Francisco de Elizalde on Comparative Law Methodology

@IE University

Francisco de Elizalde, a full-time professor at IE University and founder and director of the IE Legal Clinic, tells us his opinion on Comparative Law Methodology.

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.

Francisco de Elizalde is a full-time professor at IE University, where he is also the founder and director of the Legal Clinic. He received his LL.B and LL.M from the Complutense University of Madrid and IE Law School respectively, and his PhD from the University of Navarra. He specializes in Civil Law, particularly with regard to Contract Law and Real Right.

Before joining IE University, Francisco gained invaluable experience as a visiting professor at Koç University in Turkey; FGV São Paulo in Brazil; and at the Law Schools Global League. Alongside this, he has acted as a visiting scholar at the University of Cambridge in the Center for Legal Studies and at Harvard Law School.

Francisco is a member of the European Law Institute and has taken part in a number of Spanish and European research projects. He has also conducted further research at the Max Planck Institute in Hamburg and represented national and multinational companies for several years as a lawyer at Garrigues’ Litigation and Arbitration Department.

We spoke with him to uncover his approach and insights regarding his teaching at IE University.

What courses do you teach at IE University?

I teach Contracts and Property Law at the undergraduate level, and Derecho Civil in the Master en Derecho Transnacional de los Negocios.

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

This depends on the degree. At the undergraduate level, I deliver interactive theoretical sessions on several topics that are core to the subject. Then the students have to solve cases which bring those topics together. At the master’s level, I ask students to solve complex cross-border cases that are then discussed in class.

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

I believe it is an incredible asset. Law forms part of a country’s culture and also the culture of regions around the world that share similar history and values. Students show an intuitive approach to law that is often dependent on their cultural backgrounds. I remember the reaction of a British year one LL.B student when I explained an aspect of that legal system. She said, “Oh, that solution is so English.”

This is very interesting for discussions in class. It helps to understand the richness of the law in a broader context and justifies the use of comparative law as a realistic approach to law in a global context. This allows you to identify a common core between jurisdictions while respecting peculiarities. 

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

IE University students are curious, proactive, and don’t take much for granted. They challenge the solutions that legal systems provide and are very creative in offering an alternative answer. Comparative law fosters this mindset as solutions vary between jurisdictions. IE University students see this as normal—which is not the case of students from degrees that only focus on a single jurisdiction.

Unlike studying a specific national law, comparative law is a window of opportunity for creative minds. In a legal context that is global and constantly changing, a creative mind, equipped with solid legal knowledge from various jurisdictions, provides IE University students with a competitive advantage.

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The mark of an outstanding legal professional in today’s landscape is their ability to perform on the world stage. With Francisco’s focus on comparative law, students are better prepared to negotiate multiple systems across jurisdictions and stand out as international legal professionals.