Bart Wauters on Comparative Law Methodology

@IE University

After several years as a European Legal History and Legal Thought professor, Bart Wauters tells us his opinion on the importance of Comparative Law at IE University.

In today’s globalized economic context, future graduates need to prepare for life as effective leaders on the world stage—and it’s the responsibility of institutions of higher education to make sure that happens. At IE University, we work hard to develop dynamic learning approaches to provide talented individuals with the insights and resources to effect lasting change.

In all our law programs, our world-class faculty go beyond the confines of any single legal system to mirror the reality of international law. This high-impact methodology allows students to interact with the current trends, insights, and challenges present in key international legal jurisdictions to develop a wholly global outlook.

The current global context calls for inspirational professors to train lawyers of international renown. Below, we get the opportunity to hear from one of them.

Bart Wauters

Bart Wauters got his PhD in Legal History from KY Leuven in Belgium. He gained extensive experience in his role as a Public Affairs and Communication Expert at Grayling, where he designed and implemented campaigns for both local and multinational clients. For the last six years, he has been a member of the Board of Directors at Miko.

Bart has an impressive record of publications in literary journals. Most recently in 2017, he published a book, co-authored alongside IE University professor Marco De Benito, entitled: The History of Law in Europe: an Introduction.

We spoke with him to discover how he brings this extensive insight and knowledge to his classes at IE University.

What courses do you teach at IE University?

I currently teach two courses, European Legal History (ELH) and Legal Thought at the university.

How do you approach the methodology of comparative law in your course?

In my ELH course, I basically give an introduction to the historical development of the two legal families (civil law systems and common law systems, which together cover approximately 90% of the world’s population). I explain the reasons for this development and show how this development has deeply influenced the methodology and legal principles of the law in both systems. I use many case studies to illustrate the theory.

An IE Law School graduate is a young professional with a global mind. The comparative law methodology obviously contributes to developing a global mindset.

What is, in your opinion, the added value of teaching with the comparative law methodology in an international environment?

The law is a very detailed subject. It is sometimes so detailed that it becomes difficult to detect and keep in mind the fundamental principles and ideas that often lay behind technical concepts and expressions. The comparative law methodology helps to transcend the level of technical detail because it forces students to ask themselves why certain solutions to similar problems are different or similar in different countries. Understanding the principles leads to a deeper understanding of the law, which in turn helps to appreciate its beauty, and eventually, love it.

Furthermore, the comparative law methodology also enables students to communicate with lawyers from the other side of the world. They understand that the concerns of a lawyer in Singapore or Jakarta are different from those of a lawyer in Buenos Aires or New York. As they understand their problems, finding common ground is easier. Knowing the principles behind the solutions allows students who had the benefit of this methodology to acquire the technical, in-depth knowledge of almost every legal system in the world, and relatively quickly.

How would you define an IE Law School graduate? And how does the methodology of comparative law contribute to this profile?

An IE Law School graduate is a young professional with a global mind. The comparative law methodology obviously contributes to developing a global mindset. In addition, I think that it also helps to shape their professional attitude. The methodology forces students to think about legal principles and then to apply them independently. This independent, critical thinking shapes the professional attitude of our students.

Bart’s detailed approach when exploring the background of legal concepts helps him challenge his students to develop insightful new perspectives as they deal with international law. It’s through dynamic professors like Bart that IE University is able to produce young professionals with the ability to succeed in the current global legal landscape.