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NYU Creates New Global Law Program in Singapore

  • Noelle Esquire

Globalization is changing the way law is practiced around the world.

New York University and the National University of Singapore are collaborating to offer a dual graduate law degree program in Singapore.

Students will earn two Masters of Law degrees by studying with NYU and NUS (National University of Singapore) faculty in Singapore for nine months.

Simon Chesterman heads the NYU Law School's Institute for International Law and Justice. He will direct the Singapore program and teach courses about the law of international organizations.

"Law is a lot more complicated than it used to be before the world became globalized, and global law is simply the academic reaction to that in terms of the practice," he noted. "Hopefully, the academic cutting edge of where we are going is understanding the phenomenon and perhaps shaping it in some small way."

NYU, a private university, claims to send more students abroad than any other U.S. university and has a high proportion of international students on its campus. Eleven years ago, the University established a program to address changes being made in the practice of law around the world, inviting foreign professors to teach at the law school.

Now, with the dual degree program, NYU will send faculty to Singapore, creating a strong link to Asia. Chesterman says Asia is the obvious starting point for a global program today.

"It is the most obvious starting point because of the economic activity that happens in Asia, but also the clear need that at the moment, Asian law typically is understood as comparative law," he added. "Whereas what we really want to tap into is NUS's experience in comparing Japanese, and Chinese, and Thai, and Vietnamese and Cambodian and Laotian law, and so on. We see it really as looking at Asia in a much more complex tapestry."

Students will be able to focus on either Justice and Human Rights or Asian and United States Business Law. NYU faculty will teach two thirds of the courses and NUS faculty will teach one third.

The entire program will be conducted in Singapore, but enrolled students will be full time NYU students. It will be limited to 100 students. A total of 50 full tuition scholarships will be offered every year for the next four years.

Chesterman envisions a program that will enhance the students, the faculty, and both universities.

"I hope it will enrich the intellectual life in both institutions," he said. "That this will be a true partnership and it will be a true learning experience on both sides. So, NYU at the moment has a great international law faculty, but this should enrich our understanding of Asian law. For NUS, it will enormously enrich its access to American law schools, in particular NYU, and be good in terms of raising their own participation within the global legal community that is increasingly active these days."

The universities anticipate enrolling the first 100 students in May 2007. The success of the program will be evaluated after the first four years to determine whether to continue it. NYU hopes the collaboration with the National University of Singapore will serve as a model for future global law programs.

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