November/December GlobaLex Issue Now Live

By Lucie Olejnikova

Here comes the last issue of 2018. The November/December double issue includes a new article on the Right to Housing along with seven updates: Customary International Law, Afghanistan, Bolivia, Caribbean, Finland, Guinea, and South Korea. Below is the full table of contents along with our authors’ bios. Webmasters and content managers, please update your pages.

Congratulations and heartfelt thanks to all our authors who continue to deliver exemplary scholarship. And we wish you all Happy Holidays!


Researching the Right to Housing by S M Atia Naznin at http://www.nyulawglobal.org/globalex/Housing_Rights.html.

S M Atia Naznin is a Lecturer at the School of Law, BRAC University, in Bangladesh. She is currently on study leave to pursue Ph.D. in Law at Macquarie University, Australia, focusing on issues related to litigation and forced slum eviction in Bangladesh. She holds a Master’s in Human Rights and Democratization from the University of Sydney, Australia and a Master’s and a Bachelor’s of Laws from the University of Dhaka, Bangladesh. She has recently published an article titled ‘Justiciability of the Basic Necessity of Housing: Litigation of Forced Slum Evictions in Bangladesh’ in the Australian Journal of Asian Law (18 Australian Journal of Asian Law, 2, p. 9, 2017).


UPDATE: Researching Customary International Law, State Practice and the Pronouncement of States Regarding International Law by Catherine Deane at http://www.nyulawglobal.org/globalex/Customary_International_Law1.html

Catherine A. Deane is the Research Specialist for the Bay Area Offices of Shearman & Sterling LLP. She has a B.A. in Cultural Anthropology with a Certificate in Latin American Studies from Princeton University, an M.A. in Cultural Anthropology, a J.D. with a Certificate in International and Comparative Law from the University of Tulsa in Oklahoma, and an M.L.I.S. degree from San Jose State University, School of Library and Information Science.


UPDATE: Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Legal System and Research by Ahmadullah Masoud at http://www.nyulawglobal.org/globalex/Afghanistan1.html.

Ahmadullah Masoud is the Legal Technical Member of the Financial Dispute Resolution Commission (DAB) in Kabul, Afghanistan. Prior to his current position, he worked as the Senior Huququ Training Specialist at the Assistance for the Development of Afghan Legal Access and Transparency (ADALAT) USAID Project at Checchi and Company Consulting, Inc. He was also the Legal Adviser to the Ministry of Economy in Kabul, Afghanistan where he participated in drafting process of policies and laws, and provided legal advice and technical support to MOEC leadership. Mr. Masoud was also the Lecturer at the Law Faculty, Dean of Political Science, and the Acting Chancellor of Mashal University, in Kabul, Afghanistan. As the lecturer, he taught constitutional, defense, and family law as well as legal research and legal writing courses. His experience includes providing legal services in the areas of corporate, tax, contract, investment, and legal drafting and translation at the Elite Legal Services where he worked as the Finance Officer and Tax Adviser. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in Islamic Law from Sharia Faculty of Kabul University, his Master’s Degree in Law (LL.M.) from the University of Washington School of Law, and he is licensed defense lawyer of the Afghanistan Independent Bar Association. He is multilingual working in English, Arabic, Urdu, Dari, and Pashtu.


UPDATE: The Bolivian Legal Framework by Gonzalo Dávila Maceda at http://www.nyulawglobal.org/globalex/Bolivian_Legal_Framework1.html.

Gonzalo Dávila Maceda is founding partner of Reynolds & Asociados Sociedad Civil – Estudio de Abogados in La Paz, Plurinational State of Bolivia. Gonzalo is a legal practitioner with postgraduates in business administration and in Oil & Gas Law. After being formed in a French High School in Bolivia he obtained his LLB at the Bolivian Catholic University’s Law School in 1997 and his Diploma in Petroleum Law in 2000 as a Chevening scholar at the Centre for Energy Petroleum and Mineral Law and Policy (CEPMLP) at the University of Dundee in Scotland. For more than 20 years he focused his experience in Civil Law, Commercial Law, Labor Law, Competition Law, Regulatory Law, Administrative Law, Environmental Law, Petroleum Law, Electricity Law, Telecommunications Law, Mining Law having acquired that experience working for almost 9 years as senior legal advisor for the Bolivian Hydrocarbons Regulator and from his later experience in the private counseling field for more than 12 years. He worked as intern at the Swiss Competition Commission in Bern-Switzerland. He has participated in the drafting of legislation in the oil and gas sector. He is member of the La Paz Bar Association since 1997. He lectures in several universities in La Paz. He speaks Spanish, English and French.


