RESEARCHING FOREIGN, INTERNATIONAL AND COMPARATIVE LAW
Professor Thomas French
Purpose of the Course:
The course has been designed to give students a working knowledge of
legal bibliography and research methods, both in traditional print sources and in
electronic formats, for conducting research in the laws of foreign countries,
international law and comparative law.
Content and Methodology:
The course will focus on the conceptual structures and pragmatic
applications of internet resources, specialized legal, non-legal and cross-
disciplinary databases and publications. Advanced training in Westlaw and Lexis
will be offered as well. Particular attention will be paid to primary source
materials such as treaties, foreign codes , and cases from international tribunals
and foreign courts. Special topics such as scholarly publishing in law, finding
treaties, transnational business sources, international organizations and foreign
law will be discussed, connecting the suitability of various kinds of genres or
research materials to specific practical tasks. The course will be a skills course
in the format of a seminar. Students will read about sources, discuss them in
class and use them to answer specific questions geared to illustrate the
organization and usefulness of the sources. Weekly reading assignments in
texts, legal research manuals and representative literature will be required. In
addition, short written exercises and class presentations that respond to readings
and solving of practical research problems will also be required, along with the
preparation of a substantial research guide on the topic of the student’s own
Course Goals: The general goal of the course is to help students negotiate the
complex demands of a rapidly-changing legal research environment and
globalization and to enable students to develop competencies, skills and
appropriate methods for conducting effective and responsible research. Specific
1. To acquaint students with the fundamentals of various legal
2. To introduce students to several different types of research
sources, print and electronic, useful for researching questions
of foreign, international and comparative law.
3. To help students to become proficient in the use of non-U.S.
legal research sources.
4. Provide students with an in-depth look at the legal systems of
particular foreign jurisdictions.
5. To allow students the opportunity to do in-depth research on a
topic of their choice concerning international, foreign or
6. Provide students with the opportunity to present a short talk to
the class on the legal system of a particular country.
7. To review and enhance students’ understanding and knowledge
of U.S. legal research—especially when useful for researching
international law problems.
8. To broaden students’ awareness of internationalization and
globalization by affording them an opportunity to discuss
international and foreign legal issues as they relate to
researching and practicing law in the United States.
9. To enhance students’ research, analysis, speaking and writing
10. Improve students’ ability to use libraries to conduct professional
Grading: Final Written Project (Pathfinder) 65%
Oral Presentation and Guide 15%
Written Exercises 10%
Quality of Class Involvement 10%
The pathfinder will receive letter grades. The oral presentation, class
involvement and written exercises will receive grades of -,, or + .
Assignments handed in late will be marked down.
Attendance and Lateness: You will be permitted five absences from class. It
is assumed that there is a good reason for your missing a class; therefore there
is no need to offer “explanations” or “excuses” as to why you may have missed a
However, if you do miss a class, I will assume that you will do the following:
1. Contact at least one classmate to learn what happened in the
class on the day that you were absent and to receive any of the
materials distributed in class on that day, including assignments
2. On the day you return to class, be prepared to initiate a
discussion relevant to the material being worked on in that day’s
Being late or unprepared for class may be charged as an absence at the
discretion of the professor. As a general rule, for every two times a student is
late for class or unprepared s/he will be charged with an absence. If you are
charged with more than five absences your final grade for the course will be
lowered one full letter grade for any additional day missed.
In compliance with section 504 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA),
Syracuse University is committed to ensure that “no otherwise qualified individual
with a disability…shall, solely by reason of disability, be excluded from
participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under
any program or activity…” If you feel that you are a student who may need
academic accommodations due to a disability, then you should immediately
register with the Office of Disability Services (ODS) at 804 University Ave., Room
309 3rd floor, 315-443-4498 or 315-443-1371 (TDD Only). ODS is the Syracuse
University office that authorizes special accommodations for students with
disabilities. Prior to registering with the ODS, students in the College of Law
should see Margery Conner, Associate Dean of Student
Policy on Student Academic Work:
In compliance with the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, works
in all media produced by students as part of their course participation at
Syracuse University may be used for educational purposes, provided that the
course syllabus makes clear that such use may occur. It is understood that
registration for and continued enrollment in a course where such use of student
works is announced constitute permission by the student.
After such a course has been completed, any further use of students works will
meet one of the following conditions: (1) the work will be rendered anonymous
through the removal of all personal identification of the work’s
creator/originator(s); or (2) the creator/originator (s) written permission will be
Student’s pathfinders as part of the course requirements will constitute a
student’s work subject to this policy.
There is no required text for this course, instead students will be expected
to read representative literature in print and online as assigned.
Basic web use skills are assumed, anyone not having them must notify the
professor before the end of the first week of classes.