Promoting Intercultural Legal Competence
In last year's newsletter, we announced our initiative to promote what we are calling intercultural legal competence — the ability of attorneys to deal with parties from different nations and cultures and to handle disputes and transactions involving different legal systems. This initiative kicked off a year ago last August with a conference at Lake Tahoe (the "Tahoe II" conference to follow on the success of our earlier conference at the same location in which we explored methods to globalize the law school curriculum). At the Tahoe II conference 39 professors from universities in the United States and abroad met to discuss how to promote intercultural legal competence in law school students. We are pleased to announce that a comprehensive report on the discussions at this conference, accompanied by written remarks from speakers there, will soon be published in the Pacific McGeorge Global Business & Development Law Journal. The report provides its readers an extended exploration of the learning objectives sought in promoting intercultural legal competence and a menu of curricular vehicles for achieving these objectives. Please contact us if you would like to receive a copy of this report prior to its publication.
Among the ways in which Pacific McGeorge seeks to promote intercultural legal competence is our Inter-American Program — an innovative law school educational initiative designed to graduate bilingual and intercultural lawyers who are competent to work with Latino clients in the U.S. or on Latin American matters. Professor Raquel Aldana is the director of the Program.
This program introduces students to Latino and Latin American issues through substantive legal instruction in both English and Spanish as part of a Latin-American or Latino-focused curriculum. Students can participate in bilingual and intercultural experiential placements in the U.S. or internationally and co-enroll with Guatemalan and other Latin American students in Pacific McGeorge's uniquely bilingual and intercultural summer program in Antigua, Guatemala. Locally, students provide needed legal services in Spanish to the Latino community in the greater Sacramento area through a series of community service projects. Students may also take substantive law courses taught in Spanish through participation in a Pacific McGeorge semester-abroad exchange program at Universidad Francisco de Vitoria in Madrid, Spain. After only four years, more than 180 students from Pacific McGeorge and other law schools have participated in the different aspects of the program.
As a further effort to promote intercultural legal competence, last year Pacific McGeorge introduced its innovative Post-Internship Intercultural Legal Competence Workshop to follow overseas internships by Pacific McGeorge students. In this workshop, students engage in comparative reflections upon the legal and broader cultural differences they encountered during their internships. Please contact us if you would like a copy of the extensive topic outline we prepared in order to guide students in their observations and reflections during overseas internships.