Law expands overseas
Partnership with Tel Aviv University in public, international law
By Pat Vaughan Tremmel
Once again the School of Law is departing from business as usual in taking its faculty and LLM (master of laws) programs overseas, this time to Tel Aviv.
Northwestern has partnered with Tel Aviv University to award dual master of laws degrees in the fields of public and international law in its latest effort to provide a sound grounding in American law to lawyers and executives who otherwise might find it difficult to leave their jobs and countries.
In recent years record numbers of foreign lawyers and executives have come to the United States to enroll in one- and two-year LLM programs. Offered at law schools throughout the nation, the programs offer critical insights about Anglo American law and the U.S. legal system, which drives so much of world business.
The Tel Aviv program as well as the Seoul and Madrid programs offered by Northwestern are among the few American LLM programs offered overseas.
LLM candidates in the Tel Aviv program include government and private practice lawyers as well as judges who have interests that intersect with public law issues. The current class includes prosecutors, human rights activists, a journalist and lawyers specializing in such areas as employees’ rights and immigration. Leading scholars from Tel Aviv University and Northwestern School of Law provide sophisticated tools to deal with complicated issues of government administration and human rights.
“Israel faces issues comparable to the United States, because it is a country of immigrants and a multicultural society,” said Mayer Freed, professor of law and associate dean for academic affairs and curriculum at Northwestern. “And the United States provides a possible model for dealing with issues that confront democratic governments.”
Israel currently is struggling with the question of whether to create a bona fide constitution, and its Supreme Court routinely surveys high court opinions from other countries.
The LLM candidates will benefit from the insights of leading Northwestern scholars who will share perspectives on how constitutional courts function in different legal systems; on U.S. Supreme Court decisions and the writings of constitutional theorists; on the historical roots of criminal procedure and broader controversies in constitutional theory; on modern environmental problems and questions that arise from related legislation; and the law regulating employment discrimination in the US and its relevance to the Israeli experience.”
“Globalization has fueled dramatic changes in the international and political environment, and an emerging set of conventions that are loosely based on the Anglo-American common law structure is driving legal practice in the international sphere,” said David Van Zandt, dean of Northwestern University School of Law. “Our LLM programs are designed to prepare lawyers to respond to the increasing complexity, globalization and competitiveness of the profession.”
The Israel program differs from the two other overseas Northwestern LLM programs in Seoul and in Madrid. Unlike the Tel Aviv program, the programs in Korea and Spain play off of Northwestern’s leadership in integrating business and legal education. Cross-training students in business and law is a hallmark of a Northwestern University School of Law education.
The LLM programs in Korea and Spain give lawyers and executives an understanding of Anglo-American law in relationship to the radical changes that have taken place in the business world and legal services business over the last couple of decades. Whether a lawyer is working for a multinational client in Hong Kong, Frankfurt, London, Buenos Aires or New York, the set of legal practices is primarily based on Anglo-American law and largely the same.
Northwestern has joined with the Kaist Graduate School of Management, the leading business school in Seoul, in a program that grants graduates an LLM degree from Northwestern’s School of Law as well as a certificate of business from Kaist.
In Madrid, the School of Law offers an LLM degree program in partnership with the Instituto de Empresa, an independent postgraduate school, ranked by The Financial Times among the top five business schools in Europe.
With little disruption to their careers, students in the overseas programs learn how to participate more fully in the global economy, said James Speta, professor of law and director of the LLM Korea program.
“In order to take advantage of U.S. capital markets, you need a U.S. lawyer,” he said. “And the biggest financing transactions, the biggest merger transactions, the biggest bank transactions all are likely to have an international dimension of some sort, for which foreign governments and corporations hire U.S. lawyers all the time.”
American law schools are better positioned than any other institutions to prepare students, both domestic and foreign, to move seamlessly from domestic to international practice in today’s competitive global economy, said the law school’s Dean Van Zandt.
By taking its faculty on the road, Northwestern is allowing foreign lawyers and executives the advantages of staying in their home countries while gaining the competency, fluency and familiarity with American legal and business concepts that drive the world economy.