Intercultural Legal Sensibility as Transformation
63 Pages Posted: 26 Sep 2015 Last revised: 5 Jan 2017
Date Written: September 17, 2015
In recent years the transformation of legal practice through globalization and shifting demographics in the United States have made the inherent cross-cultural nature of lawyering more apparent. As a result, law schools are being more intentional about the teaching of intercultural legal sensibility as part of the law school curriculum. This increased interest by U.S. law schools to train lawyers in intercultural legal sensibility calls for careful engagement by legal educators to define what intercultural legal sensibility should mean, to develop methodologies in response to the desired outcomes, and to measure their effectiveness. This article offers a reflection on what it might mean to infuse the teaching of intercultural legal sensibility with the necessary lessons to avoid perpetuating cultural dominance and global power imbalances through law. This process necessarily requires transformation on the part of all who engage globally and cross-culturally. This article explains why there may be a need for transformation and defines the type of transformation that law schools might encourage in future lawyers as part of legal education. The article also provides lessons on the methodology this type of transformational learning requires. The focus is principally on summer abroad programs as well as service learning opportunities that include student immersion in rich cross-cultural exchanges. Finally the article identifies ways to measure the effectiveness of law school programs aiming to teach intercultural legal sensibility by drawing lessons from what other disciplines have done in similar programs for at least half a century.
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