September 01, 2013 International Law

Educating Transnational Lawyers

Catherine Donnelly

The aim of this article is to explore possible convergences and divergences in the education of transnational lawyers across jurisdictions. There appears to be increasing convergence in the manner in which lawyers are educated academically; however, there remain significant divergences in the manner in which lawyers are educated professionally. The analysis focuses on a consideration of the education of lawyers in the United States, on the one hand, and in England, Wales, and Ireland, on the other.

Convergences in academic legal education. Before identifying possible convergences in academic legal education, it is important to note one major distinction: Legal education is delivered at the undergraduate level in Anglo-Irish universities but not until the graduate level at North American universities. There is much to be said about the advantages and disadvantages of each method. Certainly, one downside of delivering legal education at the undergraduate level is that very young freshmen commonly find themselves distressed by what they regard as the tedious detail of law. The choice to deliver legal education at the postgraduate level also could be argued to result in a more interdisciplinary practice of law. Judges educated at the postgraduate level would be better equipped to deal with the multifaceted problems they face. One obvious example might be a judge with an undergraduate degree in economics dealing with an antitrust case.

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