What's nice about Michigan is that our devotion to international and comparative law is decades old. Michigan had an international law professor before almost any other law school in the U.S. had a full-time faculty member. We had a comparative law professor at a time when that was regarded as unnecessary. And we were the place where European Union law studies got started in the 1950s with Prof. Eric Stein.
– Steven Ratner, Bruno Simma Collegiate Professor of Law
Internationalism and Curriculum
Michigan Law offers our students one of the most complete sets of course offerings in international, comparative, and foreign law of any law faculty in the world. Students may choose from a wide array of courses from our full-time faculty, William W. Cook Global Law Faculty, and distinguished visitors. These courses form the foundation for the many other activities and programs that the Law School organizes. This description discusses some of the courses offered over the last five years; new courses are constantly being added based on faculty and student interest. Our offerings include courses, seminars, clinics, and workshops.
In addition, Michigan Law encourages interested students to pursue dual degrees in law and other areas of study, and provides significant opportunities for doing so. To make the dual degree option even more realistic, the Law School is located at the heart of the University campus, with the schools of Business, Social Work, Education, Public Policy, and Information located within one block, and others within easy walking distance. Michigan offers 14 dual degrees, and allows students to design their own. Internationally focused dual degrees include Law and Chinese Studies, Law and Japanese Studies, Law and Modern Middle Eastern & North African Studies, Law and Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies, and Law and World Politics. Visit our dual degrees page for more information.
Getting Started: The Transnational Law Requirement
In today's world, it is essential that every lawyer understand the making and application of law beyond the domestic (American) orbit. Even though most graduates will practice law in the United States, virtually every area of law is affected by international aspects, whether through treaties regulating transnational economic relations, interactions with foreign law, or oversight by international organizations. Each area of the curriculum, from antitrust to intellectual property to civil rights to tax, is enmeshed within a complex web of international and foreign rules that the lawyer must understand.
As a result of this contemporary reality, Michigan Law was the first law school in the United States to require all students to take Transnational Law, an introductory course on the international dimensions of law. Because the field of law outside U.S. domestic law is vast—public and private, international and foreign—our course seeks to provide students with basic concepts and tools for understanding, taking further courses in, and practicing more specialized areas of law. The specific coverage varies somewhat across faculty, but all Transnational Law classes cover the state system, the making of international law, international organizations, modalities of resolving transnational disputes, the role of corporations and NGOs in the transnational system, the incorporation of international law into the U.S. and other domestic legal systems, the jurisdiction of states to make and apply law, and selected topics of current concern, e.g., human rights and the use of armed force.
Our students may take Transnational Law at any time before they graduate. Those considering more specialized courses in international, comparative, or foreign law, however, are urged to take the course early in their studies. Completion of the course greatly enhances the educational experience in most of these advanced courses. Indeed, in many cases of advanced international law courses and seminars, prior completion of Transnational Law is strongly recommended or required.
A complete listing of subject areas and courses offered at the Law School may be found on the Curriculum Interest Areas page.