UPDATE: Guide to Caribbean Law Research by Yemisi Dina at http://www.nyulawglobal.org/globalex/Caribbean1.html.

Yemisi Dina, B.A, M.A, LL.B, MLIS,MPPAL is Associate Librarian/Head of Public Services at the Osgoode Hall Law Library, York University, Ontario, Canada. Prior to this position, she worked as Manager of Adult Services at the Central Library, Richmond Hill Public Library, Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada; Law Librarian University of The West Indies/ College of The Bahamas LL.B Program, Nassau, The Bahamas; Law Librarian at the Adeola Odutola Law Library, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria and Principal Librarian at the Nigerian Law School, Lagos Campus, Nigeria. Her areas of research include law librarianship, legal research methods and information technology and law.


UPDATE: Finnish Law on the Internet by Erika Bergström at http://www.nyulawglobal.org/globalex/Finland1.html.

Erika Bergström works as a Chief Information Specialist at the Library of Parliament of Finland. She graduated from the University of Helsinki Faculty of Law in 1997 (LLM) and obtained a post-graduate degree of law in 2006 (LL.Lic), also from the University of Helsinki. Prior to joining the Library of Parliament she worked for ten years as a lawyer and legal information specialist at one of Finland’s leading law firms.


UPDATE: Guinean Legal System and Research by Ibrahima Sidibe at http://www.nyulawglobal.org/globalex/Guinea1.html.

Ibrahima Sidibe is Professor of Law at the University of Lansana Conte of Sonfonia-Conakry, Departement Droit Public Et d’Anglais, Centre Universitaire de Kindia, Kindia, Republique de Guinee, West Africa.


UPDATE: Research and Bibliography for Korean Law Resources in English by Jootaek Lee at http://www.nyulawglobal.org/globalex/South_Korean_Legal_Resources1.html.

Jootaek Lee is an assistant professor and librarian at Rutgers Law School (Newark). Mr. Lee is also an adjunct professor and an affiliated faculty for the Program on Human Rights and the Global Economy (PHRGE) at the Northeastern University School of Law. He is also a Massachusetts attorney and a prolific scholar and author. He has published in prestigious journals, including Georgetown Environmental Law Review, Law Library Journal, International Journal of Legal Information, Legal Reference Services Quarterly, Korea University Law Review, and Globalex. His research focuses on human rights to land, water and education, Asian practice of international law, especially human rights and international criminal law, legal informatics, Korean law and legal education, and pedagogy in law. He made numerous presentations at national and international conferences. He is active with the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) and the American Society of International Law (ASIL), having served on AALL’s Diversity Committee, CONELL Committee, and Awards Committee. He is the former Co-Chair of International Legal Research Interest Group of the ASIL (2012-2015) and the former president of Asian American Law Librarians Caucus of AALL (2013-2014).

 

For more articles, visit GlobaLex at http://www.nyulawglobal.org/globalex/index.html.

Supporting the International Team Project Program

By Sarah Reis

This is the second post in a series of posts over the next year about adjusting to my new position as a foreign and international law librarian. I started my position at the Pritzker Legal Research Center at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law in February 2018.

At the start of this academic year, I took over as director of the International Team Project (ITP) program at Northwestern Law. In this program, students spend a semester studying the legal system, culture, and political system of another country and then travel to that country to conduct interviews with in-country contacts. Since the program started in 1999, students have conducted research in more than 40 countries.

During this initial first year of taking over this program, my goal is to provide a research guide and an in-class research presentation for each class. The countries of study differ from year to year and are typically not repeated in consecutive years, which is both a challenge and a great learning experience for a new FCIL librarian because it means that I need to quickly familiarize myself with researching the law of various foreign countries.

ITP courses are student driven: students are responsible for developing the syllabus with the approval of a faculty advisor, leading class discussions, setting up interviews with in-country contacts, and arranging travel. Generally, the law school offers one ITP course in the fall with travel occurring over winter break and four or five ITP courses in the spring with travel occurring over spring break.

Students in the fall ITP course will be traveling to Tanzania in a few weeks. Earlier this semester, I created a research guide on researching Tanzanian law and also visited their class to give a research presentation. This presentation provided the students with a basic introduction to international legal research as well as an overview of how to research the law of Tanzania and keep up with current events in that country. I customized the presentation to include hands-on exercises geared toward their research topics.

I have also been brainstorming methods to support the ITP classes beyond a research guide and in-class presentation. Students in an ITP class form small research groups of 3-4 students who work together on a research topic and write a paper together. I am eager to explore possible opportunities for students to publish these papers (as long as their interviewees give consent). Countries of study are selected in the spring prior to the academic year when the courses will be offered. The countries of study for the ITP courses being offered this academic year were set prior to my taking over this role, but I am looking forward to assisting students and faculty advisors with selecting countries and providing resources to help generate research topic ideas for next academic year’s course offerings.

So far, this role has been a helpful way for me to get to know students outside of the classroom and beyond the reference desk because approximately a hundred students participate in the program each year. I held a few trainings for the student team leaders earlier this year and frequently communicate with them on an ongoing basis about logistics pertaining to travel, curriculum, and finance. The program has also been a great way for me to get to know faculty members who I may not otherwise work with often because our library has a liaison system. Additionally, this role has provided me with the opportunity to work with other law school and university departments, including the Registrar, Office of Financial Aid, Alumni Relations, and the Office of Global Safety & Security.

Students in our five spring ITP classes will be traveling to Morocco, Switzerland, Iceland, South Africa, and Argentina. If other law schools have a similar program to this one or offer comparative law classes that require presentations or trainings by FCIL librarians on researching the law of particular foreign countries, I would love to be able to share materials, ideas, and exercises.

Reis - ITP Photo

Overview of the China International Commercial Courts

By Evelyn Ma

CaptureThis post attempts to consolidate blog posts relating to the recent establishment of the two new international commercial courts in China (CICC) aimed at facilitating resolution of disputes arising from China’s One Belt One Road or Belt and Road Initiative.  The Supreme People’s Court of China’s “Provisions of the Supreme People’s Court on Several Issues Regarding the Establishment of the International Commercial Court” took effect on July 1, 2018.  The Provisions set out the scope and operation of the two CICCs: one in Xian, and the other in Shenzhen.  The CICC in Shenzhen will focus on “One Belt” disputes arising from infrastructural developments along the coastline of the maritime routes.  The CICC in Xian will address “One Road” disputes arising from projects on land. The new courts will house mediation, arbitration and litigation under the same roof.  They intend to deal primarily with “international commercial cases” where at least one party is a non-Chinese national or resident, or where the dispute has some minimal contact with a foreign country other than China.[1]

For the legal framework creating the two CICC courts, see here.

For an overview of the jurisdiction of the courts, see here, here and here.

For the development and viability of the courts as an alternative forum for international arbitration, see here and here.

For profiles of the judges, see here.

For observations on the functioning of the Expert Committee, see here.

In addition to 18 model (or “typical”) BRI infrastructure cases, the official website includes selections of summaries of additional “typical” arbitration cases involving a non-Chinese party.  One can also search in the cases module of PKUlaw (ChinaLawInfo) for more comprehensive search results of arbitration cases involving a foreign party. However, most do not come with English translations.

[1] Under Article 3 of the Provisions, an “international commercial case” is one which requires at least one of the following: one or both parties are foreign nationals; one or both parties reside outside of China; or the object of suit or legal facts that create, change or terminate the commercial relationship occur or occurred outside of China.

Comparative Law and the Lies of Donald Trump

By Mary Rumsey

“It’s crazy. Other countries it’s called, ‘I’m sorry, you can’t come in, you have to leave.’ This one, we have judges. If they step on our land we have judges. It’s insane. So we’re going to have to change our whole immigration policy.”[1]  –Trump

“We’re the only country in the world where a person comes in, has a baby, and the baby is essentially a citizen of the United States for 85 years with all of those benefits.”[2] –Trump

Our current President makes statements about foreign law the way he talks about many other things—without any basis in fact.

As an exercise in comparative legal research, I spent some time this week looking at foreign law regarding asylum and citizenship. Several years ago, I had researched comparative asylum law to help Professor Stephen Meili, who has written extensively on asylum (and who, incidentally, is exactly the kind of person a human rights advocate should be). At that time, I had to dig fairly deeply to find information on asylum practice, particularly in European countries. I was curious to see if the tools for asylum research had improved.

One great source that I found is the Asylum Information Database (AIDA), a database managed by the European Council on Refugees and Exiles. AIDA contains information on asylum procedures and related issues across 23 countries, including Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Germany, Spain, France, Greece, Croatia, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Sweden, Slovenia, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Serbia, and Turkey. This database would have saved me hours of research; it systematically organizes key information on procedures in each jurisdiction. AIDA also provides statistics on outcomes of asylum applications.

The descriptions of countries’ asylum procedures make clear that the standard practice is to offer an asylum applicant a hearing with an administrative official; next, a rejected applicant can appeal to a board or a court, depending on the jurisdiction. In other words, the US process is nearly identical to that of these major receiving countries.

A much less comprehensive tool is the Kluwer Online International Encyclopaedia of Laws: Migration Law. I’ve never been able to detect a pattern in the countries that each International Encyclopaedia of Laws topic covers, but I appreciate the high quality and thoroughness of the entries.

Trump has also claimed repeatedly that the US is the only country in the world that grants so-called “birthright citizenship.” I suspected that birthright citizenship might have been hashed out in law review articles, so I checked Westlaw. I love it when someone else does (some of) my work for me, and in this case, a 2017 student note informed me that birthright citizenship is recognized in thirty other countries.[3]

If I were doing this research “for real,” I would then find the relevant legislation for each country. One approach would be to use Refworld, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees’ database. Refworld contains citizenship laws for most countries:

RefWorld

I might also use Foreign Law Guide to identify the relevant laws; many of the laws in Refworld don’t have titles in English. Foreign Law Guide identifies what a country’s main citizenship law is in English, so it might be a faster way to figure out what I need.

It wouldn’t take much research to debunk these false claims about asylum and citizenship. The truth is out there.

 

[1] Ian Schwartz, Trump on Immigration Judges: In Other Countries, It’s Called “I’m Sorry, You Can’t Come In, You Have To Leave,” June 26, 2018, https://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2018/06/26/trump_on_immigration_judges_in_other_countries_its_called_im_sorry_you_cant_come_in_you_have_to_leave.html.

[2] John Wagner, Trump Eyes Order to End Birthright Citizenship. Legal Experts Say That Would Violate Constitution, Chicago Trib., Oct. 30, 2018, https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/ct-birthright-citizenship-babies-20181030-story.html.

[3] Katherine Nesler, Note, Resurgence of the Birthright Citizenship Debate, 55 Wash. U. J.L. & Pol’y 215 (2018).

WestPact 2018 Recap: Charting the Legal Systems of the West Pacific Islands: Tracking Down Primary Documentation

By Shay Elbaum

WestPacIslands.jpgVictoria Szymczak, Director of the Law Library and Associate Professor of Law at the University of Hawai’i William S. Richardson School of Law, led off the “Teddy Talks” segment of the program with a look into the process of creating her research guide, Charting the Legal Systems of the Western Pacific Islands, recently published by Hein. This guide grew from Szymczak’s collection development work in this area. Hawai’i is, of course, a Pacific island itself, and the mission of the UH School of Law expressly recognizes a responsibility to the Pacific region. As the only American academic law library in a region especially vulnerable to climate change, the library’s work with Pacific island legal systems is particularly timely. The uniqueness of these legal systems also drew Szymczak to this work; rather than “mixed” or “pluralist”, these systems are best described as “hybrid”, merging elements of indigenous and Western systems into a unified whole.

Two major challenges Szymczak faced were the complexity of Pacific island legal systems and the differences among them. Nearby islands can have vastly different legal systems, depending on – among other things – whether they had been colonized by France, Britain, or the United States; whether the indigenous culture was Melanesian, Micronesian, or Polynesian; and what the colonial status of the island was. Szymczak chose to focus only on five former British colonies for this guide, but still had to grapple with the differences between colonies, protected states, protectorates, and condominiums, the many name changes as islands went from independent to colony (or protectorate, or…) and back to independent, and the frustrating lack of citations to primary sources in many of the works she consulted.

The result is a detailed and eminently usable guide to researching the legal systems of Tonga, Tuvalu, Kiribati, Vanuatu, and the Solomon Islands. Szymczak helps the reader navigate through those complexities and more, and gives us the tools to identify, access, and interpret the relevant primary sources. In her presentation, she highlighted the many different lawmaking authorities in each nation during the colonial era, each with different powers and producing different kinds of law depending on the unique features of their nation. She also discussed some particularly useful sources, such as Hertslet’s Commercial Treaties; Hertslet’s contains primary documents relating to British commerce, and includes many Pacific island-related documents because of their locations along major trade routes.

Szymczak closed with some illustrations of the unique blend of customary and British law found in these legal systems. She gave the example of the Solomon Islands’ constitution, which provides for the continuation of certain colonial laws where not inconsistent with customary law. As a result, the courts of that nation must interpret and apply customary law alongside other sources of law.

This presentation packed quite a bit into the half-hour “Teddy Talk” time slot. I enjoyed learning about what goes into creating a resource like this – and now that I know about this guide, I’m looking forward to having an opportunity to use it!

IALL 2018 Recap: Special Features of Luxembourg Law, such as its Sources

By Jessica Pierucci

This year’s IALL Annual Course was hosted in the country of Luxembourg.  On October 1, 2018, attendees were treated to a fantastic discussion of special features of Luxembourg law by Gilles Cuniberti, Professor of Private International Law and Comparative Law at the University of Luxembourg. This recap summarizes these fascinating details of the laws of this small European country.

Luxembourg sources of law.jpg

Professor Gilles Cuniberti discusses special features of Luxembourgish law.

Luxembourg is a civil law jurisdiction, meaning that codes and non-codified statutes are the county’s primary source of law. Case law, while not an official source of law, nevertheless plays an important role in practice. Academic writing is also highly influential.

Luxembourg is a small jurisdiction. As of 2018, the county’s population of about 600,000 residents includes only 313,000 nationals. As of December 2017, the country’s judiciary includes a total of only 249 judges. Accordingly, the country has limited institutional capacity in the court system, so there are frequently few or no Luxembourg cases to refer to on a given topic.

Luxembourg was a French province until 1815 and, as such, Luxembourg law is primarily grounded in the Napoleonic codes. Although France has since reformed many of its laws, there has not been a strong desire or institutional capacity in Luxembourg to make the same reforms. As a result, understanding the law can sometimes require turning to old pre-reform French law books to help understand and interpret the current law of Luxembourg.

While much Luxembourg law is borrowed, Luxembourg uses its institutional capacity for law making in two key ways: First, to comply with international obligations and implement EU legislation and, second, to create innovative laws in banking and finance and in space law. Luxembourg is a prominent finance capital and the richest state in Europe. The space industry is a current state priority, leading to the proliferation of laws to implement this priority.

Academic literature is highly influential in the Luxembourg legal system. Luxembourg did not have its own university until the University of Luxembourg was established in 2003. As a result, judges and lawyers received their training abroad, frequently in France and Belgium, so French and Belgian scholarship is frequently cited in cases. Further, judges only practice law for two years after law school before becoming judges and often turn to academic writing, frequently from the country where they studied, to help them decide cases, particularly those based on imported law. In recent years, the Belgian influence has waned and it’s possible that, as the University of Luxembourg matures with more scholarship on Luxembourg law produced by law professors in Luxembourg, the French influence could wane with it. But given that masters programs are generally not offered in Luxembourg and university students at the University of Luxembourg are all required to partake in an Erasmus semester studying abroad, among other factors, the French influence is likely to remain for the foreseeable future.

While Luxembourg is a civil law jurisdiction, case law has recently played a greater role in the Luxembourg legal system despite not being an official source of law. Judges frequently follow Belgian courts for commercial law and consider French cases generally authoritative. One example is tort law, which is an almost entirely judge-made area of law in France and that is all but missing from the codes. Luxembourg courts typically follow French torts cases, with two notable exceptions. France has rejected acceptance of risk and personal immunity of employees, but Luxembourg still has these two elements of tort law.

The worldwide influence of French case law, including on Luxembourg, may be the result of two key factors. First, judges of many Francophone countries were educated in France because the county is generally considered prestigious and welcoming, but Russia, China, and other countries are becoming more welcoming, so it’s possible this could shift in coming years. Second, the French encyclopedia Juris Classeur (LexisNexis) is available electronically and has almost become authoritative in Luxembourg, allowing an exhaustive and detailed understanding of French law.

