What Lies Before, Behind and Beneath a Case? Five Minutes on Transnational Lawyering and the Consequences for Legal Education
Shauna Van Praagh and Helge Dedek (eds.), Stateless Law: Evolving Boundaries of a Discipline (Ashgate, 2014), Forthcoming
22 Pages Posted: 22 Dec 2013 Last revised: 21 Oct 2014
Date Written: 2013
The following paper serves as the Epilogue to an edited volume that celebrates the first decade of McGill’s ambitious legal education reform in "Transsystemic Law". Placing this innovation in a larger context of curriculum reform, law school crisis – then and now -, it becomes apparent that McGill’s program can be seen as part of global changes in the way that law schools struggle with student expectations, market demands, and shifting frameworks of domestic and transnational lawyering. Karl Llewellyn’s observations "On What is Wrong With Legal Education" ring true still today, almost eighty years later. Still we seek ways to inspire law students to think critically and to develop a sense for their own moral compass, and still we find ourselves succumbing to the pressure to deliver, above all, "skills" and practical training. The here made contention is to introduce transnational case scenarios, constellations and case studies into the law school curriculum to illustrate the complexity of social and legal facts and the treacherousness of forgetting the former over an exclusive emphasis on the latter: using, for example, labor rights struggles as in the context of the Foxconn suicides or in the Bangladeshi ready-made-garment industry, we can introduce students to different layers of legal, political and social arguments in contexts where it is not enough to identify plaintiff and defendant. The "case" beneath that case is infinitely more complex and necessitates historical, political, economic, cultural understanding. Confronting students in first and upper year classes with such instances of ‘law in context‘, we might begin to complement our already ongoing efforts of making them sensitive to the ethical challenges of legal profession with accessible examples of transnational lawyering. Such illustrations bear crucial insights into the transnational complexities of rights advocacy, lawyering, access to justice and the legal process.
Keywords: legal education, law school crisis, transnational lawyering, ethical lawyering, access to justice, transnational advocacy networks, legal process, law in context, transnational law, legal pluralism
JEL Classification: K4, K40, K49
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation