I haven’t blogged about my new job much yet. I’ve been there for over a month now and am settling in quite nicely. The work I’ve been given to do is pretty interesting and a lot more varied than the work I did during pupillage. A lot more client contact, more teamwork, and more hands-on work.
It’s mainly litigation based, which is what I love. I’ve taken over the day to day management of a couple of small arbitrations, which is good practice and fun. Every now and again I get some transactional work which breaks things up nicely.
Today I was given an awesome task: analysing the results of questionnaires given to lawyers in several other countries about law and regulation of commodities trading. This interested me because I’m keen on the theory of comparative law and this was a great example of how comparative law should be done and how it can yield results which are practically useful.
There are basically two ways of doing comparative law, one is to take a particular legal doctrine in one country and compare it with the equivalent doctrine in another country. This is interesting because it shows you how different legal systems have evolved similar principles and doctrines. But it doesn’t really provide you with an effective comparison of how different legal systems react to a particular factual situation, because there is no guarantee that different legal systems will apply an equivalent doctrine that is easily translatable. A classic example is the doctrine of good faith found in Civil Law legal systems, famously absent from Common Law legal systems (such as England & Wales). Despite the absence of this doctrine, it has been demonstrated that Common Law legal systems make up for the absence of a doctrine of good faith in other ways, and generally get to the same result as Civil Law systems in most cases.
So a different technique of comparative law evolved, where you look at the legal systems response as a whole to different factual situations, or “legal formants”. This was the technique that Fabrizio Cafaggi, the professor I studied under in Italy, gets really excited about. This is the way that you really get a view of the practical differences of legal systems.
And that’s the theory that has been adopted for the work I have been asked to help with at my job. The questionnaires basically look at the legal and regulatory challenges facing a company who wishes to trade a particular commodity in different places around the world. After the job is done they’ll have a little cheatsheet for each country and will be able to quickly find out how that particular country reacts to the situations that they are dealing with. Really useful for them. Really useful for me too, because hopefully in the process I’ll find out quite a lot about the legal systems in countries that I’ve never experienced before.
Anyone who happens to be reading my blog is unlikely to give two hoots about comparative law (this blog, in keeping with most blogs around, is intended to be more of a personal indulgence than actually acquiring a readership), but on the off chance, there are some good references for further reading on the theory of it in my Masters’ thesis in the footnotes to page 4. Reading my Masters’ thesis itself of course, carries a substantial health warning, and is unlikely to be of interest to anyone except the most masochistic.