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Should 1Ls take international law?

So asks Duncan Hollis. The answer is No! There is no reason to take international law in your first year. There is no reason to take international law in any year unless you want to work as a lawyer in the State Department or certain obscure precincts of the Justice Department, hope to work for an international organization such as the United Nations or an international NGO with a legal agenda such as Human Rights Watch, or have an academic or intellectual interest in international law and international relations. If you are in any of these categories, wait till your second year. For most law students, who aspire to work in regular law firms, or in prosecutor's offices and other government agencies outside the State Department, the chance that you will encounter the type of issue taught in a public international law course over the course of your career is close to zero. So don't take it at all--unless you think it might be interesting.

Do not confuse public international law and private international law! Private international law, which essentially involves choice-of-law issues, could be useful if you expect to work for a law firm whose clients include corporations that do business across borders. Do not confuse public international land and comparative law! Comparative law, which introduces you to foreign legal systems, could conceivably be useful but probably is not. The types of public international law concepts that might come in handy for a law firm lawyer—such as treaty interpretation—are easily picked up.

Law schools have always offered public international law courses, as they should. These courses have always been poorly attended, which is also how things should be. In recent years, a number of law schools have expanded and highlighted their international law offerings, and have created elective or mandatory international law courses for the first year. These changes do not rest on any coherent theory of pedagogic priorities. They are marketing gimmicks that play off buzzwords like globalization. They do little more than reflect transitory intellectual fashions. They are patronizing efforts to turn you into citizens-of-the-world. If you have time on your hands and want to learn something that might increase your value to future employers, take statistics!

ender:
you've just described my first year, public international law course.
9.3.2009 5:37pm
ender:
although i did read your (and jack goldsmith's) book as we progressed in class. i thought your critique of opinio juris in paquete habana was fantastic.
9.3.2009 5:39pm
Pliny, the Elder (mail):
In immigration law, a few cases decided under the Convention Against Torture, but I still agree that a course in Int. Law need not be taken (though I took a couple)
9.3.2009 5:45pm
hmmm:
So much for broadening your horizons or bothering to understand world events. . .
9.3.2009 5:46pm
John Jenkins (mail):
hmmm, an International Law course won't do any of those things (though a seminar might). Besides, Prof. Posner said you don't *need* to take International Law, but if you were interested go right ahead.

The impact of International Law on world events is close to zero in any real sense, anyway. If you want to understand world events, then read about them, not International Law.
9.3.2009 5:48pm
troll_dc2 (mail):
International law is interesting, but it really is not a first-year-appropriate course because it does not lay the foundation for later courses the way that contracts, torts, property, civil procedure, and property (to some extent) do. I took an international law course my third year, and that was soon enough.
9.3.2009 5:49pm
Blue:
For most law students, statistics will be a hell of a lot more "broadening of horizons" than I-Law!
9.3.2009 5:51pm
UChicago Student:
I'm confused.

Prof. Posner: didn't you teach PIL as one of the (few) 1L electives last year at Chicago?

So are your views on the course recently changed? If so, what caused that change?

And if not... why did you bother to offer it to 1Ls?
9.3.2009 5:51pm
ppimm:
People who took it at my school (which touts our "international program") were bored out of their gourds. no thanks.
9.3.2009 5:52pm
David Welker (www):
Your post presumes, without providing any reasons, that the required courses should be oriented towards law practice. But the purpose of law school is also education, not merely career training. This is especially so because much of the most effective career training must occur in the context of doing, and not theorizing.

Indeed, there is much more that law schools could do, if their goal was simply to prepare future lawyers for law practice. But the duties of law schools go beyond teaching lawyers to serve the narrow interests of their clients, but also teaching them something about citizenship.

International law SHOULD be a required course.
9.3.2009 5:54pm
Kalmer:
I loved my PIL at course at Northwestern but I agree that it's not for first years. You should take, it if there is a good professor that teaches it.

Of course, you could cut law school to two years and eliminate all electives.
9.3.2009 5:56pm
Asterix:
If only undergraduate curricula could be viewed in the same light.
9.3.2009 6:02pm
Aramaic:
I think this is a poor argument. On what basis should one study property in the first year (how useful, after all, are easements, or the rule against perpetuities, for summer associates)? Or criminal procedure? Does a first-year associate need to know the exceptions to the warrant requirement? Why take any of the first-year courses?

