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International Students Gain Insights Into US Law

BC Law summer program is now in its fifth year.

Photographs by Jared Charney

The “Insights into US Law” program at BC Law School entered its fifth year this summer, and for the first time was open not only to participants from Renmin University, but also to students from other countries.

According to BC Law Professor Judith McMorrow, who founded and runs the program, the level of interest from international students looking for a short summer program to test their English skills and get a brief overview of the US legal system, was the impetus for broadening the diversity of the student body. “Insights into US Law” began as a means to encourage exchanges between BC Law and Renmin.

This year, students from Ethiopia, Brazil, India, Chile, and a practicing attorney from Ecuador joined the Chinese cohort in learning about the various US legal specialties.

In instructional sessions held across the Boston College campus, BC Law faculty provide an overview of their area of expertise, then develop a particular problem or issue that allows the students to explore an aspect of the subject in greater depth.

The goal is to introduce the students both to the subject matter and to a more vibrant and interactive teaching style than is common in many other countries.

Jose Francisco Scarneo from Chile described as “awesome” the classroom interaction between students and teachers at BC. “American teaching methods are so different from what I’m used to in Chile, “ he said. “Here, teachers ask a lot of questions and encourage students to participate; all the teachers were amazing. In Chile they mostly just talk at the students.”

In addition to classroom sessions, the visitors enjoy legal and cultural outings, including tours of Boston and the Freedom Trail, court visits, and meetings with judges and lawyers. This year, for example, John D. Hanify ’74 hosted a luncheon at his law firm, Jones Day, because students were very curious to know how an American firm operates.

“We were pleased to host this very engaging group of international students,” Hanify said. “Given our shared global orientation, we welcomed the opportunity to have this dialogue about how the Boston and New England practice of Jones Day supports the business goals and ambitions of our clients throughout the world.”

McMorrow said the mix of students in this year’s program, held July 20 to Aug. 1, made a noticeable difference in the exchange of ideas. “It really enriches the experience to have students from multiple countries,” she explained. “They have interesting comparative discussions among themselves and they bring different insights and experiences into the classes.”