Professor Bond University
The globalising of our justice norms is steadily improving the quality of justice across the globe. We are coming to acknowledge there are universal qualities to the notion of the rule of law.
For the enhancement of the quality of justice and for legal commercial reasons, there is a need to provide lawyers with global legal knowledge and with the right to practise law seamlessly in many jurisdictions and between jurisdictions.
We should encourage the teaching and acceptance into transnational legal practice of a JD (Global) for a similar qualification – a baccalaureate in law.
This is a vision for a 'global' legal education – multi-jurisdictional legal education. The graduates with this ‘super’ qualification would be fit for admission to most jurisdictions in the world – fit for global lawyering. A lesser goal is to alter and enlarge existing law syllabuses, to make the degree tailored still for one ‘local’ jurisdiction, but also fit for global legal practice.
Universities with transnational student bodies have been moving steadily in this direction, adding international and comparative perspectives to their law courses. This is encouraged by the demands of practice in the multinational law firms, which recognise skill in solving international legal issues and are more inclined to hire graduates who have studied or worked abroad. They seek out graduates with transnational experience and education - for law, especially corporate and commercial law, has ‘globalised’. Barriers between common law and civil law jurisdictions are sharply reducing. Islamic lawyers also are seeking global solutions, promoting tolerance and are keen to take their place in international courts and dispute resolution centres.
Commercial imperatives encourage the globallising of the legal profession. The enhancement of justice will be the more noble goal, achieved obliquely.
1. Can you briefly describe the innovative idea, in terms of the problem(s) it tries to solve and why is it necessary?
The development of a ‘global’ legal system where the norms of law are broadly agreed and the rules governing trade, commerce, contracts, constitutions, wrongs, recreation, taxation, dispute resolution and even human rights are relatively settled, is a subliminal goal of the international commercial community. It is also a goal of those who seek and foresee solutions to injustice, inequality and oppression through a general acceptance of wise and well-crafted legal system. This goes for ‘consumers’ in common law systems, civil law systems, and Islamic law systems of justice. They all admire ‘best practice’ solutions.
The successful legal practitioners in our ever more globalised commercial system have so far been gifted practitioners from individual jurisdictions who have set about personally to fill the gaps in their legal education. To devise a legal qualification or baccalaureate, with the goal of fitting its graduates for transnational legal practice, is a challenging and exciting proposal for the legal academy and for far-sighted legal practitioners and jurists. The devising and teaching of such programmes would stimulate legal reform and obliquely achieve a systematic scholarly search for the best legal solutions to global legal problems, and an improvement in the quality of justice.
2. What makes your innovative idea unique?
The goals of lawyers in individual systems can differ from the justice needs of society - society is anxious to achieve a just, fair and affordable legal system. A qualification fitted for global application would transcend local needs and aspirations – and should lead to improvements in the quality of justice in the global commercial and ‘justice’ environments.
3. What triggered the innovative idea?
I observed the improvements in the quality of fairness and adjudication in the worldwide administration of sports, in the last 20 years. The Court of Arbitration for Sport is a surprisingly successful international adjudication body, where the litigants, representatives and the judges can come with widely varying backgrounds from any country, and where the rulings are widely respected and observed. If it can happen for sport, one asks, why can it not happen for the commercial and the broader ‘justice’ communities?
4. Which persons and organisations came up with the innovative idea and what role do they play?
This idea arose from my teaching and writing in the area of Sports Law – a vibrant area of global scholarship. I have also had enthusiastic discussions with colleagues, for example, with leading international practitioners and with academic futurists, eg, in NYC with Professor Luca Melchionna, who strongly supports the idea of a global qualification.
5. What kind of resistance do you expect to encounter and how do you plan to overcome it?
Generally, states or jurisdictions jealously guard the admission to practice law in their respective jurisdictions. The respective law societies are their own gatekeepers. Their ‘commercial’ and employment goals can differ from the needs of society, which is anxious to achieve a just, fair, ‘universal’ and affordable legal system. A qualification fitted for global application would be devised, guided and taught by the academy and global bodies keen for improvements in the quality of justice and for a system of justice adaptable to the needs of a global commercial environment. Transnational and multinational legal firms would also support the qualification, depending on the quality of the curriculum and the instruction.
6. How do you make the goals of your innovative idea realistic and attainable, and when will quick wins be available?
Strasbourg would be a suitable 'home' for the teaching of such a global qualification; and the European Court of Human Rights and the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg suitable supporters of such an ambitious programme. As a pathway to legitimising the global qualification, graduates could be welcomed as practitioners before these and other international law forums.
