“You don’t have true freedom until you allow a diversity of opinion and a diversity of voices.” – Don Lemon
As business moguls, change agents and leaders worldwide would agree, diversity is the key to success.
Defined as “a range of things which are very different from each other”, diversity has become somewhat of a ‘buzzword’ across virtually every global sector from business to politics. And it’s true that in an age of looming cultural tensions and political discord, the term has inevitably become tricky to avoid.
In fact, we cannot deny that diversity has earned its place in our hyperconnected world; ongoing movements like Black Lives Matter and the Women’s March, for example, have shown us just how deeply the concept is now ingrained in human nature. They also show us that global communities believe diversity is something worth fighting for whenever they find there’s a lack of it… and this couldn’t also be more relevant in a professional sense – especially in the professional field of international law.
“Diversity in the legal profession is no longer seen as an added bonus, rather a necessity that helps to improve the overall workability…,” Faiza Bishi writes for Aspiring Solicitors. “…When brought together, individuals from different walks of life can compare their skills, building on each other’s strengths, whilst improving their weaknesses,” she adds. “Each individual can bring their own style and methodology which leads to more innovative ways of thinking.”
On top of bolstering individual performance, the concept is incredibly beneficial to qualified law firm leaders, ushering a boost in general productivity and overall service quality. It is, of course, important to require the technical expertise relevant to the legal field – that’s why we go to law school, after all – but it’s easy to underestimate the power of possessing sound social competence.
When working in a global setting or alongside culturally-varied groups, the ability to forge strong and reliable personal relationships speaks volumes in terms of settling client affairs.
“Instead of discussing particular skills for each individual group, country or region of the world, we tend to work with people to develop a mindset that will ensure success across cultures,” writes Dr. William Guillory in Becoming a Diverse Law Firm.
“Three key skills that [a] lawyer should develop to be successful in the global marketplace are (1) adaptability to new situations,” Dr. Guillory adds, “(2) sensitivity to different cultures, and (3) international negotiation skills,” he concludes.
Known to instil the prowess needed to succeed in the legal profession through their world-class academics, but also known to harbour the culturally-rich environments that allow 21st century graduates to thrive, there’s no better place to prepare for the demands of contemporary law than at an elite, globally-minded and respected law school.
If you hope to pave your way to legal success, here are 5 schools that promote diversity in the global business of law…
With its beautifully situated and well-resourced campuses on the Gold Coast, Queensland, and in Lismore, New South Wales, the School of Law and Justice at Southern Cross University (SCU) is brick-and-mortar proof that an emphasis on diversity in legal education will open doors around the world for anyone who dares to knock.
Apart from providing innovative learning spaces in stimulating locations – SCU Gold Coast sits against a stunning Pacific Ocean backdrop, while SCU Lismore is a quick ride away from surfing mecca Byron Bay – its presence in two states also makes the school uniquely bi-jurisdictional: it teaches two forms of state law, in addition to the national law curriculum.
SCU’s commitment to diversity also shows in the variety of its law programmes, as well as the flexibility of their on-line and on campus modes of delivery. For aspiring lawyers, SCU’s highly regarded LL.B. programme provides a thorough grounding in legal practice and theory, with a core curriculum and innovative electives that can be studied on-line and/or on campus. Students can also combine other SCU bachelor’s programs—for example, in Business, Arts, Environmental Science– with the SCU LL.B., again either on-line or on campus.
Prospective paralegals can enrol, on-line or on campus, in SCU’s Associate Degree in Law (Paralegal Studies), while students who are interested in studying law—but not necessarily in practicing it–can enrol in Bachelor of Legal and Justice Studies, as well on-line or on campus. Because of the strong practical and academic training both these programs provide, they act as alternative pathways for many non-traditional students into SCU’s prestigious LLB course.
Post-graduate law programmes at SCU include a new, wholly on-line LLM (Business Law) for LL.B. graduates and an on-line Masters of Business Law (MBL) for non–law graduates. Designed with the busy professional in mind, both programmes offer excellent opportunities for further specialisation in business law through an exciting range of electives, including Intellectual Property, Global Business Law and Corporate Litigation.
With experienced and approachable lecturers who teach everything from environmental and ecological justice to international human rights, as well as a colourful and talented student body comprising everyone from high school leavers through to the mature-aged lifelong learners, SCU’s clear commitment to excellence and diversity is abundantly clear, informing its varied and unique on-line and on campus law programmes that fully prepare graduates for the 21st century’s rich and rewarding array of legal careers.