I think one can fairly critique the first-year courses in general, but to blithely say that public international law in particular is not useful and is nothing more than a marketing gimmick seems a bit silly. Can one discuss the legality of the Iraq invasion, or rendition, or torture, or immigration, without having a clue about what public international law is?
9.3.2009 6:02pm
one of many:
Your post presumes, without providing any reasons, that the required courses should be oriented towards law practice. But the purpose of law school is also education, not merely career training. This is especially so because much of the most effective career training must occur in the context of doing, and not theorizing.

Indeed, there is much more that law schools could do, if their goal was simply to prepare future lawyers for law practice. But the duties of law schools go beyond teaching lawyers to serve the narrow interests of their clients, but also teaching them something about citizenship.

International law SHOULD be a required course.

Is there a line for this? Should sculpture also be taught to 1Laws? The purpose of law school (and all graduate level schools) is not to create better people or to provide general education - that in theory is the job of the elementary schools and at worst the undergraduate schools
9.3.2009 6:05pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):

Comparative law, which introduces you to foreign legal systems, could conceivably be useful but probably is not.


Comparative law is a really fascinating field. For example, comparisons between the Twelve Tables and the Laws of Manu have shown common, nontrivial, non-universal elements in common suggesting a common source of at least some elements of law.

Oh... you are going to school to become a lawyer? Nevermind then.
9.3.2009 6:17pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
(Meaning Laws of Manu and Twelve Tables seem to have some origins in common, probably arising from shared Indo-European heritage, in case that wasn't clear.)
9.3.2009 6:18pm
OrinKerr:
So much for broadening your horizons or bothering to understand world events. . .

I am all in favor of making "Legal Blog Reading" a required 1L course.
9.3.2009 6:18pm
Rodger Lodger (mail):
Somebody up there thinks public int'l law should be required, to 'broaden' the future lawyers. Perhaps, but we don't require criminal procedure. That's right, you can become a lawyer without knowing what habeas corpus is.
9.3.2009 6:22pm
UChicago Student:
In defense of Prof. Posner, he did include a pretty big caveat in the post: "So don't take it at all--unless you think it might be interesting."
9.3.2009 6:23pm
Steve:
International law is interesting, but it really is not a first-year-appropriate course because it does not lay the foundation for later courses the way that contracts, torts, property, civil procedure, and property (to some extent) do.

This.
9.3.2009 6:24pm
Perseus (mail):
But the duties of law schools go beyond teaching lawyers to serve the narrow interests of their clients, but also teaching them something about citizenship.

International law SHOULD be a required course.



I don't see how citizenship, which is inherently domestic (one's own), has all that much to do with international law unless the aim is to undermine citizenship ("citizen of the world" nonsense).
9.3.2009 6:30pm
CheckEnclosed (mail):
Yes, Yes, Yes -- Statistics!

Any expert witness you eventually work with (or oppose) who spends time looking at real data and analizing it will be using sound or unsoud statistical methods. Be the only associate in yor class who knows the difference. Many lawyers are almost proud of being bad at math . . . and some of them ar partners. Having a useful skill that they don't might not make you indispensable, but it's a Good Thing.
9.3.2009 6:43pm
Aguirre:
DoD probably does as much international law as the State Department. Certainly not for 1Ls, but if a student wanted to be a JAG and then after some years transition into DoD international law work as a civilian, taking the class might be a useful intro.
9.3.2009 6:44pm
lawyer12456 (mail):
This post is SOOOOO correct! And when I see lower ranked schools -- whose students are struggling to find document review work -- touting their international law certifications and degrees, I actually get angry. It's consumer fraud. Academia has its fashions no less than any field. Academics are fortunate, however, because they don't pick up the tab for the fads. The students do.
9.3.2009 7:03pm
Curmudgeonly Ex-Clerk (www):
David Welker wrote:
Your post presumes, without providing any reasons, that the required courses should be oriented towards law practice. But the purpose of law school is also education, not merely career training. This is especially so because much of the most effective career training must occur in the context of doing, and not theorizing.
In my opinion, law schools primarily should focus on providing their students with the educational background necessary to practice law. Given the cost of a legal education, law schools would be doing a serious disservice to most of their students if the mandatory first-year curriculum concerned itself with legal education in some more general sense rather than concentrating on the fundamentals most relevant to practice (e.g., property, procedure, contracts, constitutional law, criminal law, torts). To a somewhat lesser degree, I think the same is true of the second- and third-year curricula as well (i.e., that the primary focus should be on courses that offer potential value in practice; e.g., secured transactions, business associations, wills and estates).
9.3.2009 7:08pm
David Welker (www):
Curmudgeonly Ex-Clerk,

Your argument fails, based on its own premises. (I do not share your premises, but even I did, your argument still fails.)