Leading international legal firms would recognise the skills and usefulness of well-trained and ‘globally-educated’ law graduates.
7. Will the innovative idea affect other organisations in the chain and if that is the case, how will it affect them?
The global qualification will influence legal jurisdictions to be more tolerant of transnational practitioners and jurists – and laws. The search for international best practice in law would constantly be on the working agendas of the transnational practitioners and supporting jurists.
8. How will the development of the innovative idea be funded and what would be the reasons for the financing organisation?
Although supported and even initiated by an international body or organisation, or an NGO, such a law school could eventually be run as a private and independent institution, operating on students’ fees, as well as grants and donations, in the manner of Harvard, Duke and Bond Universities.
9. Can you name 3 to 5 characteristics of the innovative idea that are most essential to make it work?
- A suitable ‘home’ building in a suitable location. This could be a remodeled building of distinction, but with superior technology and communication facilities. Components of the qualification would be taught remotely, but only with the best of technology and with close personal tuition (an attractive staff:student ratio, no higher than 1:12), which would be a hallmark of the programme.
- Top quality professors and staff capable of handling the intellectual demands of mastering and communicating the laws of many jurisdictions. The professorial staff would have to be carefully recruited to reflect the multicultural and intellectual demands of teaching the degree.
- Supported by high quality technology, with some of the tuition being by electronic methods.
- Strong encouragement and support from the international legal community and NGOs, leading to guarantees of employment opportunities for the graduates.
- The curriculum would be pivotal to the success of the qualification. At the technical level, a 'global' law school teaching the JD - JD(Global) - would add the transnational (international and comparative) component to all the ‘local’ core courses in the JD - contract, torts, criminal, banking, corporations, taxation, administrative law, legal skills. The practice at the University of Utrecht to teach contracts, torts, property and family law on a comparative (European) basis offers an example for this development. Optional courses at the end of the qualification could be from multiple jurisdictions, providing the courses were strong in their international and comparative law components. The degree would include legal skills practice and there would be integration of those skills into the degree –an internationalisation of legal skills education.
10. How do you measure whether the innovative idea has turned into a successful innovation?
‘Client satisfaction’ – the international market for legal advice - is crucial. The success of multi-cultural graduates conducting global legal activities would speak for itself, just as the graduates of any academic programme by their deeds speak of the success of their academic programmes.
The spin-off research and writing activities conducted by the institution would create or enhance its reputation.
11. How many people or organisations could potentially benefit your innovation now and in the future? Can or will the innovation be used internationally and how do you overcome cultural differences?
Much can be gained from studying the success of the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
If the global qualification became widely accepted, then the degree curriculum would be imitated and would become generally available. It would spread widely, and quite quickly. Developing nations, in particular, might see more speedy and sympathetic access to a working justice system and its practitioners.
12. Can you quantify the financial benefits?
Globalising the professional qualification - and making admission to practice more widely achievable - would increase competition and drive down the cost of legal services. Pro bono legal advice would become available to a more geographically diverse group of needy communities. Generally, a globalising profession would be more responsive to social, family and welfare needs across state boundaries. Access to justice can be seen - like access to medical care - as a primary service in society, and affordability is the key component in this.
13. Will the innovation be financially viable and sustainable and if yes, how?
If the capital works (or donated premises) were initiated by an international body or organisation or a suitable donor, such a law school could soon run as a financially-independent private institution. It would operate on students’ fees, as well as grants and donations. International bodies, including international law firms, might be willing to offer scholarship support, as well. Close links could be forged with major computing and communication corporates, to make best use of their technologies.
The degree programme would best run on a trimester pattern – three teaching semesters per year - allowing for efficient use of facilities and more rapid completion of the degrees. The trimester fee-taking model also is a strong financial model and would outperform the traditional semester (two-term) model.
14. Did you receive any recognition?
The Global JD model excites attention, and some skepticism. It is very attractive to students contemplating a career in the international sphere. Legal practitioners who work and employ others in a vigorous international practice agree that the qualification would have many advantages. The legal academic community is generally intrigued by the notion, although daunted by the scope of the tuition demands and expertise required to make such a program a success.
15. What lessons did you learn so far that could be useful to others?
There is a sense of inevitability about the globalising of education and services – especially legal services. It is not a matter of whether there will be such a qualification but when. It will be exciting and valuable to sculpt and shape the future of law.