Transnational Law Program - News

Washington University Law has started a Transnational Law Program, a first-of-its-kind offering for students in both the United States and Europe. This program expands upon the law school’s ongoing partnership with Utrecht University in the Netherlands.

Partner Universities meet at Utrecht University.

Beginning in fall 2008, the new four-year combined degree program will be offered in association with four prestigious European universities: Utrecht, Queen’s University Belfast, University of Trento (Italy), and Catholic University of Portugal.

The new Transnational Law Program allows United States students to study at both Washington University Law and Utrecht University. Initially, these students will spend five semesters acquiring a solid foundation in United States law with an emphasis on international and transnational law from an American perspective. They will then undertake three semesters of study in Utrecht, acquiring an appreciation for European law and enhancing their understanding of international and transnational law. Faculty and students from the other three European partners will contribute to the strength of the program.

Upon completion, the United States graduates will earn a J.D. from Washington University and an LL.M. from Utrecht School of Law. European participants will pursue a complementary course of study; after earning their degree from Utrecht, they will enter the LL.M. Program at Washington University.

“There is a growing need for lawyers who understand both American and European law, can identify legal issues and know reliable sources in the U.S. and throughout Europe,” says Kent D. Syverud, J.D., law dean and the Ethan A.H. Shepley University Professor.

“Many American law schools are expanding their international curricula study-abroad programs. Washington University Law and Utrecht University are now taking international legal education to the next level.”

  • Unlike traditional international dual degree programs, Washington University’s transnational law program will be the first to offer:
     a targeted, integrated curriculum developed with partner institutions;
  • internships with U.S. and European corporations, law firms, courts, enforcement and administrative  agencies, and non-governmental organizations;
  • ongoing faculty exchanges among the participating schools; and
  • related courses co-taught by partner and Washington University faculty.
Roundtable discussion, Feb. 26, 2008.

On Feb. 26, leaders from each of the partner universities gathered to officially launch the program and participate in a roundtable discussion on transnational law.  The event, was held from noon to 1 p.m. in the Bryan Cave Moot Courtroom of Anheuser-Busch Hall, is open to the public and eligible for 1 Missouri Continuing Legal Education credit. This event was free and open to the public.

The Transnational Law Program prepares students to enter and ultimately assume leadership in the expanding areas of international and transnational law, says Michael Peil, assistant dean for international programs and executive director of the Whitney R. Harris World Law Institute at Washington University School of Law.

“We are excited to offer this unique new program that will benefit both our students and faculty, and students and faculty at our partner schools,” Peil says. “The integrated aspect of the curriculum makes it unlike any other offering at our peer institutions. Both our American and European graduates will be prepared for rewarding professional lives in an increasingly globalized world.”

Utrecht University

Dorsey D. Ellis, Jr., the William R. Orthwein Distinguished Professor of Law at Washington University in St. Louis and chair of the program’s faculty advisory committee, notes: “While program graduates will receive degrees in both Europe and the United States, their education will be more than the sum of these two systems. The Transnational Law Program’s focus reflects the new reality of a legal environment that transcends national boundaries. Financial and commercial transactions, for example, cross borders every minute of every day; environmental impacts know no national borders, and family law cases as well as criminal prosecutions more often have transnational dimensions. Firms, businesses, government agencies, and non-government organizations increasingly need lawyers trained in transnational systems.”

Charles Burson, retired executive vice president and general counsel at Monsanto Company and a member of the law school’s National Council, observes that the program helps train law students for the demands of international business.

“This bold program provides law students a platform from which to launch into the new reality of our global market. Participation in the program will open up new and exciting opportunities for students, to the benefit of their future employers and clients,” says Burson, who is of counsel at Bryan Cave LLP in St. Louis and is serving as a visiting professor at the law school.

Similarly, Thomas Lowther, National Council member and partner at the Stolar Partnership in St. Louis, notes: “In today's shrinking world, any lawyer with a commercial practice will sooner or later encounter an international transaction.  The power of this program is that it exposes students to legal systems that differ from ours, making them more alert to legal issues in cross-border transactions.”
Adriaan Dorresteijn, dean of the department of law, economics and governance at Utrecht University, notes that the new Transnational Law Program is a natural fit: “This unique program builds upon our very successful partnership with Washington University School of Law, including the Summer Institute for Global Justice and other faculty and student exchanges. The new degree program addresses an obvious need for students and faculty at both universities.”

Leila Nadya Sadat, J.D., the Henry H. Oberschelp Professor of Law and director of the Harris Institute, launched the highly popular summer program in Utrecht in 2005. Focusing on international justice, this program draws distinguished faculty and students from around the world.

Previous Schedule of Activities

Thursday, 2008 February 21
12:00 - 1:00 p.m. - Jordan Foundation Classroom (AB Hall - 204)
All first-year students are invited to attend an informational session on the law school’s exciting new international initiative, the Transnational Law Program (TLP) on Thursday, February 21 from noon to 1 p.m. in Room 204. This orientation, presented by Professor Ellis and Deans Peil and Bolin, will give 1Ls information about this new U.S. / European combined degree program. The TLP is a cooperative initiative among WU Law, Utrecht University in The Netherlands, Catholic University of Portugal, Queens University Belfast, and University of Trento in Italy. [more]

Monday, 2008 February 25
3:00 - 4:30 p.m. - Griffin Student Commons (AB Hall - 3rd floor)
All first-year students are invited to attend a reception meeting the delegates for an exciting new international initiative, the Transnational Law Program (TLP) on Monday, February 25 from 3 to 4:30 p.m. in the Griffin Student Commons. This new U.S./European combined degree program is a cooperative initiative among WU Law, Utrecht University in The Netherlands, Catholic University of Portugal, Queens University Belfast, and University of Trento in Italy. 

Tuesday, 2008 February 26
The Globalization of Law and the Future of Legal Education Roundtable
[view video of event]
12:00 - 1:00 p.m. - Bryan Cave Moot Courtroom (AB Hall - 310)
This event was free and open to the Public.  1 MCLE credit was given. [more]

Spring 2008