Legal Research: International, Foreign, and Comparative

Legal Research: International, Foreign, and Comparative

Ms. Virginia Wise
Spring 2014 course
W, Th 8:10am - 9:40am in WCC Room 5044
3 classroom credits

This course will provide an overview of research in international, foreign, and comparative law. As legal practice becomes more global, Harvard-educated lawyers need to be able to conduct research worldwide. The course should be especially valuable to students expecting to fill their third-year paper requirement on an international, foreign, or comparative law topic, journal editors editing and working on foreign and international materials, students planning to work in U.S. firms, government agencies, or NGOs with foreign or international concerns, or to work abroad.

Emphasis will be placed on the use of Internet, and online sources such as Lexis and Westlaw, although the use of print materials will also be covered. Approximately half the course will explore formal international law by examining treaty research, both U.S. and non-U.S., and use of sources, such as the international law digests, Restatement on Foreign Relations, and United Nations documents. The European Union will serve as a model for doing research using regional organizations legal materials. Although it will obviously not be possible to cover all non-U.S. jurisdictions, the foreign law component of the course will use one non-U.S. common law jurisdiction and one civil law jurisdiction as paradigms of the structure of legal information in those systems. Students should be able to find legal materials, including books and periodicals, in English and foreign languages at Harvard and elsewhere around the world, upon completion of this course.

The course meets twice a week, one day in a lecture setting and one day in the computer lab. Students taking the course for three credits will be required to complete a series of eight legal research assignments requiring the use of print and online sources, take two quizzes announced in advance, and complete one short (10-15 pages) paper. There is no final examination in this course. As with any study of international, foreign, or comparative law, some knowledge of a language other than English is useful, but not required for the course. Legal Research: Advanced is not a prerequisite for this course.

Students may elect to write a long paper for one hour extra credit in this course. Students electing this option will be expected to complete an extensive (40-60 page) research guide in a given subject area chosen by the student. This guide is intended to apply and synthesize the practical knowledge gained during the course.

Course materials will consist of photocopied materials prepared by the instructor and publishers explanatory handouts.

Prerequisite: For LLM students only, they must have taken Introduction to American and International Legal Research or have permission of the instructor.

Subject Areas: Procedure & Practice, International, Comparative & Foreign Law