How many lawyers IP lawyers, for example, really need to know much about Criminal Law? Real Property? Criminal Procedure? If the occasional case comes around involving these issues, they could just hit the books and do some research.

By the way, have you ever noticed the courses in Contracts rarely teach one how to actually draft a contract?

I think these should be required courses anyway. It is good for lawyers to have a general education in law. Public international law is a different sort of beast. Just as it is good for a lawyer primarily dealing with transactional work to nonetheless know something about the 4th Amendment and criminal procedure, it is good for that lawyer to know something about public international law.

But whether you agree with my view of what the objective of law school should be, it seems to me that your view would in fact require a radical restructuring of legal education as it now exists, contrary to your assertions otherwise.
9.3.2009 7:20pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
OP: 1
David Welker: 0
9.3.2009 7:40pm
Pragmaticist:
I was required to take a course in International Law as a 1L at FIU College of Law where attendance was mandatory. Thank God I was able to surf the net during class.
9.3.2009 7:57pm
Randy R. (mail):
Instead of "INternational Law" as a separate, the regular law classes such as torts, contracts, property law, etc, should have an international component. Many people hold property of some sorts in foreign countries, and many businesses conduct business overseas, or enter into a joint partnership, or set up subsidiary corporations abroad. Heck, I even know one criminal defense attorney who claims she is international crim def attorney because she has a specialty on subpoeaning people who live in other countries.

I realize that each course is already overloaded with material. But some exposure to these issues is, in my view, critical for any attorney to practice in today's world.
9.3.2009 8:05pm
Mark N. (www):
Without commenting on the merits of the idea, I think it's hard to characterize the build-citizens-of-the-world thing as a "transitory intellectual fashion", unless you have a very long view of what constitutes "transitory".
9.3.2009 8:05pm
Curmudgeonly Ex-Clerk (www):
A student with zero legal knowledge has to begin somewhere, and, in my judgment, it's best to start with the building blocks of the American legal system. Almost no one shows up at law school with the explicit intention of being an IP lawyer, to use your example; so one can hardly base the mandatory curriculum around such career choices. Of course, I did not suggest that the curriculum should focus on whatever specialized niche of the law a particular student eventually may come to occupy as a practitioner.

Rather, what I asserted is that legal education primarily should seek to provide students with the theoretical background most relevant to the practice of law in general. All of the traditional foundational classes do that in concert. It may well be good for a lawyer to know about many other areas of the law, ceteris paribus; but, time and money are finite, so choices must be made about the relative value of various fields of study. In my opinion, students are better served by a legal education that provides them with the background most relevant to practice, especially given that the goal of most law students is to practice law.

Nor did I suggest that legal education should focus upon practical exercises, such as contract drafting. Such tasks are best left to the on-the-job training that occurs in the early years of a lawyer's practice in his chosen field. But this circumstance does not gainsay the fact that some courses of study, such as those that customarily have been the focus of the mandatory first-year curriculum, are far more useful in preparing lawyers to practice law than others. Though I am not a probate lawyer, I have on multiple occasions in practice found my law school study of Wills &Estates useful, for example. Emergence of Modern European Law, while interesting, has proven far less useful, however.
9.3.2009 8:11pm
Downfall:
For most law students, who aspire to work in regular law firms, or in prosecutor's offices and other government agencies outside the State Department, the chance that you will encounter the type of issue taught in a public international law course over the course of your career is close to zero.

