Changing world inspires law school program

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

The recently announced dual degree J.D./LL.B. program by the Indiana University Maurer School of Law and Jindal Global Law School in India is still in the planning stages, but to many legal professors and professionals, the program promises to be a boon for students interested in practicing international law. Although several programs exist where students can study abroad for a finite period while pursuing their Juris Doctor, the Maurer-Jindal program will be the first of its kind in India.

The impetus for the program was globalization, as more and more U.S. companies establish global outposts and more and more foreign companies open offices in the U.S. Dr. C. Raj Kumar, vice chancellor of Jindal, explained the reasoning behind going beyond the study abroad programs offered by many law schools.

“U.S. corporations are having a huge presence in India and other countries, so training and establishing an understanding of a single jurisdiction alone may not be sufficient for equipping the future generation of lawyers,” he said. “Obviously, it’s not possible to have the same level of training in every jurisdiction, but a certain degree of knowledge and perspectives is essential, and that’s precisely what this does.”

Legal frontier

Lawyers practicing international law face challenges as varied as the legal systems found across the globe. One of the biggest challenges is the speed with which international law has become so integral to businesses and the people affiliated with them. In the past 30 years, international law has morphed into an entity that encompasses more than just mergers and acquisitions.

silver-carole-mug.jpg Silver

“It has so many influences on the legal profession and legal practice and how many ways it influences and shapes society generally,” said Maurer School of Law professor Carole Silver. “How many linkages are there between businesses that might be clients of lawyers and business activities, sales forces, marketing and communication overseas with regard to individuals? How much more mobile are individuals today and how does that implicate the need for law and lawyering? Mobility means travel, it means living overseas, it means immigrating, it means coming to Indiana and other places for study that may or may not turn into long-term stays in the United States. It has all kinds of implications.”

Politics also influence the spike in international law, as acts that have been on the books for years suddenly have gained importance to the role the U.S. plays in international trade. The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, a U.S. law against bribery of foreign public officials to obtain or retain a business advantage, was passed in 1977. In as recently as 2000, there was just one enforcement action that resulted in a $300,000 fine. By 2010, however, dozens of FCPA enforcement actions resulted in more than $1 billion in fines.

trent sandifur Sandifur

“Obviously the more globalization there is, the more potential there is for international bribery,” said Trent Sandifur, a partner at Taft Stettinius & Hollister, whose practice is built on FCPA. “It’s become more of an enforcement priority largely because the department of justice and (the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission) view it as a way to help developing countries … come out of a culture where bribery is much more accepted and a tolerated way of doing business. My job is to help companies set up programs to help employees and distributors and sales agents in remote areas of the world put procedures in place to prevent it.”

As such, the approach to practicing international law can vary. There are those like Sandifur who work from the U.S. with people overseas, and people who work with corporations that have branches in the U.S. or those traded on a U.S. exchange.

“That could be a U.S. client that wants to do a joint venture in China or Vietnam or a Vietnamese client that wants to invest in the United States with site selection or something like that,” said Pete Morse, co-chair of the global services practice group at Barnes & Thornburg. “Both are very different disciplines.”

pete morse Morse

Many large U.S. firms have opened overseas offices in jurisdictions where they have sufficient clientele, yet they, as well as firms without foreign offices, rely on a network of lawyers who offer services to those from outside their jurisdiction.

“When we’re working in a country where we don’t have an office, we work with an affiliation called Lex Mundi, and it has prescreened law firms for us that meet certain quality standards,” said Jackie Simmons, partner and co-leader of the international law practice at Faegre Baker Daniels. “All of the Lex Mundi affiliated law firms have agreed to work together as seamlessly as possible. That’s one way to get to know lawyers in other jurisdictions pretty well.”

International foundation

For those who are practicing international law now, those who look to practice it in the future, and those charged with teaching it, its foundation lies in cultural understanding. Approaching legal situations with as much knowledge about a particular foreign culture as possible gives attorneys in this field an edge.

“Respect the other party’s culture as well as their laws,” Simmons said. “You need to understand something about their culture. When I first started negotiating in China in 1995, and someone would tell me something would be very, very difficult, to an American, that’s just a challenge. To a Chinese person that means there’s no way the government is going to approve that. But they culturally cannot say there’s no way, so they will say it in a way that to them means no. You have to learn those cultural nuances.”

jackie simmons Simmons

The IU-Jindal dual degree program is a step toward gaining cultural understanding from the beginning. Similar programs with countries other than India only can facilitate greater familiarity with foreign legal systems and build cultural sensitivity and understanding. A student exchange program between IU and Jindal University already exists, and students interested in establishing an international law practice are encouraged to study a foreign language to improve communication, complete a summer program at an overseas firm, or work in a firm where international law is a specialty.

“Some of the best, most qualified candidates are those who make the ultimate investment and go work overseas for a period of time,” Morse said. “If someone was to say, ‘After law school I’m going to go to Hong Kong, Delhi, London or Munich and I’m going to work as a solicitor in one of these firms,’ that is a lot more attractive because you’re going to learn the language, you’re going to learn the culture. It’s really just putting yourself in the minds of the client and learning what the average bear doesn’t know.”•


Post a comment to this story

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. I have an open CHINS case I failed a urine screen I have since got clean completed IOP classes now in after care passed home inspection my x sister in law has my children I still don't even have unsupervised when I have been clean for over 4 months my x sister wants to keep the lids for good n has my case working with her I just discovered n have proof that at one of my hearing dcs case worker stated in court to the judge that a screen was dirty which caused me not to have unsupervised this was at the beginning two weeks after my initial screen I thought the weed could have still been in my system was upset because they were suppose to check levels n see if it was going down since this was only a few weeks after initial instead they said dirty I recently requested all of my screens from redwood because I take prescriptions that will show up n I was having my doctor look at levels to verify that matched what I was prescripted because dcs case worker accused me of abuseing when I got my screens I found out that screen I took that dcs case worker stated in court to judge that caused me to not get granted unsupervised was actually negative what can I do about this this is a serious issue saying a parent failed a screen in court to judge when they didn't please advise

  2. I have a degree at law, recent MS in regulatory studies. Licensed in KS, admitted b4 S& 7th circuit, but not to Indiana bar due to political correctness. Blacklisted, nearly unemployable due to hostile state action. Big Idea: Headwinds can overcome, esp for those not within the contours of the bell curve, the Lego Movie happiness set forth above. That said, even without the blacklisting for holding ideas unacceptable to the Glorious State, I think the idea presented above that a law degree open many vistas other than being a galley slave to elitist lawyers is pretty much laughable. (Did the law professors of Indiana pay for this to be published?)

  3. Paul Hartman of Burbank, Oh who is helping Sister Fuller with this Con Artist Kevin Bart McCarthy scares Sister Joseph Therese, Patricia Ann Fuller very much that McCarthy will try and hurt Patricia Ann Fuller and Paul Hartman of Burbank, Oh or any member of his family. Sister is very, very scared, (YES, I AM) This McCarthy guy is a real, real CON MAN and crook. I try to totall flatter Kevin Bart McCARTHY to keep him from hurting my best friends in this world which are Carolyn Rose and Paul Hartman. I Live in total fear of this man Kevin Bart McCarthy and try to praise him as a good man to keep us ALL from his bad deeds. This man could easy have some one cause us a very bad disability. You have to PRAISAE in order TO PROTECT yourself. He lies and makes up stories about people and then tries to steal if THEY OWN THRU THE COURTS A SPECIAL DEVOTION TO PROTECT, EX> Our Lady of America DEVOTION. EVERYONE who reads this, PLEASE BE CAREFUL of Kevin Bart McCarthy of Indianapolis, IN My Phone No. IS 419-435-3838.

  4. Joe, you might want to do some reading on the fate of Hoosier whistleblowers before you get your expectations raised up.

  5. I had a hospital and dcs caseworker falsify reports that my child was born with drugs in her system. I filed a complaint with the Indiana department of health....and they found that the hospital falsified drug screens in their investigation. Then I filed a complaint with human health services in Washington DC...dcs drug Testing is unregulated and is indicating false positives...they are currently being investigated by human health services. Then I located an attorney and signed contracts one month ago to sue dcs and Anderson community hospital. Once the suit is filed I am taking out a loan against the suit and paying a law firm to file a writ of mandamus challenging the courts jurisdiction to invoke chins case against me. I also forwarded evidence to a u.s. senator who contacted hhs to push an investigation faster. Once the lawsuit is filed local news stations will be running coverage on the situation. Easy day....people will be losing their jobs soon...and judge pancol...who has attempted to cover up what has happened will also be in trouble. The drug testing is a kids for cash and federal funding situation.