International Students Explore U.S. Legal System

Some 18 international undergraduate students are immersing themselves in the intricacies of the United States legal system and tackling Constitutional Law issues, such as those related to religious freedom, in the law school's new two-week Summer Institute.

Lecturer Leigh Greenhaw, second from left, discusses religious freedom issues with international Summer Institute students.
Lecturer Leigh Greenhaw, second from left, discusses religious freedom issues with
international Summer Institute students. Photo by Mary Butkus

The undergraduate law students represent several countries, including Angola, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Iceland, India, Latvia, Nigeria, Portugal, the United Kingdom, and Venezuela. The students are exploring the basic structure and processes of the United States legal system, as well as the ways in which it is distinctive from the legal systems of their home countries.

The institute is designed to offer the students a snapshot of Washington University Law and its popular year-long master's in law (LL.M.) program for foreign lawyers, who have earned their bachelor's of law in their home countries.

As part of the summer program, the students will assume the role of a United States lawyer resolving hypothetical problems. In the final session next week, they will argue one side of a hypothetical case, employing both “legal English” and their newly acquired knowledge of United States law. Outside of class, they are spending a weekend in Chicago and enjoying St. Louis events, such as the Jazz Festival at the Missouri Botanical Garden. 

Leigh Greenhaw, senior lecturer in law, and Michael Koby, senior lecturer in law and director of the Trial & Advocacy Program, are serving as the institute's faculty.