Comparative Legal Studies

Current developments in comparative law reflect the significant changes that have occurred in the international community during the past 50 years.

Comparative law addresses both the needs of lawyers to gain a better knowledge of foreign legal systems and the attempts of states to develop adequate legislation to meet the requirements of the international market economy, as well as the changing political world order. Thus, comparative law plays a significant role in the harmonization and unification of the law in modern societies.

In addition to these practical functions, comparative law has become a valuable tool for legal analysis of national legal systems, stimulating awareness of the cultural and social character of the law in any given country. Comparative law provides a unique understanding of the way law develops and works in different cultures. The innovative methodology used in comparative legal studies places it at the forefront of interdisciplinary legal scholarship by combining several scholarly disciplines such as history, sociology and anthropology with legal analysis and jurisprudence.

The mission of Berkeley Law's Comparative Legal Studies Program reflects both practical and theoretical perspectives. Students gain practical knowledge of foreign legal systems and their different rules, and are also introduced to a broader theoretical understanding of legal norms. Students learn to comprehend and contrast legal concepts and rules from diverse legal systems, while taking into account the circumstances that govern the creation and implementation of a particular rule in any given society. The program's goal is not only to provide students with a knowledge of foreign law but also to give them a better awareness of current legal diversity through analysis and discussion of the origins and various characteristics of different legal cultures.

Comparative law is a well-established intellectual tradition at Berkeley Law, as reflected by the number of professors who do research and teach in this field. The law school's international reputation attracts numerous legal scholars from around the globe. Berkeley Law's renowned library holds one of the most comprehensive collections of foreign law materials in the world. In addition, the law school's research centers share a common interest in comparative legal studies, and Berkeley Law hosts the American Journal of Comparative Law, whose editor in chief is a member of the faculty.

Students may select from a wide variety of classes taught in the comparative law field by Berkeley Law faculty members as well as distinguished visiting professors.