Beyond curricular design: why internationalisation matters in legal education

A few years ago, a New York Times editorial declared: “American legal education is in crisis”! It sounds dramatic and exceptional, but actually quite often, and almost everywhere, there is a feeling that legal education is not going well. When I was a law student at the University of São Paulo, in the early 1990s, legal education reform was on the agenda; as a law professor at the same university, almost 25 years later, I keep hearing similar anxieties about this issue.

In this context, the document delivered by the German Council of Science and Humanities (hereafter, “the Council” or “German Council”) provides a comprehensive analysis of German legal scholarship and education, and recommends several changes. The analysis is very well grounded and the recommendations seem to be realistic and feasible, which is not always the case regarding this topic.

Many of the issues discussed in this document are the same as those we have been discussing at the University of São Paulo. And the recommendations are also similar sometimes. To name a few: adopting course formats more prone to foster critical thought (e.g., seminars); strengthening the foundational subjects in the curriculum; reducing compulsory courses and the amount of required doctrinal material; strengthening interdisciplinary studies.

But the Council’s document goes beyond and makes recommendations concerning other issues like the process of recruiting professors, publication practices and the internationalisation of German legal scholarship.

Although I would like to weigh in on most of these recommendations, I can only discuss a couple of issues. In these times of so-called “global” disciplines (e.g. global constitutional law), I decided to focus on the internationalisation process of legal scholarship ...

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