Center for International and Comparative Law

The St. John’s Center for International and Comparative Law (CICL) promotes the study of international and foreign legal systems as a means for addressing pressing global problems. The Center is a place where students, scholars and practicing lawyers come together to address how globalization affects the practice of law, and how the law can be deployed to address emerging global challenges. Through the broad range of curricular offerings, study abroad programs offered by the Office of Transnational Programs, experiential learning opportunities, and the participation of students in scholarly work, the Center helps prepare students for practice in a globalizing legal profession, using litigation, transactional, and regulatory advisory skills. 

To learn more about the St. John’s Center for International and Comparative Law and our diverse initiatives, please contact us. To support the Center and its initiatives, please visit the Law School's online giving page or contact the Office of Alumni Relations and Development at [email protected] or 718-990-5792.

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Our Curriculum

Spurred by globalization, the scope of international law has expanded with the proliferation of international tribunals, bilateral investment treaties, international environmental rules, as well as the increasing vitalization of human rights law. This internationalization of law in turn has led to a similar internationalization of the legal profession. Lawyers assist clients who come from, work in, and engage in activities in jurisdictions throughout the globe. Clients purchase goods from foreign suppliers, execute cross-border mergers, litigate before foreign and international courts and arbitral tribunals, and pursue international human rights and environmental claims before domestic, foreign and international courts and agencies. Studying international and comparative law is a way to prepare for practice in a world in which national borders have become far less significant than in an earlier era and in which knowledge of U.S. law alone will no longer suffice.

Any legal specialty becomes an international practice when multiple national jurisdictions apply to a problem. Any legal counselor becomes an international legal counselor when the organization she represents engages in international activities. Criminal law, civil litigation, corporate transactions, real estate financing, labor and employment law, and family law are some examples of practice areas where knowledge and experience of international and foreign law are helpful tools in a lawyer’s repertoire. In addition, new lawyers with interest in international law and issues of globalization can embark on a career path with the government, such as the U.S. military Judge Advocate General (JAG) program, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), or clerkships on the U.S. Court of International Trade. In addition to working as a lawyer, legal training can be useful preparation for work as a policy analyst in a state or federal agency such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), or U.S. Department of Defense (DOD). Further, the United Nations and its affiliated agencies offer opportunities for legal and policy work on issues of peace, security, international development and human rights.

Students interested in international legal practice at St. John's can choose classes in four pathways: Cross-Border Transactions and International Business Counseling, International Dispute Resolution and Litigation, National Security and International Law Enforcement, and Public International Law and Human Rights.

Contacts Us

Christopher J. Borgen
Co-Director, St. John’s Center for International and Comparative Law
Professor of Law
St. John’s School of Law
8000 Utopia Parkway
Queens, NY 11439
718-990-1982
[email protected]

Margaret E. (Peggy) McGuinness
Co-Director, St. John’s Center for International and Comparative Law
Director, LLM in Transnational Legal Practice
Professor of Law
St. John’s School of Law
8000 Utopia Parkway
Queens, NY 11439
718-990-8018
[email protected]

Learn More

The St. John’s Center for International and Comparative Law sponsors a variety of programs and events throughout the academic year.

Recurring events open to St. John’s students and alumni:

Global Issues Series
The Global Issues Series brings international and comparative law scholars, practitioners, and others to the St. John’s campus to present their work and engage in discussion with faculty and students. Recent speakers include Andrew Davis, the head of the delegation of the government of Catalonia to the United States, to discuss Catalonia, Self-Determination, and the Future of the European Union; and Hassan Jallow, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, to discuss contemporary issues of international criminal law and the search for international justice. 

Student Fellows Program
Rising 2L and 3L students who have a demonstrated interest in international and comparative law are eligible for the student fellowship program. Student fellows work closely with professors on research projects and have the opportunity to be published.  They lead teams of students on Pro Bono for International Justice projects. They also assist in preparing Center events, such as the Global Issues Series and the annual symposia.

Academic Symposia
The Center hosts symposia where scholars and practitioners from around the world gather to discuss emerging global issues. The proceedings are published in the New York International Law Review. Recent symposia were: “Challenges to International Law, Challenges from International Law” (2011); “Drones and Transnational Armed Conflict” (2012); “Cyberconflict: Threats, Responses and the Role of Law” (2013); “The Challenges of International Human Trafficking: Domestic Counter Trafficking Programs” (2014); and “International Religious Freedom and the Global Clash of Values” (2014).

Academic Journals
The Center oversees the publication of the New York International Law Review(NYILR). The NYILR is the publication of the International Law Section of the New York State Bar Association.

