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Law Students and Law Faculty: Professional Challenges

Law Students and Law Faculty: Professional Challenges (Program)

Milan Markovic, Texas A&M University School of Law (US); Carole Silver, Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law; Amari Omaka Chukwu, Ebony State University (Nigeria); and Rita Shackel, Sydney Law School, The University of Sydney (Australia) (Moderator)

Law Students and Law Faculty: Professional Challenges


Milan Markovic and Ryan Scoville: How Cosmopolitan Are International Law Professors?

International law is formally universal. Yet American views of international law on issues ranging from the use of force to minimum labor standards are starkly different from those of many other countries.

We contend that this phenomenon can partly be traced to legal education. Conducting a novel study of the educational and professional backgrounds of nearly 150 legal academics, we reveal striking evidence that most professors of international law in the United States lack significant foreign legal experience, particularly outside of the West. Sociological research suggests that this tendency leads professors to teach international law from distinctly nationalistic and Western perspectives.

To bridge cross-national differences, we identify a number of potential options, including greater emphasis on cosmopolitanism in faculty hiring. Until conditions change, U.S. lawyers will internalize views about “international law” that are not international in any meaningful sense.

Carole Silver and Swethaa Ballakrishnen: "Getting to Know You"? International Students in U.S. Law Schools

International legal education used to be described in terms of the number of international law courses offered by a law school. Today, it is possible to consider international legal education from a different framework, emanating from the mobility of law students who, by their presence, offer the promise of bringing an international aspect to their law school.

While increasing numbers of international students enroll in U.S. law school JD and post-JD degree programs, little is known about their experiences or their contributions to their law school communities, much less about their interaction with the larger U.S. legal profession generally. Do international students experience law school similarly to their domestic classmates?  How do international students experience their interaction with domestic students and faculty?

What explains differences among international students in their law school experiences, and what strategies do they use to acclimate themselves? In this project, we take aim at these issues and provide a first analysis of the characteristics, motivations and experiences of a set of approximately 50 international law students enrolled in US law schools, based on interviews conducted in 2015-2016.

Rita Shackel, Nerissa Soh, Fiona Burns and Garry Walter: Career Ambivalence as a Potential Correlate of Law Student Mental Distress

There is a large body of international research that has revealed that law students experience a high level of mental distress, consistent with the high levels of mental distress observed within the legal profession itself. Evidence suggests that law students in Australia and North America are increasingly feeling anxious about their chosen career and future employment opportunities given the continuingly increasing number of law graduates and resulting increased competition for law student internships, clerkships and graduate entry positions. Anecdotally at least law students are seemingly altering their patterns of study whilst at law school to accommodate more work experience and greater employment in order to become more competitive in the employment marketplace on graduating from law school. However, there is little research that has examined the link between law student distress and work commitments during law school, and anxiety about career choice or career prospects, and professional identity. This paper discusses the findings of research conducted at Sydney Law School with a view to exploring possible associations between law student distress and dissatisfaction with their chosen course of study and career choice. We draw on quantitative and qualitative data from a survey of law students conducted in 2013 (N=610).

Amari Omaka Chukwu: Empirical Perspectives on the Legal Profession and Legal Ethics

Among the basic exercises required of students both at undergraduate and postgraduate level are the writing of long essays and thesis in fulfillment of degrees at the higher institutions of learning. Similarly law lecturers are engage continuous research studies for academic excellence and promotion exercises at regular intervals. However, classroom experiences and some documented scholarly writings and other legal publications had shown remarkable defects in observance of ethical rules in research. The poor observance of ethical rules, the total absence of the uniform formats/non utilization of empirical/scientific approach to the teaching of legal research methodology, show grave negative effects in the qualities of graduate essays. Some are characterized by ‘cut and paste’ syndrome. These issues have negative implications for the legal education in the affected countries. It is in this light that the adoption of empirical research methodology in legal writings by National Association of Law Teachers (NALT) became a welcome development, with its attendant ripples among traditional law teachers. This was via a committee set up by NALT in 2014 to address challenges of legal research in Nigeria when I was the president NALT. We are going to examine the ethical gains inherent in adopting empirical approach to legal research, tailored towards elimination of plagiarism in legal scholarly writings. While so much has been done in Nigeria, in Nepal this trend is developing. We are therefore taking a holistic view on the reduction of ethical challenges in modern day research in Nigeria and Nepal through the adoption of best practices.

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