Northern Illinois University

Northern Today

Law school welcomes French students
from University Montesquieu-Bordeaux

September 8, 2008

NIU’s College of Law is once again hosting a delegation of French law students and professors for a three-week program titled “Introduction to the American Legal System.”

Nineteen law students and two professors arrived Aug. 28 from the University Montesquieu-Bordeaux IV in Agen, France.

Nineteen law students and two professors arrived Aug. 28 from the University Montesquieu-Bordeaux IV in Agen, France. Through classes and visits to various legal institutions, the purpose of the program is to provide the French students with a basic understanding of the American legal system and the ways in which it is different from their own.

This is the second year that NIU College of Law professors David Gaebler and Daniel Reynolds coordinated the program in cooperation with the NIU Division of International Programs.

“We hosted the French law students last year for the first time, and the program was a resounding success,” Gaebler said. “The French students and faculty were especially pleased and impressed by the time and attention they received from state and federal judges whose courts we visited and by the opportunity to meet and get to know our own NIU law students.”

Members of the French delegation will attend lectures taught by NIU College of Law faculty that focus on the structure of American court systems, the relationship between federal and state legal systems and the institutional structure and procedural dimensions of the American criminal justice system. The group also will take a number of field trips, including visits to the Illinois State Capitol, Illinois Supreme Court and the United States Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.

“This year’s schedule allows more interaction between the French and NIU College of Law students, thereby increasing the opportunity for dialogue,” Gaebler said. “It is our hope that as the students learn more about each other’s legal systems, they will gain insight and perspective regarding their own as well.”

This exchange program comes about from a 13-year relationship between NIU College of Law and the University Montesquieu-Bordeaux IV.

Since 1996, more than 200 NIU law students have participated in a summer study abroad program to Agen, France, in cooperation with the University of Bordeaux. The six-week program introduces NIU law students to France’s civil law system as well as to the European union legal system.

“Our French hosts at the University of Bordeaux have always been very gracious and generous to our NIU students,” Reynolds said, “and this gives us a chance to reciprocate.”