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legal education; Legal education at McGill University; Trans-systemic


One of the major challenges legal education faces nowadays is that jurisdictional boundaries are losing significance in an internationalized, globalized and post-regulatory environment. This calls into question the very notion of “law” itself, at least as traditionally understood as a system of posited norms within a given jurisdiction, and the classic model of legal education based on such an understanding of law. While North American legal education has a longstanding tradition of self-reflection, the situation in Europe is different: there is little incentive for legal scholars to devote a considerable amount of time to a serious scholarly treatment of the issue of legal education. Whereas the challenge of internationalization, particularly in its emanation of “Europeanization,” has literally become omnipresent in legal discourse, legal education is still dominated by a traditionalist view of its primary goal: an almost exclusive focus on training lawyers (or judges) for the practice within the boundaries of a national jurisdiction. As a contribution to the debate on the challenges posed to the teaching of law we would like to offer the following brief analysis of the efforts made at the Faculty of Law of McGill University, situated in Québec, Canada to develop a new approach to the teaching of law. Ten years ago, in 1998, the Faculty undertook the effort to offer an integrated comparative three year curriculum, known as the McGill Programme, that teaches even first year introductory courses, such as Contracts and Torts, from a comparative perspective. The ultimate aspiration of this programme, however, is to transcend the fixation on the study of law as the study of “legal systems” - hence the label “trans-systemic” legal education.