In 2000, Georgetown inaugurated the Global Law Scholars (GLS) Program in response to the changing nature of legal practice and in recognition of the Law Center’s prominent positioning—both academic and geographic—in the field of International and Transnational law and practice.
There is no escaping the fact that U.S. lawyers, even if engaged in a seemingly local, U.S. practice, increasingly encounter problems that can only be solved by reference to more than one legal system. In some cases, this means understanding enough about a foreign client’s legal system to anticipate and respond to questions and problems that client may have in complying with U.S. law. In other cases, it means spotting potential foreign law problems in a transaction proposed by a U.S. client. Frequently it means participation in a multinational team of lawyers called upon to review a transaction with obvious connections to multiple legal systems.
Although much of international legal practice may involve corporate or transactional work, litigators, too, are finding that their practices are more and more “transnational” in the sense that their cases involve events and evidence from, or the law of, another country. Litigation is also increasingly “international” in that cases may be tried before international tribunals or panels of arbitrators or may be decided under international law. Those interested in working in the human rights field, as private, public, or NGO lawyers, must be conversant in international law. And an ever-increasing number of government lawyers must have knowledge of foreign and international law, whether their duties involve negotiating with foreign nations or nationals or resolving substantive and procedural conflicts with foreign legal systems in the course of making policy or designing effective enforcement strategies.
The Georgetown Law Center is uniquely placed to respond to this dynamic by capitalizing on its preeminent international faculty and programs. Former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, in her speech at the dedication of the Georgetown’s Hotung International Law Center in 2004, recognized that the “law school already has one of the world’s most comprehensive international and comparative law programs,” and that “Georgetown University Law Center is now situated to be the leading global law center in this country and perhaps the world.” Our Transnational Law Faculty claims world-renowned scholars, many of whom have also held positions of responsibility in the U.S. government, international organizations, and NGOs. Georgetown’s extensive curricular and programmatic offerings in its Transnational Programs are, as Justice O’Connor recognized, second to none.
Georgetown is also the foremost law school in one of the most “international” of cities: Washington, D.C. Many students come to us rightly believing that our location—a stone’s throw from many of the biggest players in international law and policy—will enhance their legal education. Through classes, internships, talks, conferences, and other opportunities, our students mine the many opportunities surrounding the Law Center. For example, students can easily walk from their classrooms to such institutions as the United States Congress, Supreme Court, and Departments of Justice and Commerce, as well as to NGOs such as Amnesty International. One need only have a metro pass to visit the White House, the Pentagon, the U.S. Departments of State and Treasury, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, embassies representing virtually the entire world, NGOs, think-tanks, innumerable law firms, and many other internationally-oriented companies and organizations.
All Georgetown students can, of course, take advantage of the excellence of our international faculty and programs as well as the opportunities our location affords. The GLS Program is designed to give a group of students who have a demonstrated commitment to the international sphere a particularly intensive and comprehensive preparation for the increasingly “global” nature of law practice, in the United States and abroad.