The same could be said of most of what's mandatory in 1L year. I'm still waiting for my rule against perpetuities litigation.
9.3.2009 8:15pm
Disintelligentsia (mail):
B-b-b-but isn't international law on equal footing with the Constitution?? Isn't that what Ginsberg, Stevens, et al. think? I mean, how can you know what rights we have under the Constitution and what duties we owe as a Nation unless we listen carefully to what our international brothers think on these matters? Tish-tosh! Such ignorance. Clearly, PIL should be a foundational class taken before Con Law!
9.3.2009 8:22pm
youpeopleareajoke (mail):
shouldn't all you jokers be studying? Good luck getting jobs!!
9.3.2009 8:31pm
Ben P:
My school didn't even have first year electives, every student took the exact same first year courses. PRoperty, Contracts, Civ Pro, Crim, Torts, ConLaw, LRW
9.3.2009 8:52pm
Patent Lawyer (mail):
In law school, I signed up for an International Law course. The entire first class was spent trying to justify its existence. I dropped the class shortly thereafter. However, I did a Space Law moot court that year (my 2nd) as well, in which I learned a fair bit about public international law and treaty interpretation.

That moot court turned into a published law review article (on International Space Law), and it turned out that I used my background in treaty interpretation in my 2L summer job on a trademark case concerning the foreign famous marks doctrine.

But I found it somewhat interesting, at least as applied to trade treaties (human rights law and laws of war, on the other hand, I find much less interesting). I certainly wouldn't require it at any level, much less 1L year--especially when many schools don't require criminal procedure and evidence, which are actually tested on the bar.

I do think NYU's first year curriculum was ideal - Torts, Crim, CivPro, Contracts, Admin, a full year Lawyering course (research, writing, and some oral argument), and a restricted elective (one of Con Law, Evidence, Int'l Law, Property, or Corporations). Those first 5 courses are the ones that are foundational and necessary for pretty much every lawyer. Yes, even IP lawyers (principles of crim law will come in handy when your clients start suggesting maneuvers that constitute criminal antitrust violations! And don't forget the criminal copyright statute for soft IP folks.)
9.3.2009 8:53pm
The River Temoc (mail):
I agree that law students who want to do international work are better off focusing on private international law, on grounds of marketability -- there's more demand for knowledge of Regulation S than for opinio juris!

And I particularly agree that statistics courses add a lot of value, although of course that point augurs against going to law school at all, as opposed to B-school or public policy programs. But that's another debate.

But I would disagree with the essence of your post on two grounds. First, iin fields such as sovereign debt issuance or securities issuances by state-owned companies, concepts like sovereign immunity and the act of state doctrine can be very important. I would imagine this is even more true for litigators.

Does that mean an aspiring lawyer should take only public international law courses? Of course not. But we're talking one course here, not an entire three-year curriculum; and I see no reason why that can't be in the second semester of 1L year, because it lays a foundation for future coursework.

Second, three years to do a JD is a long time -- too long, if you ask me, but that, too, is another debate. I agree that most courses should have some practical relevance, but there's no reason why you can't squeeze in a couple because of intellectual curiosity.
9.3.2009 8:58pm
The River Temoc (mail):
Instead of "INternational Law" as a separate, the regular law classes such as torts, contracts, property law, etc, should have an international component. Many people hold property of some sorts in foreign countries, and many businesses conduct business overseas, or enter into a joint partnership, or set up subsidiary corporations abroad

Now, this I strongly disagree with -- a U.S. lawyer is hired to advise on U.S. law, and a client who, say, holds property abroad needs local counsel, not U.S. counsel. Trying to teach foreign law to U.S. lawyers will only dilute the expertise that they're hired for.
9.3.2009 9:04pm
The River Temoc (mail):
Almost no one shows up at law school with the explicit intention of being an IP lawyer, to use your example

I think a lot of people do just that. I showed up knowing from Day 1 that I didn't want to be a litigator, and I thought it was useless to sit through things like criminal procedure.

This is one thing I think Yale Law School gets right. The only truly necessary 1L courses are civil procedure, torts, and contracts. *Perhaps* you can add property and con law to that list. But criminal law? That, IMO, ought to be treated like we treat tax -- as something to be taught in the 2L/3L years, or as a stand-alone LLM program.
9.3.2009 9:07pm
The River Temoc (mail):
The only truly necessary 1L courses are civil procedure, torts, and contracts.