International Programs
The International Law Students Association (ILSA) and the Multilingual Legal Advocates (MLA) are among the student organizations whose activities coordinate with the CICL to introduce students to opportunities in international practice. Our successful Vis International Arbitration Moot and Jessup Moot Court teams give students the opportunity to practice international law skills and advocacy in global competitions with other law students.

International Internships
The Center takes a hands-on approach to assisting students with securing summer internships in the field of international law. Over the past few summers, rising 2L and 3L students have secured internships at the International Criminal Court, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, UNICEF-Somalia, and the Court of International Trade.

Field Notes
Our Field Notes blog tracks our students working abroad and working in international law.  In addition to international internships, Field Notes covers our students involved with the Office of Transnational Programs, including the NATO Practicum, International Practicum, Academic Exchange, and Dean's Travel Program.  

CICL Pathways Program
The CICL Pathways Program, an invitation-only group, provides 1L students with a clear path for a career in international legal practice.  Students prepare for a career in international legal practice, while at the same time focusing on their 1L coursework.

Please contact us for more information about the Center's programs and offerings.

Overview

The St. John’s International Honors Program (IHP) offers selected entering St. John’s students who plan to pursue international legal practice a partial or full-tuition scholarship to fund their studies, as well as access to additional stipends to fund research, academic travel, and student teaching.  IHP Scholars are entitled to draw up to $5000 after successful completion of their first year of law school, in the form of a grant paid for by the Center for International and Comparative Law.  The grant may be used for: research, travel and living expenses for eligible summer projects and employment.  Students apply for IHP before entering St. John’s Law, and participate in the program for their full three years at St. John’s.

The Application Process

Students apply to the International Honors Program at the same time they apply to St. John’s Law.  In addition to the St. John’s Law application, students also write an IHP Addendum, explaining their reasons for wanting to be IHP Scholars.  Upon admission to St. John’s Law, applications are sent to the IHP Review Committee.  The Committee looks at the complete application, focusing on:

  • LSAT, undergraduate GPA and undergraduate university;
  • Undergraduate majors that serve as a foundation for international legal practice, such as, international relations, political science, area studies, foreign languages, economics, history, business administration, and international business;
  • Academic achievement in international topics, including an honors thesis, membership in academic honors societies and publications;
  • Experience living or working overseas, including study abroad, Peace Corps, military service, and/or volunteer activities; and
  • Demonstrated ability in one or more foreign languages.

Who are St. John’s IHP Scholars?

St. John’s provides four potential academic tracks in the International Legal Practice Pathway that cover a broad range of legal practice in a globalized economy:

  • Cross-Border Transactions and Business Counseling;
  • International Dispute Resolution and Litigation;
  • Public International Law and Human Rights; and
  • National Security and International Law Enforcement.

IHP scholars have a demonstrated interested in one or more of those tracks, and come to law school with an academic background and/or expertise and experience that match well with international practice.

What is the IHP Scholars Program?

While at St. John’s, IHP Scholars participate in a full program under the supervision of the IHP Faculty Director, which includes, beginning in the first year, participation in the International Honors Colloquium – a monthly program that brings the IHP Scholars and the Center for International and Comparative Law’s Student Fellows together with St. John’s faculty for focused discussions led by a practitioner or scholar on hot topics in international practice.  IHP Scholars also have preferential access to:

  • Summer study abroad in Rome or Paris following 1L year;
  • Placement in an International Law Practicum or Academic Exchange in Spring of 2L or Fall of 3L year;
  • Guaranteed spot in limited-enrollment international and comparative law electives in 2L and 3L years;
  • Placement in the limited-enrollment Advanced International Law Colloquium in 3L year; and
  • Teaching Fellowships in 3L year.

In addition, beginning their first day of law school, IHP Scholars are assigned a faculty mentor (drawn from the extensive list of faculty with expertise in international and comparative law), a 3L student mentor, and a Career Development Officer with expertise in international practice.  Together, these IHP mentors help guide the IHP Scholars as they make decisions regarding curriculum, research, summer jobs, and long-term career planning.

International Law Day

We recently celebrated our inaugural International Law Day, where admitted students interested in international legal practice spent a full day at St. John's Law School.  These students sat in on courses focused on International Business Transactions and International Human Rights Law; spoke with current IHP Scholars, CICL Student Fellows and other JD students; learned about the international programs at St. John's and had a private lunch with the Center's Co-Directors and the Dean of the Law School!  You can see the schedule for our inaugural International Law Day here

We invite all aspiring IHP Scholars to:

  • Sit in on an international law course;
  • Speak with current IHP Scholars;
  • Meet with international and comparative law faculty and administrators; and
  • Tour St. John's Law School. 
     

To learn more about the International Honors Program, please contact Professor Christopher J. Borgen at [email protected] or (718) 990-1982.