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Around the World in 80 Minutes? The Importance of Understanding Culture in Legal Practice & Legal Education

Around the World in 80 Minutes? The Importance of Understanding Culture in Legal Practice & Legal Education (Program)

Ray Campbell, Peking University School of Transnational Law (China); Jan L. Jacobowitz, University of Miami School of Law (US) (Moderator); Richard Zitrin, University of California, Hastings College of Law (US); and Carol Needham, Saint Louis University School of Law (US)


Around the World in 80 Minutes? The Importance of Understanding Culture in Legal Practice & Legal Education

As the world has become “smaller” through technological innovation and the explosion of social media, many more lawyers are interacting with people from dramatically different countries, societies, and cultures. Consequently, the need to enhance awareness and understanding of the impact of these differences, especially as it relates to the manner in which we communicate, has grown exponentially and become more acute. The significance of variables such as eye contact, body language, word choice, and communication method cannot be understated.   Because communication is no doubt a fundamental component of the effective, ethical practice of law, lawyers must embrace cultural insight as a necessary skill for the successful lawyer.  And legal educators should be exploring ways to incorporate the teaching of cultural insight and communication skills to their law students.

This panel of international lawyers will explore the impact of cultural differences on lawyering and legal education with the goal of both increasing awareness of the impact of culture on our everyday work lives, and providing tools for implementing cultural competence and communication in practice and as an educational tool.  The presentation will illustrate how understanding an individual’s cultural background improves empathic insight and assists in effective communication. A lawyer who has insight into the cultural aspects of the person being addressed – whether client, opposing counsel, colleague, or judge – is undoubtedly more effective. 

The panel will be an interactive presentation, sharing examples and exercises to engage the audience in an animated discussion of the value of educating law students and lawyers to achieve cultural competence.

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