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The Importance of Comparative Law in Legal Education: United States Goals and Methods of Legal Comparisons

11 Pages Posted: 29 Jul 2005  

Hugh J. Ault

Boston College Law School

Mary Ann Glendon

affiliation not provided to SSRN


This Essay discusses the gradual changes occurring within legal education, which are finding wide acceptance in law schools throughout the United States. These changes include greater attention to other disciplines, primarily economics and behavioral sciences, and the contributions they make to a fuller understanding of the legal system. In addition, law schools are increasingly exploring the ways in which the law in textbooks may differ from the law in action. Nearly every law school, therefore, is investigating the social and economic consequences of legal rules through clinical legal education, which attempts to provide a real or simulated laboratory experience for law students.

The most pervasive change, however, may be the breaking down of traditional artificial and arbitrary classifications of subject matter, which attempt to provide the advanced student a tentative method for organizing his or her knowledge about the legal system. Therefore, comparative law courses in the law school curriculum have surfaced in an attempt to inspire students to think creatively about legal problems by providing new insights into the legal system. To illustrate their support of this approach, the authors discuss their experience with creating and teaching a comparative law course at Boston College Law School. The Essay provides support for existing literature surrounding comparative law in legal education while illustrating its importance to law school curriculums throughout the United States.

Keywords: legal education curriculum, clinical legal education, legal subject classification, comparative law, Boston College Law School, law in textbooks, law in action, legal instruction, legal field work, legal history, legal philosophy, legal process, legal perspectives

Suggested Citation

Ault, Hugh J. and Glendon, Mary Ann, The Importance of Comparative Law in Legal Education: United States Goals and Methods of Legal Comparisons. Journal of Legal Education, Vol. 27, pp. 599-608, 1975; Boston College Law School Research Paper No. 1975-01. Available at SSRN:

Hugh J. Ault (Contact Author)

Boston College Law School ( email )

885 Centre Street
Newton, MA 02459-1163
United States

Mary Ann Glendon

affiliation not provided to SSRN

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