The first year of law school generally introduces students to basic principles of U.S. law, including state and federal law. But in today's world, most lawyers practice law in multiple legal orders, including (in addition to domestic law) foreign law, regional law, and international law of multiple sources. In addition, comparative law is a powerful lens through which to appreciate and evaluate domestic law. This course thus has both distinct objectives and a distinctive methodology.
The course's fundamental objective is to better prepare students for contemporary legal practice by introducing them to the basic issues and principles of international law (both public and private) and by equipping them with a keen comparative law perspective. In so doing, the course will explore both the special promise and the special challenges that these fields of law present.
The course is also distinct in methodology. It takes as its springboard a series of cases that have rich international or comparative law dimensions, but are also consciously modeled on concrete cases that students either encountered during the first semester (in Contracts, Torts, Civil Procedure, and Legal Methods), or are encountering concurrently in other second semester courses (in Criminal Law, Property, and Constitutional Law), or are likely to encounter later in certain upperclass courses (such as regulatory law and criminal procedure).
The course will explore how these "internationalized" or "comparatavized" cases would be approached, not only in the U.S. and/or under U.S. law, but also in other jurisdictions around the world and/or under other bodies of law. We will endeavor to arrive at possible explanations for the differences observed, explanations that may lie in legal rules, the operation of judicial and other institutions, or the political economy of other countries. Included will be cases that arguably fall within the domain of, and thus interface with, regional (e.g., NAFTA) or international (e.g., WTO) legal regimes.
In short, the course aims to complement the basic domestic law orientation of the first-year curriculum with distinctly international and comparative law knowledge and perspectives.