alphabetical order. To my immediate right we have Alex Aleinikoff, who is the Dean at Georgetown University Law Center. And prior to becoming the dean he directed the Comparative Citizenship Project at the Migration Policy Institute and was a professor on the Georgetown Law Faculty, also serving as Associate Dean for Research. He's authored some important works on immigration and in international law including Migration and International Legal Norms with Vincent Chetail, with Cambridge University Press, (1) and Semblances of Sovereignty: The Constitution, The State, and American Citizenship with Harvard University Press. (2)

Further down the line we have Bill Alford who is the Henry L. Stimson Professor of Law and the Vice Dean for the Graduate Program and International Legal Studies at Harvard Law School, where he's also the Director of East Asian Legal Studies. He is the author of several interesting works, including one on intellectual property and the other on emerging legal professions: To Steal A Book Is An Elegant Offense: Intellectual Property Law in Chinese Civilization with Stanford, (3) and Raising the Bar: The Emerging Legal Profession In East Asia with the East Asian Legal Studies Program at Harvard Law School. (4)

Last, but certainly not least, we have Professor Joe Weiler, who's the University Professor at NYU and the Director of its Global Law School Program, as well as the Director of the Jean Monnet Center for International and Regional Economic Law and Justice. He's also an honorary professor at University College, London and has also authored The EU, The WTO, and the NAFTA: Toward A Common Law of International Trade? with Oxford (5) as well as The Constitution of Europe: Do the New Clothes Have an Emperor? with Cambridge. (6) So, all of this is to say that we have with us speakers who are well aware of the institutional and substantive dimensions of legal scholarship and legal education. I'm just going to ask each of them to speak a little bit about what they've seen in their home institutions and more generally on this question of globalizing legal education in the US context. So without further ado I'll ask our first speaker--Professor Aleinikoff.

Remarks by Alex Aleinikoff **

I will talk about evolution toward a global law school. (I don't think we're actually at the stage of having something we could calla global law school.) Most law schools now boast of their global reach. If you look at law school websites you are likely to see a pretty picture of the Eiffel Tower of the Great Wall of China. I checked Georgetown's website today and saw a panel of flags of the nations and a quote from Justice O'Connor touting our international programs; we are certainly no different from other law schools in talking this way. Many law schools describe themselves as "global law schools," with study abroad programs, visiting foreign faculty, foreign LL.M. students, occasionally S.J.D. students, and a range of international and comparative courses. These are offered with different justifications and have evolved in different ways. Study abroad programs began as a way for students to get a break from routine, to travel, to obtain a liberal arts legal education through knowledge of other systems of law. LL.M. students for many schools are a source of income. Visiting faculty add to our curriculum.

There's nothing wrong with these programs. But I'm wondering if there's an underlying theory or a teleology to these programs as a whole. Let me start by identifying four goals of the "globalization" of American law schools and then describe three stages of in the development of a global legal education.

First is the comparative goal: learning about other systems gives students critical purchase on their own system. It even occasionally teaches American students a bit of humility, undercutting assumptions that we've got the only sensible sort of legal system.

Second, global programs educate our students about modern legal practice. Sad to say it, but in this respect legal education is significantly behind legal practice. Many of the graduates I speak to are regularly involved in matters in that cross borders and require knowledge, appreciation, and understanding of different legal systems. It behooves us as legal educators to begin to offer courses, to stimulate thinking, on these issues.

Third, thinking on a global level allows us to identify, and perhaps make progress on, cross-border problems.

Now let me suggest a fourth and more radical purpose for the globalization of legal education: law schools should take on forms consistent with new forms of legal authority in the world. I want to work my way up to this claim after briefly describing the three stages in the development of legal education. I'll call these three stages: internationalization, transnationalization, and finally, globalization.

Internationalization is the traditional form--one that I think many schools are now moving beyond. It is characterized by a focus on international law and international institutions, with visits of international faculty to teach international-based courses like trade law, EU law, international arbitration. Under this model, foreign students are admitted as LL.M.s to do work that advances their studies at their home institutions of in their legal practice. Study abroad programs are established so that faculty can go overseas and teach their students in foreign places.

The stage we're currently in is what I would call transnationalization, and here the goals and purposes are somewhat different from those identified with internationalization. From a transnational perspective, the goal is to help our students get comfortable with other legal systems, norms, and cultures and to catch up legal education to legal practice. The idea here is to see the United States as one nation among many nations, to understand our system in comparison with other systems. When I use the term transnational law, I use it to mean more than international law. It includes comparative law (comparative constitutional law, comparative private law), conflicts of law, and courses such as international business transactions that involve matters that cross borders but may not invoke international legal norms as traditionally understood. Under the transnationalization phase, study-abroad programs may blossom--with students going to foreign law schools, not to overseas programs staffed by their faculty. There may be jointly-taught comparative courses at home. I understand that NYU has a robust program in which visiting foreign faculty teaching comparative courses with domestic faculty. Faculty exchanges and LL.M. programs, under this model, are used to build relationships.

At my school, we have adopted a number of programs that fit into the transnationalization category. Although we had traditionally been reluctant to allow our students to study abroad, Georgetown has now put in place arrangements with eight foreign universities to allow our students to spend a semester there (and receive Georgetown credit for their study). We've established a "double LL.M." program with Renmin University in Beijing under which Renmin students can earn an LL.M. from both institutions.

Most significant has been a change in our first year curriculum with the establishment of a program we call "Week One, Law in the Global Context." The program replaces classes in the first week of the second semester with a week-long problem on a transnational issue. So, for example, we have developed a problem involving a contract between a French and an American company for the construction of barges in China used to build a dam in Cambodia. The contract goes sour, and questions arise as to what law controls, the applicability of international arbitration procedures, and transnational lawyering. The purpose is not to fully teach contract law or the French civil code; rather, we see Week One as a way to get our students in their first year thinking about law in other legal cultures.

The third stage I'm calling globalization--a phase we may just be entering. Globalization is not legal education founded on the idea of the establishment of a world government or the application of international norms everywhere. It sees transnational institutions and practices as constructing a web-like set of connections with thick cross-border relationships, changing notions of sovereignty, and the theorizing of legal pluralism. Like transnationalism, globalization thinks in horizontal arrangements, but its defining features are both overlapping competencies and new competencies in areas where horizons merge. If exchanges are the hallmark of transnationalization--you put people in different places, learn about their cultures and legal systems--for globalization, the hallmark is collaboration. Globalization (as I am using the term) favors collaborative learning...

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