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Are lawyers prepared for globalization? Maybe not.

by on July 1, 2010

It seems that perhaps as many as 60% of recent law-school graduates feel that they are un-prepared for globalization thanks to their law school education.  This includes things such as an understanding of how international supply chains affect the practice of law in the U.S., as well as learning about the most cost-efficient yet fair in legal systems around the world.  The 60% estimate comes from a recent study by the IBM Institute for Business Values, which surveyed more than 3600 students in more than 40 countries.

Emmanuel Ogala reported in NEXT that the survey found that only 4 out of 10 students believed that their education had prepared them top deal with the realities of globalization.  Not great.

From the NEXT article:

‘Asked how well their education has prepared them in a number of areas connected with globalisation, only four out of 10 students believe their education has prepared them well to address these issues,’ Sean McLean, University Relations Manager, IBM Sub Saharan Africa said.

‘Despite the challenges and threats of globalisation, students today tend to view it as an opportunity and have a global view of shared responsibility for both environmental issues and societal prosperity.’

According to the IBM report, more needs to be done to help prepare students for an increasingly global world where issues around sustainability are key factors.”

The findings of the survey echo much of what was published in a paper from the Georgetown Law Center:

“The job of how best to educate law students for work in a global economy presents a complicated question for several reasons. First, the nature of law itself challenges the notion of educating lawyers to work in a global context. Generally, we think of globalization as exerting pressure towards convergence around a uniform standard. For example, accounting has undergone a reorientation with the emergence of global accounting standards and standard setters.1 Law, in large part, has resisted this trend. It remains essentially national, emanating from sovereign rulemaking structures. Of course, this does not deny that globalization’s influence is felt in certain substantive areas and on particular rule-makers. Nevertheless, the force of globalization with regard to law typically must meet the power of national sources to which law is firmly tied.  As one senior lawyer working in Paris for an American law firm putit, “Law really is pretty local, unlike accounting and banking – law, private practice, is much more local.”This local nature of law, then, means that we cannot resolve the challenge of educating lawyers to work in a global economy simply by teaching global law. And we surely cannot teach the law of each nation; there are too many and too many differences among them. We probably cannot even accurately anticipate which national legal regimes will assume importance in the career of any particular student.”

You can read the full paper HERE

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