Such double-degrees are essentially an extension of traditional exchange programmes. Though reflecting the value of holding qualifications in multiple jurisdictions, as an academic credential such programmes are based on the recognition of transfer credits from the partner institution, typically involving some measure of double-counting in order for the double-degree to take less time than earning the two degrees seriatim. More interesting intellectually is when law schools actually start teaching together.
The NYU School of Law and National University of Singapore Dual Degree Programme, known informally as "NYU@NUS", is a move in this direction.38 It offers master of laws degrees from each of the partner institutions, but is taught entirely in Singapore with NYU faculty flying out during the northern summer months; students then stay on to take courses with NUS and visiting faculty. Its origins lie in a 2002 conversation between NUS Dean Tan Cheng Han and then Director of NYU's global programme Joseph Weiler when they realised that they were both seeking to offer a new form of education that reflected the way students were increasingly required to think and to practice: globally. What is novel about the approach is that it is a genuine collaboration between the two institutions, going beyond the exchange model to integrate courses into a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.
The first year (being the academic year 2007-2008) of the programme, which I direct, attracted thirty-nine students from twenty-one countries across six continents. When planning the programme, it had been assumed that two broad categories of students would apply: first, Asian students who aspire to an American legal qualification but choose not to base themselves in the United States; and, secondly, American and European students who recognise the benefit of an NYU-brand degree, but see their intellectual or professional future in Asia. The partnership with NUS is an attraction in its own right, due to the extensive offerings in region-specific subjects as well as partnerships such as that with the East China University of Politics and Law, allowing the possibility of completing some of the NUS LL.M. in Shanghai.39
Interestingly, we had assumed that the largest contingent would be in the first, Asian, category—in fact Asians made up less than half of the inaugural cohort. In the second year of the programme, over fifty students from two dozen countries enrolled, once again touching every continent and with well under half from Asia itself. This reflects the extraordinary international interest in Asia as the future of globalisation, as well as the suitability of Singapore in general and NUS in particular as a gateway to that region. Such collaborations seem likely to be replicated elsewhere, much as NYU's "global law school", first conceived in 1993,40 has become a touchstone adopted by other leading law schools such as Harvard41 and Yale.42
V. TWO CRITIQUES
The above description of the changing paradigms of legal education is not intended to suggest that the evolution that has taken place is either equitable or progressive in the political sense of the term. Indeed, on the face of it the exact opposite would appear to be true, as the ability of graduates to enter into the top jobs is increasingly tied to their ability to study in the most expensive or exclusive institutions. Is this new global legal education, then, simply a discourse of the rich?43
It is. Or rather, it is true that we are indeed talking about the privileged few, but one has always been able to make that argument about lawyers. In this context, a small ray of hope in the phenomenon of global legal education is that it is essential for lawyers to be able to cope with diversity. This offers an incentive—heavily litigated in the United States—for law schools to use scholarships to expand opportunities to candidates that are diverse in every sense.44 Nevertheless, the emergence of "global law schools" predicted by Dean Tan in this journal recently will certainly be an elite phenomenon.45
A second critique that might be made of the phenomenon and the way it has been described in this article is that what is occurring is not so much globalisation as Americanisation. This is also partly accurate, reflecting the U.S. dominance in the practice of law and its cultural influence more generally. Of the "Global Fifty" law firms cited earlier,46 thirty of the top firms by size were American; when talked by revenue all but seven were.47 Within academia, one can see the shift of English-speaking educational pedigrees from Oxbridge to the United States (for example within the faculty of the National University of Singapore48) as well as the gravitational effect of U.S. institutions on pedagogy and U.S. journals on research.
The U.S. model of legal education has also exerted its own pull. clearly influencing reform initiatives in Japan and Korea, which have moved to adopt J.D.-style graduate law degrees.49 The same may happen in Australia, where the University
of Melbourne has adopted a similar approach.50 Comparable developments appear to be underway in Hong Kong51 and the Philippines,52 where the J.D. is offered alongside the LL.B.
Nevertheless, programmes like NYU@NUS also exemplify the limitations of the U.S. model—and a recognition (by Americans and others) that a truly global legal education requires not simply the exporting of U.S. ideas but a genuine engagement with the people and the places that make up today's global profession.