Georgetown University Law School traveled across the pond this year to establish the Center for Transnational Legal Studies.

CTLS, which is the first institution of its kind focused on international and comparative law, opened its doors to students last month in London, England. According to the Web site, CTLC is located at the heart of London’s legal quarter on Chancery Lane.

The Center is a joint venture between Georgetown and nine other universities, including the University of Toronto, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and King’s College London.

“Legal practice is increasingly global, and today’s law school graduates need to understand other cultures and legal systems,” Law School Dean T. Alex Aleinikoff said. “We are delighted to partner with premier law schools from around the globe in taking the lead on transnational legal education.”

The Center will hold its inaugural celebration on Oct. 28 and feature keynote speaker Baroness Brenda Hale, the first woman to serve in the House of Lords as a Lord of Appeal in Ordinary, Britain’s highest court of appeal.

The program teaches international law and comparative law to students from all over the world, said Georgetown Law Professor and CTLS co-director Nina Pillard. According to the CTLS admissions Web site, preference in admissions is given to third- and fourth-year law students with definite intellectual objectives and a strong interest in transnational law. Currently the CTLS Web site states that the faculty and student body hail from 10 nations and five continents.

Each semester, Georgetown will send 15 to 20 students to the CTLS and each of the founding schools will send seven students per semester, according to the CTLS Web site.

Georgetown law professors David Cole and Nina Pillard are serving as the academic directors during the institution’s inaugural year. Together, the two coordinate with partner schools to determine what faculty they will send, decide which courses will be offered and manage the day-to-day aspects of the academic and social environment of the Center.

“It is really stimulating and enlightening to be in a classroom with students from around the globe,” Pillard said. “The CTLS has already, in just a few weeks, really broadened my own horizons, and I trust those of our students and other faculty as well.”

Pillard noted that there were several challenges to overcome in establishing the new program abroad.

“There have been many logistical challenges, ranging from meshing semester schedules of the 10 partner schools to the delayed renovation and opening of our Swan House headquarters,” she said.

“The central challenge, however, is also the principal reason why we are here: working together to make sense of an extremely diverse and complex legal scene,” Pillard added. “We are all used to working on more fully charted domestic legal terrain, and some of what we are studying here puts us outside our zones of comfort.”

According to the CTLS Web site, the coursework at the Center consists of readings focused on international issues such as United Nations conventions, NGO documents and complicated examples of foreign laws. The students take a core class on transnational legal theory and attend a weekly workshop featuring transnational law experts. This semester’s classes include The Law of Work in the Global Economy and International Investment Law. At the end of each semester, students at the Center will receive a Certificate of Completion of Academic Study.

Pillard credits the student body and the faculty for their determination as the Center works out these kinks.

“Sometimes it seems that every day poses some new, unexpected hurdle, however small, but the faculty and students have been flexible and adventuresome as we work to meet them,” she said.


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