Many international law students are looking for a summer program that will introduce them to the US legal system. Boston College Law School’s Summer Institute: Foundations of US Law & Practice was created to give international visitors an immersive experience in US law, language, and culture.
Foundations, which recently completed its three-week-long program, brought 23 participants to campus from ESADE Law School in Barcelona and Renmin University in China, as well as a lawyer from Brazil. The program is an expansion of the Law School’s Insights into US Law program, which was founded by Professor Judy McMorrow. Insights began in 2011 as a means to encourage an exchange between BC Law and Renmin, but later expanded to include students from other countries.
In 2015, the summer program, renamed Foundations, grew from two to three weeks. It added daily intensive small group sessions, led by experienced faculty, to teach skills in common law analysis and oral and written communication. The expanded program included a formal partnership with ESADE, according to Professor Joan Blum, who led the program this year.
“We built on the wonderful program Judy created,” Blum said. “The participants were very enthusiastic about the small group sessions. The intensive work over a three-week period allowed them to make significant progress toward their educational goals.”
In surveys, 100 percent have rated the overall program either “very good” or “excellent,” with 93 percent rating the small group sessions as “essential.”
In the large seminars held across the Boston College campus, BC Law faculty provided an overview of their area of expertise, then developed a particular problem or issue that allowed participants to explore an aspect of the subject in greater depth. The goal was to introduce participants both to the subject matter and to a more vibrant and interactive teaching style than is common in many other countries. Participants spent time in Boston, attending a panel discussion and lunch at the law firm Holland and Knight, a meeting with the Attorney General, and a visit with Justice Robert Cordy of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. They also participated in cultural outings such as a visit to the MFA, a Duck Tour, and a tour of the Freedom Trail.
Blum said that bringing students in from different areas of the world fosters deep discussion and reflection. “The participants learned a lot from each other, as well as from their professors,” she said. “The program allowed us to dig deep into the similarities in various legal systems, as well highlight the differences.”