Media credit: Elissa Detellis | Personal photographer
The course will explore how lawyers resolve disputes between different countries in a variety of contexts, such as bankruptcy and litigation in national courts.
A new GW Law course offered this spring will help students examine the increase in international business disputes caused by globalization.
Law school officials added the Global Economy and International Conflicts course this semester following recommendations from the school’s International and Comparative Law curriculum to satisfy requirements for the new JD and LLM concentrations. Kiran Gore, a law professor who teaches the new course, said global economic transactions have grown as the world becomes more connected, and his class will teach students how international economic disputes can be interpreted and resolved through law. .
“The opportunities to participate in academic commentary and debate is really unique to this class, because what we’re really trying to achieve in terms of a thesis for the class is to understand how things work out in practice, which is very different from what law school does, the courses typically cover, which is basic principles and ideas,” Gore said.
Gore said her class will explore how lawyers resolve disputes between different countries in a variety of settings such as bankruptcy and litigation in national courts. She said the spring class was originally at full capacity with 18 students, but expanded to include 20 students due to high demand.
She said students taking the course take similar advanced courses to deepen their understanding of international business transactions and have expressed interest in the field through previous internships and entry-level courses on dispute resolution. She said many of her students also completed all possible prerequisite courses for the class, exceeding the standard requirement.
“You can’t be a business lawyer or a commercial litigation attorney in Washington DC or a city like New York without having an international flavor in your practice,” Gore said. “So, in my view, there’s no such thing as a local lawyer anymore, and you have to be open to understanding how global commerce and global business transactions are done.”
She said modern legal and economic issues, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the blockage of the Suez Canal last year, have complicated global transactions and created a high demand for lawyers to resolve international disputes. .
Gore said the course is unique because students analyze secondary legal documents, such as blog posts and legal commentaries in legal journals, to supplement primary documents such as cases and lawsuits.
“The goal is really for students to learn things that are unique and different and not easily presented to them in the student setting and maybe things that they will experience in real life once they get out. and practice,” she said.
Experts in international business transactions and commercial arbitration have said that court cases involving disputes between different countries are inevitable and require lawyers skilled in international law. They said courses in international dispute resolution and arbitration are essential to practicing law after leaving law school because they train students to identify risks.
Ronald Brand, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh, said courses like global economics and international disputes will educate law students about different forms of dispute resolution, such as online dispute resolution. He said a global perspective on issues such as arbitration helps students better understand other legal topics, such as litigation.
“I constantly have people coming back and saying that what they covered in these types of courses is something they used,” Brand said.
Brand said law students need to be aware of the international perspectives of law to practice “effectively and ethically.” He said the settlement of international disputes was becoming an integral part of legal practice instead of a niche.
“In today’s world, you really can’t practice law without encountering issues that cross borders,” Brand said.
Cash Nickerson, a visiting professor of practice at Washington University at St. Louis Law School, said legal education should have an international focus because the United States has established “mediation systems to resolve business disputes that may not be as accessible in other countries. countries. He said teaching international law should teach students “soft negotiation skills,” such as strategy and communication and contrasts between cultures, to help resolve disputes between countries.
“Cross-cultural issues are paramount in terms of communicating with customers, counterparties and business partners,” Nickerson said.
Paul Klaas, a law professor at the University of Minnesota, said the course should teach U.S. law students the differences between U.S. law and international law and understand the country’s law to apply in each case. He said some U.S. legal practices, like using juries or exposing opposing party evidence, are rare in other countries.
“You might get an American law degree and not realize that some of the things you learn are quite unusual as far as the rest of the world goes,” Klaas said.