To follow up on my own post -- thinking about it, I'd probably add admin law to that list.
9.3.2009 9:09pm
Ben P:

This post is SOOOOO correct! And when I see lower ranked schools -- whose students are struggling to find document review work -- touting their international law certifications and degrees, I actually get angry. It's consumer fraud. Academia has its fashions no less than any field. Academics are fortunate, however, because they don't pick up the tab for the fads. The students do.


There's a serious problem with this, also along the lines of what Curmudgenly Ex-Clerk was saying.

Except in that law school classes "teach one how to think like a lawyer" (that is read cases and reason your way through the principles involved) very few of them have any serious bearing on a student's ability to get a job after graduation.

A student's ability to get a job after graduation, at least the kind of job you're talking about is highly dependant on the USNews Rank of a School. And like it or not, the USNews rank of a school is very heavily dependent on the opinion surveys of other professors.

If the best ranked schools had anything to do with the best actual training of lawyers, the best ranked schools would be those with strong legal writing programs and strong clinic programs.

But they don't, students that tout a schools legal writing program are only deemed to be doing so because their school's "serious academics" aren't up to snuff. The quality of those "serious academic" programs are judged by, you guessed it, academics.


I took public international because I had an interest in the subject. I don't really think it should be required, but by all means schools should be offering it.
9.3.2009 9:15pm
MarkField (mail):

I'm still waiting for my rule against perpetuities litigation.


I once won a case on the rule against perpetuities. Made me very glad my properties prof. taught it thoroughly.

In the ideal case, all entering law students would know in advance what kind of law they wanted to practice and structure their curriculum accordingly. That isn't very likely, and in fact I'm sure a lot of students (like me, for example) only decide after they've taken the classes.

What this suggests is that the schools should be offering classes in those areas most commonly used by practitioners. That, at least, exposes the student to the most probable careers.

The real problem is the Bar Exam. Most states cover far too many subjects, and students feel obligated to take classes they don't really care about in order to be able to answer a single Exam question on that topic. There should be fewer subjects covered, and students should then feel free to take subjects of potential interest to them.
9.3.2009 9:24pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Ex-Clerk:

A student with zero legal knowledge has to begin somewhere, and, in my judgment, it's best to start with the building blocks of the American legal system. Almost no one shows up at law school with the explicit intention of being an IP lawyer, to use your example; so one can hardly base the mandatory curriculum around such career choices. Of course, I did not suggest that the curriculum should focus on whatever specialized niche of the law a particular student eventually may come to occupy as a practitioner.


IANAL, but I agree with this sentiment. I do wonder, however, whether fulfilling this potential would in fact require a real grounding in comparative law, so that one might understand how the Louisiana Civil Law system differs from the New York Common Law system.

It might have helped clarify many of the arguments about stare decisis on this blog a while back.
9.3.2009 9:35pm
Patent Lawyer (mail):
The real problem is the Bar Exam.

Especially when it comes to real property and crim law - areas really heavily tested on the bar, but tangential to many major practices.

The irrelevance of most state bar exam topics to IP law (and, I'm sure, other primarily federal fields) is the major reason I'd like to see federal specialized bar exams for practice areas nearly wholly pre-empted by federal law.
9.3.2009 9:35pm
Leo Marvin (mail):
I tend to agree with the OP. Though I enjoyed my International Law class (taken third year), twenty years later what I remember totals six letters: UNCLOS. I wish I'd taken accounting.
9.3.2009 9:46pm
ERH:
There is no reason to take international law in any year unless you want to work as a lawyer in the State Department or certain obscure precincts of the Justice Department, hope to work for an international organization such as the United Nations or an international NGO with a legal agenda such as Human Rights Watch, or have an academic or intellectual interest in international law and international relations.

Poppycock! A course in international law due to its shall we say nebulous nature probably requires more critical thinking than shall we say IBT.
9.3.2009 10:01pm
Fedya (www):
Look on the bright side, Leo: you can defend pirates in court. ;-)

At least you're not an expert on the Moon Treaty. I can't imagine what use that would have.
9.3.2009 10:06pm
Leo Marvin (mail):
Fedya:

Look on the bright side, Leo: you can defend pirates in court. ;-)

I didn't say I remembered what UNCLOS means, much less what it contains. (OK, I do know what it means, but that's really about the extent of it.)
9.3.2009 10:17pm
Connecticut Lawyer (mail):
Generally speaking, once you get past the basics (contracts, torts, criminal law, criminal procedure and civil procedure) you should choose your classes by how good the professor is.
9.3.2009 10:27pm
MarkField (mail):

The irrelevance of most state bar exam topics to IP law (and, I'm sure, other primarily federal fields) is the major reason I'd like to see federal specialized bar exams for practice areas nearly wholly pre-empted by federal law.


