Foreign Lawyers Learn Introduction to U.S. Law from Renowned Judge Rosemary Barkett


Judge Rosemary Barkett

Judge Rosemary Barkett teaching a class

Miami Law has had the distinction to welcome the legendary Judge Rosemary Barkett as an adjunct professor teaching Introduction to U.S. Law to the incoming class of foreign-trained lawyers pursuing their LL.M. degrees

Barkett is currently a judge on the Iran-United States Claims Tribunal at The Hague, after an illustrious career on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit and as chief justice of the Florida Supreme Court, and its first woman, and first Arab American (of Hispanic descent). Her parents emigrated to Mexico before her birth.

Specialized Course for Foreign-Trained Attorneys: Civil vs. Common Law

The judge’s course is for international LL.M. students only. All international (foreign-trained) students from Miami Law’s various LL.M. programs take the course, which starts during a special orientation designed for foreign lawyers prior to the beginning of the semester so that students can learn the fundamentals of U.S. law before they attend regular classes. 

“The challenge with this course is to explain the law of the United States to foreign students who come mostly from a civil law system,” Barkett said in an interview. “I’ve learned the hard way from being on the Iran-United States Tribunal and from doing private arbitration that understanding the difference between common law lawyers and civil law lawyers is significant.” 

The two-credit course meets throughout August and provides an overview of the U.S. legal system and is specifically designed for international students who completed their legal education outside of the U.S.

Students Benefit from Judge Barkett’s International Perspective

“Judge Barkett is an amazing professor,” said Ana Garcia Bodan, an LL.M. in International Law candidate from Nicaragua. “Her knowledge and the way she shares her wonderful professional experiences will help us throughout our careers and our lives.”

There are approximately 70 students enrolled, representing 30 countries on five continents.

"Although she is a lawyer with an exceptional international standing, Judge Barkett always appears humble and interacts with us at eye level,” said Daniel Schwiete, an LL.M. in International Law student from Germany. 

Dean’s Fellow Assists with the Course

Ivan Bracho, who serves as Judge Barkett’s Dean’s Fellow and plans to graduate with his International Arbitration J.D./LL.M. joint degree in December 2019. The Miami Law/Young ICCA Scholarship recipient says: “It is truly an honor to be able to assist Judge Barkett as a Dean’s Fellow. She has held very important and demanding positions on several courts and is extremely knowledgeable. 

“Personally, having the opportunity to have meaningful discussions about the class and the law in general with her has been an unforgettable experience.”  

Miami Law Dean’s Fellows organize additional study sessions to provide students with a comfortable, informal, yet invaluable opportunity to ask questions and further delve into the foundational subject matter.

Barkett, who lives in Coral Gables, agreed to take on “the totality of the law in the United States” as part of her summer vacation from the court.

“Every time I teach a course or a seminar or lecture, I really am the student,” she said. “You become even more of a student than the students because you must understand the subject with more depth. Really teaching is being a student, which is one of the reasons I like teaching so much – it forces me to stretch.”

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