Lawyers and Precedent

17 Pages Posted: 4 Apr 2014

See all articles by Harlan Grant Cohen

Harlan Grant Cohen

Fordham Law School; University of Georgia School of Law; University of Georgia - Dean Rusk International Law Center

Date Written: 2013


Despite common references to the “invisible college of international lawyers,” and the doctrinal role granted to “the most highly qualified publicists of the various nations,” the role of lawyers, as lawyers, in the creation, development, and maintenance of the international legal order remains oddly underexplored. This short essay, prepared as part of a symposium on “The Role of Non-State Actors in International Law,” explores the role of lawyers as independent actors within international law. It argues that focusing on lawyers can help provide insights into how international law develops — specifically here, how and why a practice of precedent seems emerge even when not doctrinally encouraged or required.

Keywords: international law, lawyers, nongovernmental organizations, precedent, interpretation

JEL Classification: K33

Suggested Citation

Cohen, Harlan Grant, Lawyers and Precedent (2013). Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law, Vol. 46, p. 1025, 2013, UGA Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2014-14, Available at SSRN:

Harlan Grant Cohen (Contact Author)

Fordham Law School ( email )

150 West 62 Street
New York, NY 10023
United States

University of Georgia School of Law ( email )

Hirsch Hall
Athens, GA 30602
United States
706-542-5166 (Phone)

University of Georgia - Dean Rusk International Law Center ( email )

100 Herty Drive
Athens, GA 30602-6018
United States

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