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

A Flat Earth for Lawyers Without Borders? Rethinking Current Approaches to the Globalization of Legal Education


A powerful assemblage of forces seems to be ensuring that the transnational colonizes the hearts and ambitions of emerging cadres of law graduates. Over the last twenty-five years, the legal academy has been shifting alongside, and in reaction to, the movement of people, capital, and goods across borders and the legal regimes that enable and regulate such movement. Thus, the structure and curricula of law schools are being revised in navigating a dizzyingly polycentric world. Yet the current trajectory seems fraught with tensions. On the one hand, the accent is on diversity; on the other, the cumulative effect seems to engender convergence and empower standardization. On the one hand, the reforms have been aimed at revitalizing legal education; on the other, educational goals seem to be downsized to the needs of legal practice. On the one hand, the focus is on responding to social needs; on the other, there seems to be a heightened disconnect from the need of marginalized populations. This Article maps the current debate on globalizing legal education, highlights its stakes, and explores how we may change the terms of the debate. It urges that a core challenge and promise of globalized legal education is to foster critical experimentation and intellectual heterodoxy so that we are better able to problematize received professional conceits and productively disorient our conceptual frontiers. To address this challenge and realize this promise, we will be aided by further research on the relationship between the current trajectory of the globalization of legal education and the structures of global governance — research that studies the political economy of current trends and maps the legal consciousness that accompanies it in order to better understand the complex and multi-directional processes through which legal knowledge gets disseminated, translated, and transformed. If we take legal education as an already-globalized terrain, then the debate is not about whether to globalize but about the direction of globalization, i.e., the multiple contested visions of global legal architecture that are at stake. Thus, globalization should not be measured by the number of transnational law school partnerships or study-away sites, but by whether the globalization of legal education has better equipped us to productively unsettle received ideas while boldly imagining alternative institutional arrangements in shaping the zeitgeist in which we teach, research, and study.