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2010 Jotwell: J. Things We Like [1] (2010)

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Can Legal Education Be Globalized?
Harry W. Arthurs, Law and Learning in an Era of Globalization, 10 German Law Journal 629, available at


John Flood

Law  is parochial yet it plays a considerable role in globalization. With few exceptions legal education has
continued listing towards the local away from the global. Harry Arthurs, along with Carole Silver and Margaret
Thornton, is one of the few scholars to investigate globalization and legal education. Arthurs has spent many
years thinking about legal education as befits one who has been both Dean of Osgoode Hall Law School and
President of York University in Canada and written one of the major reports on legal education. (See Julian
Webb's  reflections on the 1983 Arthurs' Report.)

The starting point is that political economy has profound influences on the shaping of legal education via the
research agendas of legal academics, types of jobs available for graduates, regulatory structures created by
government, licensing of law schools, etc. As economies and legal markets adapt to globalization so does the
knowledge  it is perceived to need. Law schools like to promote themselves as global either in their names-
Jindal Global Law School-or  in their courses and faculty.

According to Arthurs there is a deeper level to this: globalization of the mind, which has become an ideology. It
infuses our thinking where the transnational trumps the national, markets trump politics and law's role is to
make  the world safe for markets. This is the new normal and it has consequences. The rule of law is seen to
protect economic interests from the state; states will be seen to be of less influence than transnational
institutions; local resentments consolidate in supranational bodies like the EU or devolution as in Spain or
Canada; and the law is decoupled from the state and the state is decentered. Arthurs foresees a new curriculum
which contains not judicial decisions but arbitration awards, not legislation but corporate codes of conduct.

Does legal education have to be this pessimistic? Not according to Arthurs. His example of a successful future
legal education is found at McGill Law School in Montreal. McGill has developed a polyjural or
transsystemic curriculum. The result is that

individual courses and the curriculum as a whole consciously integrate civil and common law perspectives,
domestic and international perspectives, the perspectives of state law and of non-state legal systems, and legal
perspectives with those of other disciplines (at 636).

A former McGill dean said McGill has always been habited by the conviction that a great deal can be
gained.. .from a sustained and humble dialogue with otherness. And Jukier, a McGill law professor, notes that
the idea of otherness is not to be the same but, through the freeing of law from jurisdiction or systemic
boundaries, perspectives multiply and understanding is increased. She contrasts this approach with Justice

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