Parallel Tracks? Internationalizing the American Law School Curriculum in Light of the Principles in the Carnegie Foundation's 'Educating Lawyers'

Comparative Perspectives on Law and Justice, Vol. 3

70 Pages Posted: 9 Mar 2008

See all articles by Larry Catá Backer

Larry Catá Backer

Pennsylvania State University, Penn State Law


The Carnegie Foundation's Report, Educating Lawyers: Preparation for the Profession of Law reminds us that the challenge for legal education requires a linking of the interests of legal educators with the needs of legal practitioners and with the public the profession is pledged to serve - in other words, fostering what can be called civic professionalism. Educating Lawyers would reverse the drift of American legal education towards a purely academic orientation, recasting legal education as fundamentally professional rather than academic, outward and not inward looking. Educating Lawyers' focus is almost completely devoted to domestic law. Yet, civic professionalism does not end at the borders of the United States, and American lawyers long ago stopped thinking of national borders as the borders of their professional lives. The law schools have been responding. Many law schools are now wrestling with issues relating to the incorporation of a transnational legal component - including elements of international, comparative, foreign and transnational law - within their teaching and scholarship missions. These changes mirror discussions within the legal academy over a move from a national law practice to a multi-jurisdictional practice model of legal education. Yet these two great reform efforts have developed along parallel tracks. This paper looks at the development of these parallel discussions of reform of legal education. The framework is described in Part I. The paper then turns to a critical review of Educating Lawyers, focusing on its basic assumptions that serve as the foundation for the suggestions for the changes proposed. Part III examines the parallel development of the several strands of proposals for the incorporation of non-domestic legal education in American law schools, suggesting first an analytical framework for evaluating these proposals and then evaluating the several forms of incorporation that dominate incorporation of the transborder element in law school curricular, research and service activities. These are divided into five categories¿three are elaborations of traditional models and two others, an immersion model and separation model, represent emerging framework structures. Part IV considers these models of integration in light of the foundational model of apprenticeship proposed in Educating Lawyers. It suggests that transborder legal education can be integrated in legal education within the framework of Educating Lawyers but that not all emerging models of such integration are compatible with that framework.

Keywords: legal education, Carnegie Foundation, Educating lawyers, international law, curriculum

JEL Classification: K10, K40

Suggested Citation

Backer, Larry Catá, Parallel Tracks? Internationalizing the American Law School Curriculum in Light of the Principles in the Carnegie Foundation's 'Educating Lawyers'. Comparative Perspectives on Law and Justice, Vol. 3. Available at SSRN:

Larry Catá Backer (Contact Author)

Pennsylvania State University, Penn State Law ( email )

Lewis Katz Building
University Park, PA 16802
United States

Register to save articles to
your library


Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics