Tuesday, March 26, 2013
A very informative and successful Eighth Annual Global Legal Skills conference was held in San Jose, Costa Rica earlier this month. Much of the credit must go to my co-blogger, Mark Wojcik, as the principal organizer (pictured here holding the flag of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights). Featuring two days of presentations by international law scholars and experts on teaching legal skills to students from all over the world, many great ideas were shared. Presentations included ideas for making legal field trips more effective, preparing foreign students for U.S. law schools, the use of elaborate simulations in international law, teaching international human rights online, the incorporation of diversity issues in the curriculum, methods for improving success rates in law school for indigenous students and many others.
The highlight of the conference for this author was the day of legal field trips to the Costa Rican Supreme Court (pictured on the left), the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (pictured on right below) and the US Embassy. At the Costa Rican Supreme Court, we learned about the incredible access individuals have to the Court if they believe their human rights were violated. We were told that individuals may file a petition (called recursos de amparo) with the Supreme Court as the court of first instance alleging a violation of constitutional or human rights 365 days a year. At the Inter-American Court, we were reminded of the Court's extraordinary powers to award a wide range of remedies to remediate a harm, including not only an award of monetary damages, but also orders to change domestic laws or constitutions, orders to train police, prosecutors and judges, and the award of various types of satisfaction, including public apologies, the construction of a monument, or establishment of a scholarship. Finally, at the U.S. Embassy, we learned of cooperative efforts between the United States and Costa Rica to combat problems such as human trafficking, gender-based violence and refugee issues.
Kudos to all who helped to make the conference a success. Mark your calendars for next year's Global Legal Skills Conference in Verona, Italy in May 2014.