I agree. I'd like to see some states implement something like this as an experiment.
9.3.2009 10:30pm
Dave N (mail):
Somebody up there thinks public int'l law should be required, to 'broaden' the future lawyers. Perhaps, but we don't require criminal procedure. That's right, you can become a lawyer without knowing what habeas corpus is.
I took CrimPro; I took Evidence; I took just about every criminally related class offered because I knew I wanted to become a prosecutor.

I knew what habeas corpus was but really had no clue of its function until I started actually PRACTICING federal habeas corpus law.
9.3.2009 11:00pm
Skyler (mail) (www):
Eh, I took Public and International Law and it seems it would be important if you want to be a lobbyist for a foreign nation or work somehow with foreign governments. It is almost entirely political, not legal, and is as easily ignored as complied with. Int'l law is essentially a tool by which nations pummel each other, either by the powerful jerking the chains of lesser nations, or how third world nations evoke sympathy for their own power grabs by ganging up on the bigger nations.

So, even though I took conflict of laws, comparative law, and PIL, (and even national securlity law) I think they were all a waste of time except for the fact that they scored me points in the right categories of credits needed for graduation. I'd have much rather taken another class on trusts or income tax, procedure, or something else useful.
9.4.2009 12:06am
David Hardy (mail) (www):
If it's necessary for the students to broader their education into fields that they will never, ever, deal with in real life, I'd like to volunteer my proposed seminar on Third Amendment Law. Rendered obsolete by the invention of barracks? That's what the skeptics would have you believe!

Truly a dismal nonscience.
9.4.2009 12:09am
Skyler (mail) (www):
David, they had barracks back in the 19th century too. Barracks are not a new invention at all, they're as old as the history of armies. There were two reasons they quartered troops in people's homes. Primarily it was for cost purposes. If you can make the people of the town feed your soldiers, it doesn't cost the military commander as much money. Second, it allowed for spying on and controlling the people.
9.4.2009 12:25am
CrimLawStudent:
After reading "The Limits of International Law", people should go ahead and read Professor Guzman's "How International Law Works".

Professor Posner, I look forward to reading your new book.
9.4.2009 2:16am
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9.4.2009 4:50am
MR:

"Law schools have always offered public international law courses, as they should. These courses have always been poorly attended, which is also how things should be."


Just on a factual level, this is not true. I know of a few PIL courses at top 20 law schools with waitlists/bumplists.
9.4.2009 8:53am
Randy R. (mail):
River: "a U.S. lawyer is hired to advise on U.S. law, and a client who, say, holds property abroad needs local counsel, not U.S. counsel"

This is true. And I am not saying that US lawyers need to know the law for every country in the world. And certainly, if your client wants to open an office in Germany, he needs to obtain local counsel.

Nonetheless, you WILL, in your practice, encounter businesses that conduct business around the world, or at least have business in at least one country. You should have a general knowledge of what it is like to set up partnerships with foreign companies. You will also need to review what local counsel is counseling from time to time to make sure it squares with any US law that might apply. There is a a whole body of law that covers what US citizens and companies can do abroad (not to mention tax issues!), and you need to be familiar with them enough to at least spot them.

If you client wants to partner with a foreign company or enter a JV with them, they will need your expertise, not just local counsel.
9.4.2009 9:40am
ASamtoy (www):
If anything, have 1Ls take tax or legislation. Both will affect almost everything else they do.
9.4.2009 10:52am
Kevin R (mail):
If it's necessary for the students to broader their education into fields that they will never, ever, deal with in real life, I'd like to volunteer my proposed seminar on Third Amendment Law. Rendered obsolete by the invention of barracks? That's what the skeptics would have you believe!


You may be interesting in joining the NAQA.
9.4.2009 11:00am
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Skyler:

David, they had barracks back in the 19th century too. Barracks are not a new invention at all, they're as old as the history of armies. There were two reasons they quartered troops in people's homes. Primarily it was for cost purposes. If you can make the people of the town feed your soldiers, it doesn't cost the military commander as much money. Second, it allowed for spying on and controlling the people.


Strangely enough the only case I know of that covers the scope of the third amendment was decided in 1982.....
9.4.2009 1:19pm
Xanthippas (mail) (www):

So asks Duncan Hollis. The answer is No! There is no reason to take international law in your first year. There is no reason to take international law in any year...

Agreed. I took it in my second year thanks to a vague interest in international law and a desire to avoid another class I was dropping, and while interesting, it has served no purpose. Of course the same could be said of several other courses I took in law school, but that's a different post...
9.4.2009 1:56pm
Guest14:
Gotta say, I run across treaty issues far more frequently than FRCP issues, rule against perpetuity issues, Constitutional isssues, criminal issues, and torts issues combined.
9.4.2009 2:34pm
Ricardo Arredondo (mail):
After reading some of the previous comments no wonder why so many in the USA do not understand what is happening around the world.

Besides, you do not *need* to take any course to be succesful in life. Just ask David Beckam.

God bless you all! (and help the rest of the world)
9.4.2009 6:54pm
Mike Kelly (mail) (www):
Good grief Eric! Why such a high level of vitriol leveled against I-Law in the 1st year? Do you not like teaching 1L's? It seems harmless enough if a school has gone to single semester offerings of property, torts and such... I'd also like to see some of these poor enrollment statistics you bandy about - I've got 30 kids in our small school out here on the Great Plains for the main class and our ten other Int'l &Comp. classes do quite well! Best, Mike
9.4.2009 11:59pm
ohwilleke:
As a business lawyer in private practice, I've had occasion to use my law school classes in comparative law for clients rather frequently, far more frequently, in fact, than either international choice of law or public international law (apart from the law of international tariffs and taxation).

Indeed, two of the first three cases in which I was lead counsel had comparative law issues (one was an international custody case, the other involved the authentication of real estate transactions conducted abroad with regard to U.S. property). I probably run into some comparative law issue every two or three months at least. One doesn't have to know the answer to all the questions, but one needs to know that there are questions that have to be answered, for example, regarding the rights of local business agents and distributors in a foreign country. Another very common issue is the distinction between civil law notaries and U.S. law notaries. A basic familiarity with foreign payment systems is also very helpful.

Even in my first year of law school, we studied the private international law question of the CISG, which somes up now and then in particular deals. The most useful public international law questions in my experience (outside of the customs and taxation field) have involved the question of whether a foreign entity with some governmental connection does or does not benefit from the doctrine of foreign sovereign immunity.
9.5.2009 12:01am
mikelivingston (mail) (www):
I don't agree at all. Comparative law is at least as useful to most law students as constitutional law which few if any practitioners see in their day-to-day practice. We are already teaching comparative law in most subjects by looking at results in states, or under model acts, that are different from our own. Bringing in foreign precedents is simply the logical next step. The patronizing view is that only US law really matters.
9.5.2009 10:09am
u of c grad:
And this is why I am glad I took Public International Law with Ginsburg.
9.8.2009 1:43pm
Joe S. (mail):
I'm a business law practitioner who is heavily enough involved with "international law" matters to regularly work with the State Dept. Here is my perspective.

I agree on Public IL: cosmic waste of time. If you actually work for State, it is useful. Otherwise, it is arcana, and not very interesting arcana at that.

I think that the post undersells Private IL and comparative law. If you are doing wholesale business law, you've got to know the basics of Private IL. Wholesale business law is generally cross-border. And you've got to become a semi-competent comparativist in your field of specialty.

But you don't have to learn this stuff in law school. Indeed, it might even be counterproductive. In deciding to hire rookie lawyers, I'm not impressed by an international law background. It shows an unhealthy attraction to glam.
9.9.2009 12:37pm
Richard Gordon (mail):
I would suggest that Judge Posner's categories are not sufficiently inclusive. Generally accepted international standards now apply in a number of areas, including international taxation, prudential supervision in banking, insurance, and securities, and money laundering and terrorism financing. While these standards do not constitute traditional public or private international law it is very important for practitioners in these areas to know what they are.
9.21.2009 5:26pm

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