15 August 2012

NOTICE: American Society of Comparative Law Panels on You Tube

I came across the following series of recent panels on comparative law, part of the 2011 Annual Meeting of the American Society of Comparative Law, on Youtube:
logoThis session addressed the objectives and contents of the basic course in comparative law. Doing so forces one to confront the fundamental questions of why students should study comparative law and whether there is an essential core to the field of which any serious student should be aware. Is the goal of comparative law to examine differences and similarities in discrete subjects of private and/or public law from which students might better understand the competing policies and rule choices in specific fields? Or, is the goal to understand competing legal systems and underlying modes of thought (e.g., common law, civil law, and non-Western traditions, such as Islamic law) from which might flow discussions of the underlying nature of law and legal order? Or, is the essential core to understand the methods by which scholars in different legal systems can compare one with another (as well as the inherent limitations on such comparisons)? How should the objectives of the course change in the future, and how should basic courses in comparative law change in to meet these goals?
The session addressed the proliferation of comparative subject-specific courses (such as comparative constitutional law), as well as the proliferation of foreign law courses (e.g., China law), which are not strictly comparative, but which may achieve some of the objectives of a comparative law course. In many schools, these courses form the bulk, or even the entire, comparative law curriculum. What are the promises and perils of this expansion and fragmentation of the comparative law curriculum? Can subject and nation-specific courses effectively expose students to foundational concepts in comparative law so as to serve as a substitute for a core course? If an important utility of comparative law is to better understand specific areas of law, should comparative law become a pervasive feature of the law school curriculum by introducing comparative law materials into traditional courses (such as constitutional, criminal and corporate law), rather than as separate comparative law electives. This session moved beyond the study of comparative laws and legal systems as such and asked whether students can truly understand comparative laws and legal systems without immersion into the broader cultural framework within which laws and legal systems operate, and, if not, to consider the curricular implications. For example, can comparative law be fully understood without reading materials in the language of other nations, and if not, should part of the comparative law curriculum include instruction in languages other than English? More broadly, what is the place of historical and sociological background in comparative law courses? How important is it for students to understand the role of law in a particular culture and attitudes towards law within that culture? How do the cultural differences with regard to law affect negotiations or transactions? Does introducing foreign languages and cultural frameworks move beyond the competence of a law school, or might there be significant advantage found in using a broadly conceived comparative law curriculum as a wedge to develop intercultural competence for attorneys expected to practice in an era of increasing globalization?

Let me know if there's more out there.

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