On Thursday, December 6, 2019, the Foreign, Comparative & International Law SIS and the Academic Law Libraries SIS jointly sponsored an online panel entitled, “Cross-Border Cultural Competency: Teaching Foreign Law Students and Training International Lawyers.” The moderator, Jessica Pierucci, Research Law Librarian for Foreign, Comparative, and International Law at UC Irvine School of Law, guided a discussion with four knowledgeable and experienced speakers:
· Jodi Collova, Director of LL.M. Legal Research and Writing at Berkeley Law,
· Karina Condra, Foreign, Comparative & International Law Librarian at University of Denver Sturm College of Law,
· Heidi Frostestad Kuehl, Director of the Law Library at Northern Illinois University College of Law, and
· Mike McArthur, Head, Foreign Comparative & International Law and Collection Development at Duke Law.
A variety of insightful suggestions were provided by each of the speakers. Regarding the challenge of helping foreign-trained lawyers understand the U.S. legal system and practice, Collova explained that foreign students, whose experience often lies within the civil law system, tend to struggle with both analogical reasoning and the plain English writing style required by the U.S. system. Each of the speakers emphasized the usefulness of having foreign students work in small groups and Condra, in particular, stressed the effectiveness of this approach when teaching classes comprised of a mixture of foreign L.L.M. students and domestic J.D. students. In this mixed-group setting, Kuehl relayed that she incorporates a series of short assignments throughout the semester, as opposed to a single, large final assignment.
A recurring theme throughout the discussion was the importance of openness and friendliness toward foreign students. At Duke, McArthur organizes and participates in extracurricular, small-group discussions with foreign L.L.M. students, before which he circulates short, topical articles for discussion. He also mentioned that it’s important to remind foreign students that, unlike that which may be the case in their home countries, they are indeed welcome and encouraged to visit with their professors outside of class.
This webinar featured an array of helpful suggestions and we encourage anyone who is interested in this topic to view the recording and materials, available at https://www.aallnet.org/recording/teachingforeignlawstudents/