It is an exciting time to study law here. The practice of law and particularly the practice of law in Florida have become international activities. As lawyers, our clients are now from all over the world and being in Miami puts us at the crossroads of North America, Latin America, the Caribbean, and the Gulf of Mexico. Miami has important ties to Europe, Asia, and Africa as well. Florida International University has a long tradition of providing education tailored to global learning and citizenship and the College of Law shares this goal. While providing a complete traditional legal education, the College places international and comparative law near the center of its course of study.
The College emphasizes international and comparative law in many ways. First, the College’s J.D. curriculum includes the course Introduction to International and Comparative Law for all first-year students. This course introduces students to aspects of public international law, such as treaties and international courts, and to comparative law, such as the legal systems of France and Latin America. Second, all courses not specifically dealing with international or comparative law devote several hours of classroom instruction to these broader aspects. This second part of the College’s course of study is called the “pervasive approach” to international and comparative law. Third, the College provides a rich array of upper level classes and seminars in international and comparative law. Both the first-year introductory course and the pervasive approach are unusual additions to the traditional course of study and we are proud to embrace these innovative components at our College.
Students undertake a number of additional and extracurricular activities related to international and comparative law. The College’s Carlos A. Costa Immigration and Human Rights Clinic provides clinical opportunities for upper-level students dealing with issues of asylum and immigration policy. Students interested in international law often join the International Law Students Association and the International Arbitration Society. The College supports teams to various international moot court and arbitration competitions such as the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition and the Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot. The Office of International and Graduate Studies continues to seek internships and externships for our students in the area of international law.
The Office of International and Graduate Studies offers many other opportunities for students and faculty. These include joint degree programs, semester abroad programs, student exchange programs, visiting researcher and professor opportunities, summer study abroad programs, and numerous events and activities for students, faculty, and members of the bar. The Office is also responsible for planning the College’s graduate degrees including an advanced-standing J.D. for foreign lawyers (JDAS) and the LL.M. in addition to keeping abreast of other graduate opportunities for the College’s students.
The Office includes the Global Legal Studies Initiative (GLSI) under the guidance of Professor Manuel Gómez. The GLSI seeks to strengthen the College’s domestic and international presence by reaching out to the private and public sectors as it helps the global legal community examine issues of critical importance. The GLSI focuses on the following themes: international litigation and arbitration, rule of law and governance, legal education, and the relationship between law and other disciplines in an international and comparative context. For example, under the theme of international litigation and arbitration, the GLSI runs the Annual International Arbitration Summit.
Many members of the College’s permanent and visiting faculty have expertise in these fields as either practitioners or scholars. The College’s Dean R. Alexander Acosta has worked in international fields as varied as criminal torture and the unlawful trafficking of persons. Michele Anglade advises on Haitian law and works with the Haitian legal community. Thomas Baker has recently written on teaching comparative constitutional law. Cyra Choudhury examines gender and family law in Islamic societies in her writings. Juan Javier del Granado has led an effort to draft a code for Latin America based on the principles of law and economics. Professor Jorge Esquirol writes about Latin American law. Megan Fairlie is an expert on international criminal procedure. Elizabeth Foley has just been awarded a Fulbright Visiting Scholar Award to teach and to do research in Ireland. José Gabilondo’s scholarship has addressed sovereign wealth funds and Cuba. Manuel Goméz is known for his work on international arbitration and law and society. Peggy Maisel is the coauthor of a book on the South African legal system. Lillian Miranda writes about indigenous populations throughout the world and their role as makers of international law. Charles Pouncy has written on the international aspects of economic development. Ediberto Román is known for his works on citizenship theory, immigration policy, and the status of United States territories. John Stack has recently coauthored books on globalization, courts crossing borders, and United States foreign policy. Hannibal Travis writes on two international areas, intellectual property and genocide. Victor Uribe is an expert in the legal reforms in Colombia and the history of the Colombian legal profession. Noah Weisbord has worked in numerous international positions and is an expert on the crime of aggression and the law of Rwanda. There are more examples and this excessive list just scratches the surface. The College has an international faculty with deep interests in teaching and writing about international and comparative topics.
The College’s library has significant holdings in international and comparative law recently enhanced by a donation of books on Latin America by the Center for the Administration of Justice and by a donation of Cuban and European books from the Rainforth Foundation’s Mario Díaz Cruz Library. The College’s library is an active participant in the Digital Library of the Caribbean. Dr. Marisol Floren-Romero serves as the collection’s Foreign and International Law Librarian.
Please feel free to contact me or anyone at the Office of International and Graduate Studies with your questions. We hope to provide information, to work with others here at the College and elsewhere, to assist foreign visitors and law students at the College, and to improve the College’s academic community. International law, comparative law, and graduate legal education are important at the College of Law. We look forward to sharing our work and activities with you.
Matthew C. Mirow, J.D., Ph.D., Ph.D.
Associate Dean of International and Graduate Studies
Professor of Law