Participants in IELE’s Certificate in American Law program
By Andrew Cohen
More than 30 professionals from six continents gathered at Berkeley Law in early January for intensive certificate programs in American Law and Intellectual Property Law. Presented by the school’s International Executive Legal Education (IELE) program, the week-long sessions reflect a growing emphasis on global engagement.
Dean Sujit Choudhry sees Berkeley Law as “a global crossroads for people and ideas,” said Louise Francis, the international program’s executive director. “That’s an important agenda of this school, not an add-on. Our vision is to bring Berkeley Law’s unique brand of education to lawyers and executives, both in the U.S. and globally. We bring in professionals who seek education in U.S. law and want to exchange ideas across borders—the practitioner, judge, executive, and regulator from all different legal systems.”
That mission was on display Jan. 12-16, when 20 participants earned a Certificate in Intellectual Property Law. Faculty members from Berkeley Law’s top-ranked IP program unpacked the fundamentals in several key areas of law, including patent, trademark, copyright, and related aspects such as trade secrets and digital privacy. The session drew international practitioners and alumni looking to refresh their understanding of IP law or retool for an IP practice.
The training also offered pragmatic ways for lawyers to help clients navigate the increasingly complex world of using and protecting intellectual property. Professionals working in technology, digital media, and related industries received guidance on solving business problems efficiently within accepted legal frameworks.
“This program offers the quality of teaching and depth of content to warrant traveling from literally anywhere in the world,” said participant Antoine Guilmain of France. “It was one of the most intense and unforgettable weeks of my life.”
Modules were taught by Professors Peter Menell, Robert Merges, and Molly Van Houweling—all faculty directors of the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology (BCLT)—as well as Chris Hoofnagle, the center’s director of information privacy programs. Participants also gained the perspectives of four top Bay Area technology lawyers from law firms, private practice, and the telecommunications industry.
“Our faculty members have been incredibly supportive of this program,” Francis said. “We wanted to deliver a rigorous IP education from our leading scholars and practitioners in these fields.”
Learning American Law
During the first full week of January, 15 professionals from 9 countries attended IELE’s Certificate in American Law program. It is designed for lawyers, corporate executives, government officials, and other professionals from overseas jurisdictions who seek a comparative understanding of U.S. common-law doctrines, case law interpretation, and analytical methods. Participants also learn aspects of business law, administrative law, and securities law relevant to international commerce.
Attendees included lawyers from the Philippines’ Office of the President, a tax attorney for Australia’s government, as well as regulators from Nigeria’s National Broadcasting Commission and lawyers from firms and companies in South America, Europe, and North America.
“In addition to learning American law, they engaged with each other to gain an understanding of how legal problems are approached in different parts of the world,” Francis said. “These sessions also help international professionals build a valuable global network with each other and with the law school community.”
Like its IP counterpart, the American Law certificate was taught by some of Berkeley Law’s most respected educators. Faculty included Professors Robert Berring, Mark Gergen, Andrew Guzman, Melissa Murray, and Anne Joseph O’Connell, as well as lecturer in residence William Fernholz. Murray and O’Connell taught introductions to Constitutional Law & Federal Statutory Rights and Administrative & Regulatory Law respectively—both new additions this year.
Offered once last year, the Certificate in American Law will be taught twice in 2015—part of IELE’s steady growth. The program has doubled its number of offerings this year; over the summer, it will provide certificate sessions in American Law, Business Law, Environmental Law, and Energy Law.
“This reflects what we’re hearing from practitioners,” Francis said. “Some people want training, but can’t commit to our LL.M. program over two full summers. Those practitioners can pick and choose among these modules and spend up to five weeks at Berkeley Law this summer in a non-degree program, learning at an executive level.”
Not Just for International Lawyers
On Jan. 23, more than 25 Bay Area lawyers attended a day-long IELE “Writing to Persuade” workshop taught by two experienced members of the law school’s professional skills faculty: Sarah Laubach and Patricia Plunkett Hurley, who won Berkeley Law’s Rutter Award for Teaching Distinction in 2013.
This locally-focused program exemplifies the breadth of IELE’s offerings. In addition to its certificate programs and U.S. practice-focused workshops, IELE customizes trainings to constituencies ranging from Oracle’s global tax department to a Brazilian law firm to high-ranking members of Thailand’s judiciary.
Francis is also eyeing opportunities for faculty to educate and engage with lawyers in Latin American countries that are instituting legal reforms in energy, the environment, and criminal justice.
“Professionals are pressured to become more compartmentalized and narrowly focused,” she said. “It’s critical to counteract that by engaging with those who are in different fields. When I walk into an IP session and hear our alumni participants talking with lawyers, regulators, and business executives from systems as diverse as Australia to Nigeria, it’s enlightening and gratifying.”