LAW-2159 Comparative Law and Culture

Prof. Stephen C. Hicks,

2 credits day; 2 credits evening.


This seminar will introduce students to substantive comparative law, different legal systems in general, and legal culture as a whole, exploring the world’s most important legal traditions against a historical background, and within the context of current social and political concerns.

The premise of the class is that all lawyers will need a basic understanding of how different our U.S. legal system is from other countries’ systems and cultures, and how important that is for global understanding and the practice of law in the 21st c. The theoretical framework for the course is the relationship among law, politics, religion, and ethics, considered in different legal systems, traditions, and cultures throughout history up to the present. The course covers the evolution of civil law and common law, the Islamic, Hindu, Asian, and Talmudic legal traditions and cultures, and tribal or indigenous law, and their future convergence, assimilation, or replacement by supra-national law, as exemplified by the E.U., for example.

Specific topics to be covered include the origins of law; custom, and alternative dispute resolution; codification; globalization and westernization; judicial review; the rule of law; and professional roles and legal education, as well key aspects of particular legal systems, and their substantive differences from U.S. law.

Readings will be assigned weekly. H. Patrick Glenn, “Legal Traditions of the World,” (4th ed. Oxford, 2010) is the recommended but not required text. There is no exam. Grades will be determined on class participation and a final paper. Individual or group presentations are encouraged. Leading the class on a topic of interest is also encouraged. The final paper may satisfy the Writing Requirement.


pointer    Enrollment is limited: 20 

pointer    Elective Course

pointer    On List of Recommended Perspectives Courses

pointer    Meets International Law Concentration Requirements

pointer    May Fulfill Legal Writing Requirement

JIM  Final Paper Required


<<Course Updated: March 11, 2016>>