In the last two decades, we have seen a deepening convergence of international and domestic law in virtually every substantive area. Despite this fact, law schools have yet to take up the challenge of ensuring that our future lawyers are equipped to work effectively in an increasingly globalized arena where interaction between domestic principles and rules and international treaties and customary law is increasingly complex and pivotal.

One of the keys to meeting this new pedagogical challenge is the international law clinic. Although such clinics have been around in various forms for two decades or more, only recently has there been such an expansive interest in the intersection of human rights law and clinical legal education in the United States.

Although there are now many U.S. law schools with international human rights and immigration clinics, which engage students in research, advocacy, and litigation in international and domestic courts and institutions, recently we have started to see an interesting shift in the norms and methodologies used in such clinics. While still in place, the more traditional framework of the international clinic, providing a venue for students to work in the classroom setting on international litigation matters, is increasingly moving across the spectrum toward models in which the focus of the clinic, its location, the types of projects worked on, the partners and clients involved, and the strategies used to achieve the desired ends have all changed. The breadth of these changes will have a tremendous impact on the influence of international law on the pedagogy and practice of clinical legal education, on the promotion of compliance by states and corporations with international law, and the development of new regional and global legal regimes. All of these issues are of such critical importance that intense academic and practical interest is sure to grow apace in the coming years.

In some cases these shifts have been driven by recognition of weaknesses and blind-spots in existing human rights practice, in other cases by recognition of changed circumstances or new contexts. For example, the deepening and expanding field of economic, social, and cultural rights is today prompting discernable shifts in the praxis and pedagogy of international legal clinics and the ways in which collaborative projects (especially in the global south) are being developed. At the same time, clinics are seeking to forge new strategies and approaches in rapidly evolving areas of private, comparative, and transnational law in an effort to advance public interest objectives on issues as divergent as investment, finance, economic development, and migration.

The symposium will bring together a diverse group of international lawyers, scholars, and clinicians from around the world to discuss the respective trajectories and intersections of international law and clinical legal education. Proceedings will begin on the evening of Wednesday, November 17 with a keynote lecture followed by a reception and dinner. The symposium itself will consist of four panels held on Thursday, November 18. The papers presented at the conference will later be published in Volume 26 of the Maryland Journal of International Law.

Sponsored by the International & Comparative Law Program.

Browse the contents of Re-imagining International Clinical Law, November 17-18, 2010: