WHAT THIS AREA IS ABOUT
. Today's lawyer, whether practicing in the public or private sector, faces a world in which national borders have become far less significant than in an earlier era and in which knowledge of U.S. law alone will not suffice. This field concerns the various legal systems and regimes that transcend the frontiers of a single country. To grasp this area, the lawyer must understand legal systems at the international level (international law), various systems at the national level (comparative law), and principles for choosing among these systems (conflicts of law). Together, these three areas form a body of law best described as transnational law — the law governing and affecting activities across national borders by states, international organizations, corporate entities, individuals, and the full range of actors in the international community.COURSE OFFERINGS
. The Law School offers three different types of courses in this area.
1. International Law. The introductory Public International Law course addresses basic questions such as the formation of law (treaties, customary international law, etc.); the relationship between international and domestic law; recognition and succession of states; jurisdiction; territorial acquisition and control; human rights; and the settlement of disputes through peaceful means and the use of force.
The Law School also offers a number of advanced courses in specialized areas of international law. Although Public International Law is not a prerequisite for most advanced international law courses, students who intend to take more than one international law course should consider taking this course first (or at least prior to their third year). Advanced courses can be categorized into three different groups:
A. General Courses on International Law and International Relations. Issues examined in the introductory public international law course are explored in greater detail in specialized courses such as Foreign Affairs and the Constitution (addressing the role of U.S. constitutional law and international law in the conduct of U.S. foreign policy); International Organizations (examining multilateral institutions for political and economic cooperation, especially the United Nations); International Dispute Resolution (focusing on the proliferating number of international tribunals established to resolve international disputes); and courses on the law of the European Union (examining the important new system of supranational law that has arisen in Europe). Students who plan to do research or write papers on international law may find it useful to take the Advanced Legal Research course on Foreign and International Law.
B. Regulation of Transnational Economic Transactions. International Trade Law focuses on the multilateral, regional, bilateral, and national regimes governing world trade. These include the GATT, free trade areas (such as NAFTA), and U.S. trade law. Issues relating to NAFTA are explored in greater detail in the NAFTA seminar. Other courses in this area include International Tax; International Petroleum Transactions; Corporate and International Finance; Regulation of Money; International Commercial Arbitration; Admiralty; Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights; Protection of International Cultural Property; International Investment; International and Comparative Art Law; and European Union law.
C. Human Rights and Other Non-Economic Interests. International law has become increasingly important for the protection of human rights and other non-economic interests, especially environmental law. Courses in this area include International Human Rights; International Labor Law; Immigration Law; Biodiversity; International Environmental Law; and International Criminal Law.
2. Comparative Law. As international borders become less and less important, more and more lawyers find it necessary to become familiar with legal systems other than the United States. Courses offered in this area include a survey course on Comparative Law, and courses on specific legal systems, such as the Emergence of Modern European Law. Several courses compare the approaches of different countries in specific areas of law, including Criminal Law in Comparative Perspective; Constitutional Change in Comparative Perspective; Biodiversity; Comparative Environmental Law; Comparative Constitutional Law; International Corporate Governance; International and Comparative Art Law; International Tort Law (comparing U.S., German, and English tort law); and Comparative Constitutional Law of NAFTA (comparing U.S., Mexican and Canadian constitutional law). Some courses, such as Admiralty and courses on the European Union, include both international and comparative law elements. There is also an Advanced Legal Research course on Foreign and International Law.
3. Conflict of Laws. A third critical area for the student interested in transnational issues is Conflict of Laws. The special problems of resolving disputes with connections to more than one country are addressed in courses and seminars on International Litigation, International Litigation and Arbitration, and International Commercial Arbitration. Conflict of Laws focuses primarily on conflicts questions involving different states of the United States, but also examines cases involving foreign countries. The amount of comparative treatment will vary depending on the instructor. Professional responsibility challenges faced by lawyers with transnational practices are considered in Corporate, Securities, Commercial and International Transaction Law Practice: Responsibility and Liability (however, this seminar does not satisfy the Professional Responsibility requirement).CLINICS AND INTERNSHIPS
. Clinics and internships give students the opportunity to be directly involved in international and foreign law, as well as domestic laws that affect immigrants. Students in the Immigration Clinic represent low income immigrants before the immigration courts and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and students in the Transnational Worker Rights Clinic represent low-income immigrant workers in cases to recover unpaid wages for work performed, and engage in other advocacy projects asserting the rights of workers here and abroad. The International Internship/ Clerkship Program places students in a variety of settings, including the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, the Inter-American Court for Human Rights, and the European Court of Justice.STUDY ABROAD AND COURSES OUTSIDE THE LAW SCHOOL
. Students with a strong interest in International and Comparative Law may wish to consider taking advantage of one of the Law School's programs for study abroad, under which a student may spend a semester or a full year at a foreign law school and receive credit towards the J.D. degree. These programs are described elsewhere
, but students should keep that option in mind when they plan their course of study. Students may also take a limited number of credit hours from departments outside the law school
such as the Long Institute for Latin American Studies (LILAS).
None of the courses in this area has prerequisites other than the first-year curriculum. If a student is sure that he or she wants to take several courses, it would make sense to take International Law first; students contemplating the International Litigation course might find the Conflicts of Law course a useful preparation. The IBT survey class may be taken as a prelude to the other international economic law courses or on its own. Otherwise, the particular order in which a student takes these courses is not important.Special Note
: The material herein discusses only the courses taught at the Law School. Students with a strong interest in International and Comparative Law may wish to consider taking advantage of one of the Law School's programs for study abroad, under which a student may spend a semester or a full year at a foreign law school and receive credit towards the J.D. degree. These programs are described elsewhere, but students should keep that option in mind when they plan their course of study.