The study of international and comparative law on the Berkeley campus has a long and distinguished history. It began in 1882, almost 30 years before the official founding of Berkeley Law.
In that year, Professor William Carey Jones offered a course in Roman law through the university's history and political science department. The course proved so successful that by 1894 Jones persuaded the university to establish on campus a separate department of jurisprudence. This new department offered seven courses, four of them international or comparative in scope: Principles of International Law, History of International Law, Studies in Comparative Law, and the original Roman Law course. In 1898, the course list was expanded, with two additional international and comparative offerings: Roman Law of Contracts and History of Modern European Codification.
In 1911, Berkeley Law (originally known as Boalt Hall) was founded as a separate institution, dedicated to offering comprehensive legal instruction "whether historical, theoretical or practical, in the whole orbit of the law, international, public and private."
During the ensuing years, Berkeley Law lived up to this promise. One of the school's earliest deans, Edwin Dickinson, wrote the first casebook on international law. From the 1930s onward, Dickinson established himself as a leading authority on public international law, shaping many of the important issues of the day.
Many other leading scholars of international and comparative law graced the halls of Berkeley Law during the early decades. Max Radin, a remarkable legal theorist, taught for 30 years on a vast array of subjects, making notable contributions to the fields of Roman and comparative law. Professor Hans Kelsen also made lasting impressions on the Berkeley Law faculty during his many years in UC Berkeley's political science department.
With the San Francisco conference of 1945 to found the United Nations, there was new impetus in the fields of international and comparative law. In the post-World War II period, Covey Oliver and Frank Newman joined the faculty, the former later becoming ambassador to Colombia and assistant secretary of state for Inter-American Affairs, the latter ultimately becoming dean and an internationally renowned scholar and activist in human rights.
Albert Ehrenzweig, one of the world's leading authorities on private international law and comparative law, was appointed in 1947. Stefan Riesenfeld, an expert in both comparative and international law, joined him on the faculty in 1952. In the words of Professor Richard Jennings, "It was like having Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig or Hank Aaron and Willie Mays batting on your side, back-to-back." Berkeley Law was quickly developing a reputation as a center for international legal studies, attracting the best legal minds from all over the world.
From the mid-1950s on, additional faculty appointments brought other special talents in international and comparative law, including Professors Sho Sato (1955), Richard Buxbaum (1961), John Fleming (1962), David Daube (1970), Friedrich Kessler (1970), and Stephan Kuttner (1970).
By the mid-1960s the growing American involvement in Vietnam turned faculty and student interest toward issues of war and peace, international human rights, and Third World economic development and modernization. Professor Frank Newman, until then best known for his work in administrative law, turned vigorously toward these areas. At that time, the school also recruited Professor John Wilkins, earlier general counsel for the U.S. Agency for International Development, and the first African-American member of the faculty, to enrich the program in public international law with the dimension of law and economic development. His untimely death deprived us of a warm friend and an important collaborator in this area.
In 1978 Professor James Gordley was hired. An expert in comparative law, he helped continue Berkeley Law's role in the field following the death of Professor Ehrenzweig in 1974. Berkeley Law's work in comparative law has been further enriched by a large number of visiting professors, and most recently by the appointment of Professor Laurent Mayali, a comparative law scholar and the director of the Robbins Collection following the retirement of Professor Kuttner, its former director.
As Berkeley Law moved into the 1980s, it developed new emphases in international environmental and resource management law, and in international dispute resolution. Professor Harry Scheiber, a historian, brought his interest in international resource management, and was followed by Professor David Caron, whose international work also encompasses the environment and dispute resolution. Professor Caron's reputation in international dispute resolution was recognized by his appointment to the U.N. commission on compensation claims arising from the Persian Gulf War.
In the last decade, Berkeley Law has continued its tradition of adding young faculty who work at the cutting edge of theoretical scholarship in international law. Professor John Yoo, who studies the intersection of constitutional law and international affairs, has written extensively on war powers, international agreements, and international organizations. Professor Andrew Guzman works in the fields of private international law and law and economics, and has written on international choice of law issues, international regulatory issues (including bankruptcy, antitrust, and securities), foreign investment, and trade.
Today, international dimensions are found in many aspects of Berkeley Law's curriculum, involving many faculty and a large number of students. The program development of one of the nation's leading international human rights clinical programs, led by Patty Blum and Laurel Fletcher, has greatly enhanced the program in recent years. The clinical program, which has recorded a number of publicly recognized successes in court, allows students to gain practical experience by litigating actual cases involving international human rights. At the same time, new and exciting efforts integrate international legal studies with social science departments of the Berkeley campus, and a growing number of interdisciplinary endeavors have resulted from this integration.