Wednesday, February 2, 2022

Reflections So Far on Global Programs at Pepperdine Caruso School of Law

Three years ago, my role at Pepperdine Caruso School of Law expanded to include administrative leadership for our Global Programs, including the London Program, Washington DC Externship Semester, and summer exchange program in Augsburg. It’s required a heavy learning curve, especially with pandemic complications. These are all well established programs with talented directors, and I am the next steward in a long line of professors who have developed and led these programs. For much of its history, the School of Law has developed and encouraged studying and working abroad through these Global Programs, externships, and the Sudreau Global Justice Institute. International study and engagement is deep in Pepperdine’s DNA.

This is exciting to me, because I did not study abroad in college or law school and always regretted it. I have traveled and worked abroad much since then, including teaching engagements in India, Brazil, England, and the Philippines, and an active international practice in the Community Justice Clinic. It’s cliché to say that foreign travel can change lives, but it’s true. As Mark Twain wrote in The Innocents Abroad, “Travel is fatal to prejudice,” and we need it. But this role is new territory for me outside of dedicated clinical education, and I have tried to bring the virtues and values of clinical education, professional formation, access to justice, cultural competence, and readiness for practice into these initiatives.

Prof. Nancy Hunt leads the Washington DC Externship Semester and literally wrote the book on Lawyering in the Nation’s Capital. It’s an expanded, sophisticated externship program that gives our West Coast students serious, full-time experience and relationships in DC where many stay for their careers.

Prof. Peter Wendel directs the Augsburg Exchange Program each summer with the University of Augsburg and its Summer Program on European and International Economic Law. Each summer our students study in Germany, and each fall we welcome German students to Malibu. They contribute much to our community, and our students develop expertise and cross-cultural compassion and sophistication.

The London Program is our oldest study-abroad program, beloved of alumni, and it has passed through several iterations. In this age of exploding (or exploded) student debt, less predictable and shifting JD job markets, and complex, competitive global markets, we’ve been thinking a lot about the purpose of the London Program and its return on investment for students who take a semester abroad. For law students, studying abroad is too expensive to be merely a cool diversion or change of venue; it should tangibly advance their work, vocation, and careers.  

With my colleagues who have served as Faculty Directors, including Prof. Rob Anderson in 2021 and Prof. Naomi Goodno this year (and Prof. David Han in 2020 had not the pandemic interrupted everything), and our heroic Associate Director Karen Haygreen, we have redoubled our efforts on developing curricula and experiences that are useful and particularly valuable to students with global practice in mind. We focus the curriculum on international and comparative law, international human rights, transnational conflict resolution, arbitration, entertainment, and business. Collaborative experience in practice is essential to professional formation and learning, for us and our students, so the program offers extensive externship opportunities in London, study tours to international courts and institutions (pandemics permitting), and energetic moot court competitions with British law students and young lawyers. Our Faculty Director from Los Angeles teaches alongside brilliant British faculty and practitioners.

We welcome visiting students, too; they enrich our students, classes, and community in London.

True to clinic style, these new experiences have provided rich opportunity for my own fresh reflection in our Program of Clinical Education. The fundamental lessons transfer and continually inform each other: that lawyering is lawyering but context is everything, that the rule of law is essential to justice and access to justice is essential to the rule of law, and that an abiding commitment to the dignity of all human beings is critical for democracy – here and everywhere. We should manifest these commitments wherever we find ourselves and our work, locally or globally. Collaborating with lawyers and professors around the world makes me a better lawyer and teacher, and a focus on formative outcomes in one program makes us better in every other place. My great hope is that the law students in these programs glean as much from the lawyers, teachers, and students whom they meet out in the wide world, wherever they end up practicing.

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