Blog - Commentary

By Reuben Guttman on 31 October 2013

A Global Epicentre

IBA 2013 - Washington University Law Prof Michael Koby explains academic strategies

Our man at the IBA, Reuben Guttman, is most impressed by a law professor from Washington University who is teaching the world from a booth in the convention centre.

BOSTON, MASS -- It is day two of the International Bar Association's Convention here and Washington University Law Professor Michael Koby is sitting in a chair at Washington University's booth in a cavernous convention hall.
 
In front of Koby is his notebook computer and above him -- for all to see -- is a large flat screen television with Koby's face and the faces of his students from across the globe. Amidst Convention chaos, Koby is teaching a civil procedure class to students in Brazil, China, Japan, Mexico and other countries across the globe. Koby proudly points out that one of his students is a member of the Parliament in India. 
 
Washington University is a prime sponsor of this 2013 IBA Convention and it came here to promote its online LLM Program in the US and comparative law for students who reside outside of the US. The program is less than one year old but it already has 50 students from 21 countries. And with a commitment as a prime sponsor for the 2013 IBA Convention, officials at Washington University must see a bright future for their LLM program.
 
In the United States, Washington University Law School, located in St. Louis, is one of the nation's top ranked law schools according to rankings by US News and World Report. Koby says that the school did not want to risk its reputation on anything other than a "top shelf program." Small class size and the participation of the law school's full time faculty is a hallmark of the Washington University offering. And rather than recruit students just out of law school, Washington University is looking for individuals who have a solid legal practice but absent Skype technology would not have the opportunity to study at a US law school.
 
Students must be proficient in English and they must also undergo a Skype interview says Koby. Where US law schools’ overseas endeavors can be high cost and risky, the Washington University strategy is premised on the Skype technology which brings students to St. Louis - or Boston - without boarding an airplane. Whether other law schools will follow the Washington University lead remains a question. But here in Boston where Harvard has reigned as king of legal training, Washington University is leaving its mark.