Harvard Law School and Sciences Po Law School (SPLS) have launched a wide-ranging program that includes exchanges of faculty and students, both pre-doctoral and post-doctoral, and co-sponsorship of joint conferences on U.S. and European legal issues.

Sciences Po was established in 1872 and is France’s leading university for social sciences. In 2009, SPLS was created in order to train lawyers with an emphasis on critical thinking and creativity, as well as to equip them to play leadership roles in the worlds of both law and business.

On June 13, Harvard and SPLS will co-sponsor the first major event of the new partnership, a one-day conference entitled “Franco-American Legal Influence, Then and Now,” The conference, which will take place at Harvard, will explore historical and contemporary moments of intellectual influence and reception between French and U.S. legal thought. The conference will feature HLS Professors Janet Halley, David Kennedy, Duncan Kennedy, Jeannie Suk and Mark Tushnet; Harvard University Professor Homi K. Bhabha, Director of the Mahindra Humanities Center at Harvard; and SPLS Professors Louis Assier-Andrieu, Frédéric Audren, Christophe Jamin and Mikhail Xifaras.

Under the new partnership, faculty from each school may participate in short-term exchanges for up to two weeks, giving lectures, discussing topics of common interest with contemporaries, or conducting research. Longer-term faculty exchanges will also be considered, in the hopes of fostering collaborative teaching, research, conferences and mentoring relationships.

“We are very pleased to create this opportunity for our students and faculty to share intellectual projects and educational experiences with counterparts across the Atlantic,” said Professor Jeannie Suk, HLS faculty liaison for the exchange program. “We are aware of the importance of such sustained and substantive conversations in a globalized setting for legal scholarship and education.”

The program grows from existing ties between the two institutions. HLS Professors Scott Brewer and David Kennedy have taught at SPLS previously, and Professors Morton Horwitz, Duncan Kennedy, Janet Halley and Jeannie Suk have recently lectured there. SPLS is also a co-sponsor of the doctoral workshop of the Institute for Global Law and Policy at Harvard.

Numerous HLS professors are taking advantage of the new partnership. This May, Professors Yochai Benkler and George Triantis visited SPLS for a one-week program. Professors William Alford, Charles Fried, Mark Roe and Carol Steiker, among others, also plan to participate in the HLS-SPLS partnership.

“For us at SPLS, this exchange presents an opportunity for challenging encounters between different legal cultures and traditions of thought,” said Mikhail Xifaras, Professor of Public Law at SPLS, who will teach at HLS next spring. “This is already creating fascinating moments of discovery, new understandings, and spaces for original ideas.”

The student exchange program allows HLS and SPLS pre-doctoral students to spend a semester studying law at the other institution, and doctoral students may spend up to one year abroad. An HLS SJD candidate and a SPLS doctoral candidate were the first to take part in the exchange this past year. This fall, four HLS Class of 2012 students will spend a semester at SPLS, studying international financial regulation, international business law, comparative and international law, international arbitration, and international and European law. Several SPLS students also will visit HLS in 2013.