ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Students at Michigan Law will help shape international deals from microfranchises to multinationals as part of a new International Transactions Clinic being established at the Law School this fall.
The new clinic will be taught by Prof. Michael S. Barr, who also teaches international finance and financial institution regulation; Business Law Faculty Fellow and longtime international transactional lawyer Timothy L. Dickinson (a 1979 Michigan law graduate); and Deborah Burand, whom Dean Evan Caminker recently wooed to Michigan Law, and who brings nearly 25 years’ experience in cross-border transactions and microfinance to the Law School, most recently from the Grameen Foundation.
As part of an international course of study, the clinic will play to one of the great strengths of the Law School, which pioneered a requirement that students take a course in Transnational Law before graduating. The ITC also recognizes the increasingly important role of globalization both in domestic and international legal practice.
Like other clinics, the ITC will provide real-world experience for students working on real cases for real clients, under the supervision of their professors. ITC clients might include microfinance providers working in the developing world, socially responsible investors, or others interested in investing in businesses operating at the base of the economic pyramid.
“This new clinic is a welcome addition that will bring high quality legal expertise to bear on the legal needs of microfinance organizations,” said Elizabeth L. Littlefield, CEO of the World Bank’s CGAP, the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor. “CGAP looks forward to partnering with the Clinic in the years ahead.”
The clinic also plans to match micro with macro, because ITC clients are expected to include multinational corporations and small- and medium-sized entrepreneurs seeking help with increasingly large – and increasingly complex – cross-border transactions. As the business world shrinks and becomes simultaneously more interdependent, the demand for top-notch business lawyers will continue to grow. Michigan Law’s ITC will be a training ground for highly qualified international lawyers who graduate already experienced at representing their clients’ interests in a world where national frontiers are increasingly irrelevant – except in the context of the law.
The trailblazing new clinic, which students will be encouraged to attend for two terms, has already drawn the interest of groups fighting poverty in the developing world. It also will keep the Law School among institutions leading the way in the global economy, said Law School Dean Evan Caminker.
“This is an exciting opportunity to involve a new generation of bright legal minds in cross-border transactions that will train our students for a lifetime of international business dealings, and that can also make an enormous difference in the lives of people in the developing world," Caminker said. “We’re fortunate to have three acknowledged leaders like Michael Barr, Tim Dickinson and Deb Burand to guide students down this important and promising avenue of legal practice.”