Ultimately, Luxembourg is a small civil law jurisdiction that has imported much of its law and continues to rely on the laws of other countries in numerous ways, but the country is slowly shaping its own legal tradition as it has done with business and finance, and space law.

Working with FCIL Collections in British Law Libraries

By Erin Gow

Most of my FCIL experience has come from working at law libraries in the United Kingdom, where I started my career. British collections are, understandably, not considered foreign in the UK. This means that I worked in libraries with extremely deep, strong, and wide-ranging British legal collections. Primary and secondary materials were collected in both print and electronic formats. The libraries held not only primary legislation and key treatises but also British legal reference materials, journals, law reports, secondary legislation, ecclesiastical law, historic materials, citators, indexes, and a wealth of other materials comparable to the range of American resources found in a law library in the US.

BasicEUCollectionatGrays

The basic EU collection at Gray’s Inn Library.

Since the UK is a part of the European Union and Council of Europe, British law libraries also hold collections of legal materials related to these organizations. The law libraries that I worked at were attached to Inns of Court, which form a loose coalition and divide responsibilities for specialist FCIL collections between themselves. Gray’s Inn Library, where I was first employed, specializes in international law, while Middle Temple Library, where I worked until leaving the UK, specializes in European and American law. The other two Inn Libraries (Lincoln’s Inn and Inner Temple) divided the Commonwealth countries between them.

Gray’s Inn Library did not have a designated FCIL or International Librarian when I worked there, so everyone was expected to assist with the specialist international collection. This meant lending a hand with cataloging international materials, consulting both primary and secondary international sources to answer reference questions, and assisting library users in accessing these materials. Nearly all the international materials held at Gray’s Inn Library were in English, and consisted mostly of secondary resources along with selected key primary sources such as treaties.

MiddleTempleBritishLawReports

A portion of the extensive collection of British law reports at Middle Temple Library.

At Middle Temple Library I worked as the European Librarian responsible for that special collection. While all the Inn libraries held some basic European Union materials, complex questions requiring more obscure resources were referred to the specialist collection at Middle Temple Library. The collection also included national materials from European countries, along with Council of Europe materials.

I found that being comfortable with a federal legal system gave me an edge in trying to wrap my mind around the European Union, which could be somewhat baffling to those used to a legal system where all powers are delegated from a central body. Although the distinction between the European Union and the Council of Europe plagued many people, the biggest learning curve for me came in working with national resources from civil law jurisdictions. Getting to grips with a completely different legal structure was particularly difficult for me in countries where the national language was not English. Most of our library patrons were English-only speakers, so the collection policy at Middle Temple Library focused on English resources whenever they were available. As an English-only speaker this made my life easier in many regards, but it was impossible to fulfill my responsibilities as European librarian or to maintain a complete collection without sometimes working with foreign language materials. There were several key French codes, for example, which Middle Temple Library traditionally held in print in the official French. When it became clear that these codes were woefully out of date I spent several weeks in protracted negotiations with French legal publishers tracking down and purchasing the appropriate replacements. Luckily my manager at the time was able to provide extremely competent translations of emails between myself and the French publisher, but I still had to identify the correct codes to purchase by cobbling together my own translations of the promotional materials.

Since Middle Temple Library specialized in American law as well, I interacted with this collection a fair amount, especially as my co-workers began to realize that they could call on me when the librarian responsible for the collection was absent. Explaining American legal resources as foreign law was an oddly frustrating sort of fun. It was nice to work with a collection where I was guaranteed to always know the language, particularly after some of my more complex excursions into European resources, but I found myself struggling to answer questions that British practitioners believed should be straightforward. I was frequently asked why Federal courts hadn’t ruled on a particular issue, for example, or which case reporters were the most authoritative for court use (I’m unaware of an American equivalent to the vital British concern of authoritative law reports). Law reporters arranged geographically were understandably unhelpful for British lawyers, and questions that tapped into the library’s special collection on the death penalty always reminded me just how ideologically foreign American law could be. My work with American legal materials while in the UK, more than anything else, made me realize just how many key differences can be masked by a shared language and history.

My experience of working with FCIL collections in the UK has continued to shape how I approach these resources now that I am in the US. A practical grounding in a variety of legal structures allows me to research unfamiliar topics across a range of jurisdictions with some confidence, but the experience of “foreign” as a changing concept ensures I never forget to respect the wide-ranging variety of FCIL resources.