I feel compelled to write to express both warmth and concern about certain portions of the Winter 2008 Harvard Law Bulletin.
First, I want to second the warm comments about Professor Clark Byse (see story). I never had him in class, but I found him warm and encouraging when I was a 40-year-old searching how to come into law teaching.
Second, as someone who worked in international commercial arbitration for 14 years, I applaud the school for bringing more international and comparative law courses into the first year (see story). Back in the early ’80s, questions about international or comparative approaches to similar problems (How did Japanese law deal with sparks coming off trains?) were met with blank stares. Thanks for helping students become aware earlier of the world. My only quibble is that I hope that the international law classes are truly international law—not U.S. foreign relations law. Coming from the traditions of Professors Detlev Vagts and C. Clyde Ferguson, I am worried that the content of these courses might do more damage than the profound current ignorance of the subject if students “think” they are learning international law when in fact they are just learning a portion of U.S. constitutional law with regard to U.S. foreign relations. I hope that the comparative courses draw from European, Latin American, African and Asian traditions. For example, one of the marvelous things I learned in international commercial arbitration was that the Libyan Civil Code was largely drawn from the Egyptian Civil Code, which itself drew on the French Civil Code. Knowing such history helps the students represent their clients in difficult cases.