FCIL Advanced Legal Research – Connecting Law Students to the World of Law

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Foreign, Comparative, and International Law (FCIL) poses all sorts of challenges for U.S. law students and practitioners. Foreign and comparative legal issues involve the law of other jurisdictions or types of foreign law (e.g., domestic relations law) compared across foreign jurisdictions. International law, on the other hand, is the law of relationships between and among nations, international organizations (e.g., the United Nations; the European Union), and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). FCIL terminology gets even more confusing when “international law” (the common law usage) gets broken down into “public international law” (civil law argot for international law) and “private international law” (the civil law usage for the U.S. concepts of “choice of law” or “conflict of law”).

This semester, FCIL Librarian and instructor Don Ford has invited two law professionals from Nigeria to discuss legal Nigerian legal materials and practices. Professor Ahmed Garba, currently a visiting scholar at the University of Iowa College of Law, will discuss Nigerian religious law issues and resources.  Ms. Yemisi Dina, Head of Public Services in the Law Library at York University’s Osgood Hall Law School (Toronto), will speak about her project to digitize the decisions of Nigerian customary law courts. 

Students in the class will not only gain a world perspective from these guest speakers; they are also creating electronic research guides for future researchers. These guides are being published in the widely used “LibGuide” format, produced by the web vendor Springshare. Each student will produce one LibGuide on a specific foreign jurisdiction or a comparative law topic, and one on an international law topic. All of the student LibGuides will focus on primary law materials and the related monograph and journal holdings in the University of Iowa Law Library’s FCIL Collection, one of the country’s top academic FCIL collections. 

The LibGuides will be publications that the students can list on their CVs. In addition, the searching and analytical skills the students learn will prove invaluable in their future work, whether with law firms, courts, or NGOs.