Established back in 1991, Waikato’s Faculty of Law was built upon the principles of professionalism, biculturalism and legal study within a real-world context. Consistently ranked among the Top 200 Law Schools worldwide, the Faculty provides a renowned education in the complex and ever-changing field of global law.
“Our student body is quite diverse and have opportunities to pursue their interests through competitive moots, internships and student associations,” notes Wayne Rumbles, Dean of Law at Waikato.
“Our staff consists of distinguished scholars from many nations,” he adds, “and we benefit from frequent guest speakers from overseas along with across the country to enrich your learning experience. Waikato is thus a truly exciting place to study…how [law] is changing to meet the needs on New Zealand in an increasingly global society.”
With an approach that confronts legal study in its social, political, cultural and economic contexts, the faculty nurtures graduates who are competent in contemporary practice. Programmes cover everything from Bachelor’s, to LLB, LLM, M.Phil, Graduate Diploma, Postgraduate Certificate, PhD and S.JD, offering the breadth and depth of study needed to succeed in the 21st century world.
The Faculty of LAW at Hong Kong Poly delivers undergraduate- and postgraduate-level courses in the diverse fields of Business Law, Company Law, Corporate Social Responsibility, Chinese Law, Corporate Governance, Securities Regulation, E-Commerce Law, Employment Law, Insolvency Law, Banking Law, Financial Reporting Environment, and Basic Law, just to name a few.
Developing unique specialisations in Competition Law, Corporate Governance Laws and Empirical Legal Studies, faculty members derive from virtually every global region, enriching the study experience with international insights and invaluable cultural perspectives.
“Not only is our School the first of its kind in Hong Kong, but also perhaps the largest in the world in terms of the number of Faculty members and student population,” notes Professor Agnes Cheng, Head of the Faculty at HK Poly’s School of Accounting and Finance. “Among our full-time teaching staff of around 100, we have built up a critical mass of specialists in key disciplines…” she adds.
“The highly qualified and diverse backgrounds of our faculty members also help advance our interdisciplinary approach to teaching, research and consultancy within the School.”
Bringing together students from a range of legal disciplines, the School of Law at GGU offers an elite and practice-led education. Characterised by inherent diversity and encouraging innovation, the school’s full- and part-time programmes promote academic rigour, ethics and the principles of contemporary lawyering to ensure all-round graduate success.
The school’s powerful alumni network spans every region of the globe, cementing a professional presence in every aspect of legal practice and the judiciary, as well as in federal and state courts across the US. They also go on to become partners in large- and small-scale firms, work as in-house corporate counsel, in government agencies and non-profits, and many more exciting fields.
“GGU Law students bring unique backgrounds and life experiences to a learning environment that is focused on combining academic rigor and skills-infused courses to develop practice-ready graduates,” states Professor Rachel Van Cleave, Dean and Professor of Law at the School.
“The Law School’s dynamic, urban setting in the heart of San Francisco’s financial district fosters confident, savvy, and socially-responsible lawyers,” she explains. “Our location and program offer a rich array of opportunities to engage in pro bono and other legal work under the supervision of practicing lawyers and the guidance of thoughtful, generous and experienced professors.”
Not only do Southwestern LL.M. students get to enjoy southern California’s agreeable climate with plenty of leisure activities close by, they can also make the most of the institution’s state-of-the-art facilities and beautiful campus.
Southwestern’s custom LL.M. program allows students to put together their own roster of classes based on their interests and needs. They can choose from focus areas like:
- International Business Law and Negotiation
- Advocacy and Dispute Resolution
- American Law & Legal Systems
- International Human Rights
- Environmental Law/ Land Use/ Real Property
LA’s cosmopolitan setting is comfortable yet stimulating for its international student population. The people of Los Angeles hail from many different countries, creating warm, welcoming enclaves in various areas of the city.
“Meeting people from different backgrounds and cultures – coming from both civil and common law legal systems – further opened my eyes and expanded my experiences,” says Southwestern Law student Matthew Giuliani, originally from Australia. “Learning alongside my diverse classmates was something that really added value to my time at Southwestern.
*Some of the institutions featured in this article are commercial partners of Study International