Teaching Across traditions: the Multi-legal cultural classroom

Teachers face special challenges when students come from multiple legal cultures. Issues include teaching lawyers educated in a civil law system about common law analysis, teaching lawyers from national judicial systems about federalism and state/federal court systems, teaching legal culture (e.g., regarding negotiation, ethics, enforcement of law), heightened sensitivity to different uses of vocabulary, and conveying the expectations of professors regarding assessment of performance. The presentation will focus on the issue of building understanding between students from civil law and common law systems. The presenter will feature contexts in which the differences surface in classes with students of both backgrounds. She will also discuss strategies teachers use to build understanding. These include orientation, small group assignments, internet resources, role plays, writing assignments and a website discussion forum. It will also pose questions to invite further discussion of these pedagogical challenges. This presentation will draw from intercultural issues experienced in a law school classroom in a course on Introduction to the Law of the United States taught as part of the Master of Laws program in the Law of the United States for foreign-trained lawyers at the University of Baltimore School of Law.