By Rey Panaligan
Supreme Court (SC) Senior Associate Justice Antonio T. Carpio on Wednesday urged the country’s law schools to strengthen their international law courses to prepare their students for the ongoing integration of legal education worldwide.
“Legal education is now starting to be globalized,” Carpio said in his remarks delivered during the first of the two-day Legal Education Summit (LES) at the Manila Hotel.
The summit, spearheaded by the SC in collaboration with various legal education stakeholders in the country, is aimed at determining the problems encountered in legal education and formulating solutions to address them.
Chief Justice Lucas P. Bersamin earlier said the LES will focus on “updating the basic law curriculum for purposes of admission to the bar and adopting the best practices to develop students to become practice-ready lawyers.”
The theme of the two-day summit is “Shifting Paradigm: Remodeling Legal Education in the Philippines.”
In his remarks, Carpio cited four aspects on the globalization of legal education.
He said that “law courses in different countries are undergoing rapid harmonization, in varying degrees, in private international law, public international law, trade and investment law, intellectual property law, international humanitarian law, international arbitration law, among many others.”
He pointed out that “law professors are teaching law in different countries” while “law students are cross-enrolling in different countries or are even taking their JD (juris doctor degree or doctor of jurisprudence degree) or LLB (bachelor of laws degree) in other countries.”
At the same time, he said that “law schools of different countries are offering joint law programs, either in JD, master’s or doctoral degree.”
He cited several factors that drive the globalization of legal education.
“The economies of countries are being integrated into a global economy. This has been brought about by the creation of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the formation of regional trade groupings… and many other regional trading blocs…” and these require “uniform trade and investment laws and rules,” Carpio said.
“Lawyers must apply these laws and rules, and law schools must of course teach these laws and rules,” he stressed.
The adoption of treaties and conventions has globalized law, he said.
Citing an example, Carpio said that countries that acceded to the World Trade Organization “had to amend their domestic laws to conform to the WTO.”
In the same manner, countries that ratified the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) had to amend their baseline laws to conform to UNCLOS, he stressed.
The Philippines, he said “has ratified 2,400 treaties and conventions, and Philippine domestic statutory laws must conform to these treaties and conventions.”
“All countries that have signed the same treaties and conventions go through the same process, resulting in the harmonization of laws on a globalized scale. Law schools must of course teach many of these treaties and conventions,” he said.
The other factors on globalized legal education cited by Carpio were:
1. “Information communication technology has made law course materials in one country easily available in other countries. This includes legal lectures in YouTube that are freely available to everyone world-wide. This also includes digital law books and law journals that are available for purchase or free download through the internet.
These legal materials are used by law professors and law students alike world-wide.
2. “The ease of travel world-wide has allowed law professors to teach law in different countries. For example, the new Master of Laws program of the UP College of Law that opens this month will feature law professors from the US and UK teaching in the UP BGC Campus in Taguig City.
3. “Law firms are now globalized, employing lawyers from different countries. Law firms in Singapore and Hong Kong employ Filipinos who took up law in the Philippines or in other countries. Law schools must strengthen their international law programs to prepare their students for the global legal market.
4. “Courts are deciding more cases involving international law.”
Carpio said Philippine law schools can cope up with the challenge of globalized legal education by strengthening their international law courses using local professors, engaging foreign law professors for two-week courses like what UP has adopted but only for its master of laws program, entering into a joint degree program for a foreign law school, and engaging foreign law professor and admitting foreign law students to make the school truly international.
“Law schools in the Philippines cannot escape the globalization of legal education. It is happening and will continue to intensify. At the very least I hope that every law school in this country will strengthen its international law courses using local professors.”