Beyond Borders in the Classroom – The Possibility of Transnational Legal Education

Beyond Borders in the Classroom – The Possibility of Transnational Legal Education

Ritsumeikan Law Review, Vol. 25, pp. 183-208, 2008
Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 08/63

LUKE R. NOTTAGE, University of Sydney – Faculty of Law, University of Sydney – Australian Network for Japanese Law
FRANK BENNETT, Nagoya University – School of Law
KITTISAK PROKATI, Thammasat University – Faculty of Law
KENT WILLIAM YAMANAKA ANDERSON, Australian National University – ANU College of Law
LEON T. WOLFF, University of New South Wales – Faculty of Law
MAKOTO IBUSUKI, Ritsumeikan University – College of Law

This is an edited transcript of a panel discussion, a popular format in Japanese law journals, from a conference held in Kyoto on transnational legal education. Two professors based in Japan join with three based in Australia, and one from Thailand, to compare and assess various experiments in recent years.

One model involves students physically crossing borders. Some take entire degrees abroad, as with the Masters programs at Nagoya and Kyushu Universities. Other students increasingly take some courses abroad. For instance, the “Canberra Seminar” in Australian law includes a week of “Legal English” before a week introducing key areas and principles of the common law most interesting for law students from Japan. A more ambitious example is the “Kyoto Seminar” in Japanese law, involving both Japanese and non-Japanese professors and students in teaching and learning. In another variant, students sometimes get partial credit for activities abroad, like some students from Australia who have participated very successfully in the Intercollegiate Negotiation and Arbitration Competition in Tokyo. Difficulties include the costs involved for students (and their home institutions). This has led to some law schools instead developing more courses taught in English, involving permanent or visiting professors abroad, as in Thailand.

Another more recent approach uses Information Technology to run courses in parallel in different jurisdictions. Students remain in their home institutions, but are linked up (through e-mail and/or internet video-conferencing) to hone their skills in cross-border legal communication. Examples include a contract negotiation and renegotiation simulation involving students in Canberra and Tokyo. The main challenge is logistics, including the extra time involved particularly for instructors.

Nonetheless, all six panelists agree that transnational legal education is no longer a possibility. It is already a reality, but one requiring further experiments and efforts to train the new generation of globally aware law graduates demanded by legal professions, the public and private sectors, and citizens world-wide.

 Source: LSN Public International Law Vol. 3 No. 55,  07/25/2008