Lawyering Across Borders

Scott Schwind, a graduate of the University of Texas Law School, recently joined the law firm of Jones Day in Houston, Texas.  The firm plans to practice internationally, particularly in Latin America and Africa, which drew the interests of Schwind.  Schwind had a unique opportunity to study during his second year of law school in Brazil at a local university and gained experience as an unpaid intern at a local law firm and later became fluent in Portuguese, Spanish, and French.  Clearly, this man is qualified to practice in Brazil, and certain Portuguese speaking countries in Africa (oil transactions involving Portuguese speaking entities are his specialty) while still maintaining a good deal of work in Houston.  Upon learning about the unique qualifications of Schwind as well as his passion for working across borders, two questions came to mind.  Should US law schools expand their horizons more aggressively for students interested in such International Practices?  And second, should certain regulations be imposed universally on such lawyers, or should the jurisdictional rules apply.

It’s clear that the jurisdictional implications are a very sensitive issue due to differences in governmental and legal structures in various nations, but with the  increasing volume of international interactions (business and otherwise), there is a potential for consensus to lead to greater ease in such interactions.  Predictability of outcomes has always been a factor businesses rely upon in planning transactions and uniformity could aide international commerce moving forward.  Of course, many business firms enter into private agreements with the parties to a transaction setting forth the rules of law and jurisdictions to be used in particular situations.  Generally, however, these agreements deal with disputes arising out of the relationship, and do not have implications on the initial dealings of the parties.  Should nations work together to form a consensus that provides greater predictability than the current international documents?

For more on Scott Schwind click here.

One comment

  1. I think that for certain practice areas, it makes a lot of sense to encourage, or even require, courses which focus on international law. This is particularly relevant for students who express an interest in business, commercial, and criminal law (to name a few). Unless you live in North Korea, it seems nearly impossible to envision a life in which you are totally isolated from the tangled web of international trade and commerce. With that in mind, why not place a greater emphasis on international law?

    As far as jurisdiction is concerned, I think that is an uphill battle that is not likely to be won anytime soon. The value of individuals in Portugal may be completely different from those in Argentina, which is totally different than the values of individuals in the United States, Germany, France, etc. Our laws reflect our values and what we believe to be in the best interest of the general public. I’m not so sure that we’d be able to find an area of common interest with so many diverse cultures; asserting one common jurisdiction seems as if it would be very difficult to achieve.

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