Institutional efforts within the law school industry are a hot topic, and one relatively new area of movement in US legal education increasingly addressed is the attempt to establish a more 'global' presence through 'international' offerings for US law students. The ABA, for instance, provides a list of current foreign summer abroad programs, intersession courses and semester abroad programs, and a quick google search turns up a number of other websites offering links to foreign program opportunities for students. At the same time, these lists tend to be incomplete (the ABA's semester abroad program list does not include a number of programs, and more generally does not provide any details about the types of study abroad programs being offered) or not directly relevant for students seeking to earn credit towards their legal degrees. The missed opportunity with more comprehensive data on international program innovations at US law schools is that it not only makes it difficult to share 'best practices' among law school administrations, but it obscures a valuable source of information about specific attitudes and trends within legal education.
US Law School International Programs (Study Abroad and Semester Exchanges) provides an excel-based study to address some of these deficiencies, with the goal to provide administrations and scholars empirical data concerning new trends in study abroad and semester exchange programs in US law schools (note: click 'download' for the excel form of the study). The study was compiled over the last year, and is organized by state to include every US based program, and includes information concerning the type of programs (e.g., study abroad programs linked to foreign universities versus independent sites), links to the individual programs, and some summary information.
Looking at the data, a few trends emerge. First, where originally only the remit of upper-tier schools, these programs are becoming staples of US law schools. Second, there is an increasing prevalence for schools to offer study abroad programs based at foreign institutions, rather than simply renting out space to host abroad programs. Third, the move to base study abroad programs at foreign institutions corresponds with an increase in offerings of LLM degrees for foreign students (and sometimes domestic students) and providing opportunities for semester exchanges. The relative lack of research or other scholarly activity at International and Comparative Law Centers suggests that these innovations are largely tailored to increase law school revenue as opposed to any significant shift of emphasis to engaging international legal policy and scholarship. Also, certain geographic locations are privileged - London, popular European city destination points, some programs in Latin America and Asia - but virtually no opportunities in Eastern Europe, Central Asia or Africa.
A lot of questions remain. For example, a number of factors are not taken into account in the study, including the actual professors running the courses, the classes being taught on these programs, and the numbers for student enrollment. It also remains to be seen where the key locations will be to attract foreign students (e.g., China, India, certain Arab speaking countries) or to base future programs (e.g., is the UK/Europe over-saturated or do the rising student fees in the UK mean opportunities to set up programs there to then attract UK students that otherwise would not be interested in a US legal education).