KU law partners with Indian law schools
- Apr. 15, 2014
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The University’s Law School recently revealed its new partnerships with four of India’s top law schools, which will encourage collaboration between students and faculty of the universities. In addition, the program aims to increase the University of Kansas’s visibility in India, enhancing job opportunities for law students from all universities involved.
“There’s a great demand for lawyers in many other countries,” said Raj Bhala, associate dean for international and comparative law and Rice Distinguished Professor at the University. “Many transactions are across borders, especially when you look at the potential with India. We want our students to have opportunities not only in Western regions, but also in these important emerging markets.”
Bhala solidified the partnerships, which were his idea, during his March-February lecture tour of India. After negotiations with the Indian universities, Bhala was able to sign agreements on behalf of Law School Dean Stephen Mazza with the National Academy of Legal Studies and Research in Hyderabad, the Government Law College in Mumbai, the Jindal Global Law School near New Delhi and the Indian Law Institute in New Delhi.
“The Dean [Stephen Mazza] was wonderfully supportive of me trying this out on behalf of the Law School,” Bhala said. “At every university, I have friends there. I have family in India, and many family members have connections at the law schools or legal employers there.”
In addition to job opportunities, this partnership will also encourage the flow of ideas between universities, allowing collaboration on research projects, scholarship opportunities for students, and international exchanges between students and faculty of all universities involved.
“If you think in terms of imports and exports of students, faculty and ideas, it enhances our cross-border trade in all three respects,” Bhala said. “It increases our bringing in students and faculty from India. It increases our going to India, and it increases the flow of ideas. In order for a law school to enhance its international visibility, it needs to think about how it can import and export more in terms of what we deal in — and we deal in people and ideas.”
University law students have been involved with India prior to this partnership as well. Second-year law students Madeline Heeren from Lenexa and Aqmar Rahman from Lawrence will be interning at J. Sagar Associates, a commercial litigation law firm in India, this summer.
“We’re both very interested in international trade,” Heeren said. “India is a flourishing market and so the opportunities there are so much greater than even the opportunities here because we have a different set of legal knowledge than they have there. Our education and our experience are assets for them over there.”
Rahman said connections with India will be crucial in upcoming years.
“The legal market and job market in general, whether you’re a law major or a business major, is becoming more global, and the University of Kansas partnering with these institutions in India is a huge step in the right direction,” Rahman said.
He said the new partnerships with the law schools in India will offer many similar opportunities to students at the University.
“I think in the future students will have a variety of options to go study in India, to learn about the legal system, to be able to interact with Indian attorneys and professors and gain a wealth of information and knowledge,” Rahman said. “I think it’s a door that’s been opened and will greatly help students for years and years to come.”
Bhala explained that due to India’s growing legal market, the partnerships were natural for the University to take. To reach out to India and create partnerships among the universities led Bhala and the University to take a step “outside of our comfort zone.”
“Most American law schools have focused much more on Europe, and when they go into the non-Western world, most of them focus on China,” he said. “But KU has had more of a global vision and we’ve seen the important emerging patterns of the rise of India. We’ve been paying attention to important markets for our visibility.”
Because other American universities focus on other areas of the world, Bhala explained that this Indian partnership is unique to the University. Bhala praised the law school’s steps in creating a wider international focus for partnerships.
“We have to be more entrepreneurial and take some calculated risks,” Bhala said. “Getting us to try to do new things is important. It’s stimulating and more important professionally for our students.”