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Robel: Preparing for seamlessly global profession

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Indiana Lawyer Commentary

By Lauren K. Robel
 

robel-lauren-dean-mug Robel

What does the future hold for the law students who began their studies a few weeks ago in Bloomington and across the United States? As the press fills with concerns about the economic viability of a law degree, and the fragile economic climate continues, how should law schools be reimagining the education they provide to students who will be practicing well into the middle of this century? An important part of the answer to that question involves grappling seriously with the effects of globalization on legal practice and the profession.

I saw a part of what the future holds for my students in the office of Shardul Shroff, managing partner of the largest law firm in India, Amarchand & Mangaldas & Suresh A. Shroff & Co. Mr. Shroff was demonstrating the phenomenal teleconferencing system that permits the firm to engage in commercial arbitration from its Delhi offices, but attach jurisdiction anywhere in the world. In the Amarchand conference room, as in many of its U.S. counterparts, practice is seamlessly global.

I had seen the future as well in my conversations with the young cosmopolitan lawyers at S & R Associates, literally across the street. Educated in multiple countries including our own, with resumes that include Wall Street law firms, these lawyers had built a successful capital transactions practice that ignores national borders. One of their latest deals had them working with Armachand, Latham & Watkins, and Shearman & Sterling on an IPO on the NASDAQ.

The formal lawyer regulatory structure, both here and abroad, is increasingly overmatched by facts on the ground. While foreign lawyers are prohibited from joining the Indian bar, many Indian firms, like their counterparts in Brazil and China, work with foreign lawyers daily. And they have generously welcomed students from Indiana University Maurer School of Law, as have other firms, NGOs, and corporate legal offices in Delhi, São Paulo, and Beijing. These students gained legal and cultural experience and an understanding of their professional counterparts as part of the school’s Center on the Global Legal Profession’s programs. Increasing the number of our students who spend the summer after their first year in internships in these markets is a high priority for our faculty.

Need we even ask why? The economics of globalization are a stunning given in these students’ lives, and these countries have enviable growth rates: in India, close to 8 percent annually; in China, over 10 percent. As one of the students who worked in India said admiringly, “The zeitgeist of India is growth.” An increasingly large part of the legal work that emanates from business will come from these growing economies. Our students worked on an array of legal issues this summer, from resisting an Interpol “red notice” to addressing legal questions about Internet gambling, to the issues surrounding microfinance for street vendors. The legal issues our students addressed flow across borders, involve both national and supra-national regulatory structures and institutions, and increasingly involve teams of lawyers from multiple countries. Much of the legal world, both foreign and domestic, is now transnational.

And this geographically porous legal practice is not simply – or even mostly –the domain of international law. I talked last week to a lawyer in a single-person office in an Indiana town of 2,000 who has outsourced research to India – and been quite satisfied with the results. Other Indiana lawyers deal daily with the legal effects of a smaller and flatter world on families and small businesses. “Thinking like a lawyer” is, for this generation of students, necessarily a global endeavor.

If the zeitgeist of the developing world is growth, that of the academic world is global mobility. Indeed, we are awash in it, from the Indian, Chinese, and Korean lawyers who assume that career advancement includes a degree from overseas, to that admiring Maurer student who went from his Indian internship to our joint-degree MBA program in Seoul. The leader of one of our Indian partner institutions is a human-rights lawyer with degrees from India, Oxford and Harvard. His legal career took him through Singapore and Tokyo, and his understanding of the legal needs of the global future is existential and deep. He recruits faculty and students from around the world. Our academic institutions must be equally adept at understanding this future, and in close conversation with our global counterparts, if we are to prepare students to meet those challenges effectively.

While the U.S. and the U.K. have been the destinations of choice for these globally oriented lawyers and academics, nothing about that arrangement is written in stone. Asian countries increasingly offer J.D. degrees with common-law and transnational curricula, as does Australia. Keeping the U.S. law school experience attractive to these students is as important to the way we train American lawyers, who need to develop their own global networks, as it is to the Chinese lawyers who want to understand what has made the U.S. legal system so durable.

To do that, shouldn’t we assure that the educational experience of the lawyers we are now educating is as seamlessly global as that Armachand conference room? Our classrooms, and our thinking, need to be informed by that room, and by the globalization that is an inevitable part of our students’ futures.•

__________

Lauren K. Robel
is Dean and Val Nolan Professor of Law at Indiana University Maurer School of Law. Opinions expressed are the author’s.

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  1. What a fine article, thank you! I can testify firsthand and by detailed legal reports (at end of this note) as to the dire consequences of rejecting this truth from the fine article above: "The inclusion and expansion of this right [to jury] in Indiana’s Constitution is a clear reflection of our state’s intention to emphasize the importance of every Hoosier’s right to make their case in front of a jury of their peers." Over $20? Every Hoosier? Well then how about when your very vocation is on the line? How about instead of a jury of peers, one faces a bevy of political appointees, mini-czars, who care less about due process of the law than the real czars did? Instead of trial by jury, trial by ideological ordeal run by Orwellian agents? Well that is built into more than a few administrative law committees of the Ind S.Ct., and it is now being weaponized, as is revealed in articles posted at this ezine, to root out post moderns heresies like refusal to stand and pledge allegiance to all things politically correct. My career was burned at the stake for not so saluting, but I think I was just one of the early logs. Due, at least in part, to the removal of the jury from bar admission and bar discipline cases, many more fires will soon be lit. Perhaps one awaits you, dear heretic? Oh, at that Ind. article 12 plank about a remedy at law for every damage done ... ah, well, the founders evidently meant only for those damages done not by the government itself, rabid statists that they were. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) My written reports available here: Denied petition for cert (this time around): http://tinyurl.com/zdmawmw Denied petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): http://tinyurl.com/zcypybh Related, not written by me: Amicus brief: http://tinyurl.com/hvh7qgp

  2. Justice has finally been served. So glad that Dr. Ley can finally sleep peacefully at night knowing the truth has finally come to the surface.

  3. While this right is guaranteed by our Constitution, it has in recent years been hampered by insurance companies, i.e.; the practice of the plaintiff's own insurance company intervening in an action and filing a lien against any proceeds paid to their insured. In essence, causing an additional financial hurdle for a plaintiff to overcome at trial in terms of overall award. In a very real sense an injured party in exercise of their right to trial by jury may be the only party in a cause that would end up with zero compensation.

  4. Why in the world would someone need a person to correct a transcript when a realtime court reporter could provide them with a transcript (rough draft) immediately?

  5. This article proved very enlightening. Right ahead of sitting the LSAT for the first time, I felt a sense of relief that a score of 141 was admitted to an Indiana Law School and did well under unique circumstances. While my GPA is currently 3.91 I fear standardized testing and hope that I too will get a good enough grade for acceptance here at home. Thanks so much for this informative post.

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