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University of San Diego: Excellence in international and comparative law

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As a major Pacific Rim gateway to Latin America, the Far East and Southeast Asia, San Diego is an exceptional location for the study and practice of international law. San Diego's border with Mexico, for example, generates innumerable legal issues involving immigration, investment, trade, labor and the environment, which reflect similar challenges throughout the world.

But it is not location alone that makes the University of San Diego School of Law an outstanding center for international and comparative law.

Members of USD's large and distinguished international and comparative law faculty teach a wide variety of courses in areas such as international trade and taxation, public international law, the law of the sea, immigration law and international litigation. They have taught and lectured throughout the world -- in Australia, Canada, China, England, France, India, Italy, Mexico, The Netherlands and Switzerland, among other countries.

International graduate law degree programs

The principal goal of the graduate programs at the School of Law is to provide an academic atmosphere in which the brightest legal minds engage in intellectual discourse from a wide variety of perspectives.

The lawyers who join us as LL.M. candidates work with faculty on legal policy issues, as well as legislative drafting and research in many areas of the law, while building practical negotiation and advocacy skills.

The diversity of its LL.M. students contributes to the richness of the law school. Upon graduation they continue their valuable contributions to the legal profession.

LL.M. in International Law

The LL.M. in International Law Program provides American law school graduates with a unique opportunity to study international law with leading faculty members and international visiting faculty in the field and side-by-side with the attorneys, judges and government officials from around the world enrolled in the LL.M. program in Comparative Law.

The flexibility of the program allows students to design their degree in the area of international business and transactions or in the arena of human rights or public interest with international or immigrant populations.

"I received my J.D. from USD in 1974," said Claudia Smith, an attorney with the California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation who was awarded her LL.M. in International Law by the School of Law in 2004. "I went back almost 30 years later for an LL.M. so that I could get a better grounding in international human rights law -- a specialty to which I had been gravitating for the past few years -- and the coursework has been invaluable to my work. I particularly appreciate the latitude that I was given to tailor the graduate program to fit my new interest."

LL.M. in Comparative Law for International Lawyers

The LL.M. in Comparative Law Program is specifically designed to introduce American law and the American legal system to those who have received law degrees from outside the United States.

The program prepares lawyers from other countries to deal effectively with American lawyers on questions of common interest, and aids lawyers serving foreign governments and international organizations in understanding issues involving American law. It also offers foreign law teachers a broader view of legal concepts and equips them to deal with comparative aspects of their subjects.

"In addition to being a leading center of legal education, the University of San Diego is almost kind of a family," said Yvan Cordova, professor of law at Universidad Mayor de San Andres, Bolivia, who received his LL.M. in Comparative Law from USD in 2004. "Through professional and personal one-on-one relationships, I received a high-quality legal education that has prepared me to help the people of my home country in the new and rapidly changing global environment."

Institute on International and Comparative Law

The School of Law, in cooperation with foreign universities, sponsors the Institute on International and Comparative Law. The institute conducts summer law study programs in England, France, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Russia and Spain.

The programs introduce American law students to foreign law and legal institutions and provide intensive study during four- to five-week sessions. Classes abroad sensitize students to the cultural differences that influence effective international dealing and expose students to the perspectives of foreign experts. All courses are taught in English by institute faculty.

For more information, contact the Institute on International and Comparative Law at (619) 260-7460 or visit the institute's Web site at www.sandiego.edu/lawabroad.

Immigration Clinic

Since the late 1970s, the law school's Immigration Clinic has helped San Diego's growing refugee and immigrant communities, including clients from Southeast Asia, East Africa, Central and South America, and Mexico.

Under the supervision of a licensed attorney, students interview, counsel and represent clients with immigration-related problems such as asylum, immigrating family members, naturalization and deportation. The clinic provides intensive training in immigration law and procedure.

San Diego International Law Journal

The San Diego International Law Journal is an academic journal dedicated to expanding the field of international and comparative legal scholarship. It is committed to publishing articles, essays and book reviews written by academics all over the world.

The journal is especially devoted to publishing pieces written by academics and practitioners who are involved in international and multinational organizations. Recent topics have included military detention and the judiciary; human development challenges in Africa; international law and the pre-emptive use of force; and defining the elements of crimes against humanity.

Published semiannually, one of the journal's two issues focuses on the law of the sea each year. The San Diego International Law Journal is managed by students; membership on the journal's board is based on high academic achievement and excellence in legal writing.

"The San Diego International Law Journal is devoted to critical thinking, the free discussion of ideas, and the inclusion of perspectives from different nations, communities, cultures and legal systems," said Amit Parekh, a member of the law school's Class of 2005 and editor-in-chief of the San Diego International Law Journal.


Decker is director of publications at the University of San Diego School of Law.

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