For a better experience, click the Compatibility Mode icon above to turn off Compatibility Mode, which is only for viewing older websites.

A Global Approach to Legal Writing and Legal Research: An Evolutionary Process


Thirty-some years ago, American law schools reserved the study of in-ternational law for upper-level students, keeping the first year of law school focused on the traditional doctrinal subjects of torts, contracts, property, civil procedure, criminal law, and, perhaps, criminal procedure and constitutional law. Similarly, legal writing and legal research, both fledgling fields, dealt primarily with instruction in customarily domestic strategies — American statutory and common law research, preparation of legal memoranda advising clients or senior attorneys about domestic law issues, and preparation of legal briefs set in real or fictional state and federal courts. A handful of law schools introduced international law concepts in legal research and legal writing courses, but generally, international law and related subjects were considered material for substantive, and not skills, courses.

Skip ahead to the present. Once following similar approaches to the first-year curriculum, law schools have begun to experiment — to offer electives to first-year students (often including international law courses), to add a greater variety of skills courses, and the like. The number of legal writing courses and legal research courses that offer assignments that deal with international law — either as applied by U.S. courts or courts abroad — has increased greatly. Moreover, legal writing and legal research professors have branched out internationally in many ways, including developing courses and programs for international students and guiding our colleagues abroad in developing their own legal research and writing programs.

This Article will focus on this evolution in legal skills teaching and its implications for the future, including the place of legal skills teaching in the broader area of globalizing legal education.