Published April 12, 2013
The State of New York’s leading public Law School is embarking on an ambitious set of initiatives to establish itself as an international institution.
Under the guidance of Dean Makau W. Mutua and Professor David A. Westbrook, SUNY Buffalo Law School’s newly appointed director of global strategic initiatives, the Law School is now planning to coordinate and build on existing international engagements, and to institute some major new programs that address an increasingly international legal marketplace, and that are designed to appeal to students around the world.
“The Law School has long maintained a global presence. In the coming years we plan to expand our footprint significantly in the international arena. As New York State’s public law school, we are well positioned to lead,” says Mutua.
Chief among the new initiatives is the introduction of an accelerated J.D. program for students from outside the United States who already hold a first law degree. The program, expected to begin this fall semester, is expected to attract highly qualified students who are proficient in English and who wish to sit for the New York State Bar exam. They will be given advanced standing, meaning that they can earn the J.D. degree in two years instead of the traditional three.
“New York law is exceedingly important,” Westbrook says. “It is practiced all over the world. Along with that, New York City is not just the center of financial markets and consequently law, it is also a place for the lawful settlement of disputes, both in courts and through arbitration, from all over the globe. And, of course, the United Nations is in New York, as is the New York branch of the Federal Reserve, which manages the world’s primary reserve currency.
“Taking all this together, New York law, both in the narrow sense of transactional practice and the larger sense of legal culture, is at the heart of global law.”
The new J.D. program complements the two master of laws programs currently offered – the general LL.M. and the LL.M. in criminal law – which are also designed for international students. The LL.M. in criminal law will be strengthened when Professor Luis Chiesa, an internationally known criminal law scholar with extensive experience in Spain and Latin America, joins the faculty next year.
Also in the planning stages in this move toward a global presence for SUNY Buffalo Law: