International Legal Education: The Future Is Now

Vol. 43 No. 2

By

Gabrielle M. Buckley, chair of the Section of International Law, is a shareholder in the Chicago office of Vedder Price, P.C. She heads the firm’s Business Immigration practice.

It is often argued that the practice of law and the teaching of law are growing distant from each other, as legal education seeks academic respectability in theory and the practicing bar looks for graduates with a full complement of professional skills. In the Section of International Law, we find that we are, instead, thriving on the interplay between the academic and practicing branches of our profession, and this issue of International Law News, which addresses the theme of “International Legal Education,” reflects that productive relationship.

Our first article ties the theme of legal education and legal practice together beautifully. Dean Nora Demleitner, professor of law at Washington and Lee University School of Law, addresses important structural changes in U.S. legal education, aspects of the recently released report of the ABA Task Force on Legal Education, and the importance of international and cross-cultural legal studies.

ABA President James R. Silkenat honored our Section by contributing an essay to this issue. He explained that the Task Force findings identified the need for innovations in (1) pricing and funding of legal education; (2) law school accreditation; (3) approaches to the structure of legal education, generally; (4) the teaching of practical legal skills and competencies; and (5) delivery of legal services to underserved populations. He also exhorted international law practitioners to support efforts to enhance legal education so that it serves lawyers of the future—and their clients—on the requisite global scale.

Howard N. Fenton adroitly discusses the value proposition of the increasingly numerous and popular LLM programs designed to introduce foreign lawyers to the U.S. legal system and to prepare them to take a U.S. state bar exam. His conclusion may surprise you.

Ming-Yu Bob Kao, a visiting professor on the law faculty of Henan University in the People’s Republic of China, discusses the importance of, and challenges associated with, teaching Anglo-American law in English outside China’s major cities. Professor Katia Fach Gómez of Spain’s University of Zaragoza discusses how introducing Spanish law students to “legal English” is challenging with respect to both the level of English generally attained by students and the university structures within which they study. Villanova law professor Diane Edelman discusses the why, how, and benefits of having international practitioners participate in law-school-based skills training courses. Next, Ronald Criscuolo, a joint JD/MBA Villanova law student studying abroad in Cambridge, England, reports on the SIL’s own Legal Education Summit program, at which educators and practitioners from around the world met in London after the 2013 Fall Meeting to find ways to bridge the perceived gap between them.

Nelson Tucker, CEO of Process Service Network, LLC, vividly illustrates the need to bring law school courses in line with the realities of practice in a globalized era and explains how effective international service of process has become indispensable. Offering a quick glance at one means of addressing this need, Professor Mark Wojcik from John Marshall Law School in Chicago, the Section’s long-time general editor of Year-in-Review and former publications officer, tells us about a co-sponsored conference in Italy this May on “Global Legal Skills” training.

These articles are wonderful examples of the cross-jurisdictional, cross-cultural nature of the Section’s membership and interests. A belief in the importance of international and cross-cultural connections, both within law schools and as a part of the practice of law, is central to this Section’s mission. It is a pleasure to present you with this highly-informative issue of ILN, which so clearly embodies that belief.

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