BUFFALO, N.Y. -- For the second time, a University at Buffalo
Law School class will travel to Thailand to study its unique legal
Twelve students are scheduled to travel to the Southeast Asian
nation, to a region in the foothills of the Himalayas, from Jan. 7
to 24. They will be accompanied by UB Distinguished Service
Professor David M. Engel, a specialist in interdisciplinary studies
of law and society in the U.S. and other countries, and who has
studied and written about Thai law for more than 30 years. The
group will be joined by Engel's spouse, Jaruwan Engel, a
professional translator, author and Thai language instructor.
"It helps students to understand the unique features of the
American legal system if they are exposed to a civil law system,
which is what most of the world has, as compared with the U.S.
common law system," says Engel. "When they see how Thai law works
in its cultural and social context and see other possibilities,
other ways of doing things, it may inspire creativity when they're
working in the U.S. legal system.
"No matter what career people pursue, we live in a globalized
world and a globalized economy, and students are going to come into
contact with people and organizations that are not U.S.-based," he
adds. "It behooves us to understand how people from other countries
and cultures work and think. A trip like this changes peoples'
understanding of themselves. It makes them more confident and more
The learning experience serves as a "bridge course," one of the
UB Law School's January offerings between full semesters. In
addition to extensive pre-travel reading and study, and a post-trip
writing requirement, a key component of the course is a
two-and-a-half-week residence in Chiangmai, Thailand, where
students will engage in structured "conversations" with village
chiefs, Buddhist monks, Thai law professors, students, attorneys
and representatives of non-governmental organizations. In addition,
students will visit important historical and legal sites in
northern Thailand. The in-country experience will be arranged in
cooperation with the Chiangmai University Law School, a longtime
exchange partner with UB Law School.
"We tailor the course to the interests of students, and this
year we're including some things we did not include last time,"
says Engel, who speaks fluent Thai. New additions, he says, include
a visit to a hill tribe village; a meeting with Burmese refugees to
highlight issues concerning refugees and migrant workers; and
discussions with the director of an agency that works on human
trafficking issues. In addition, because some of the students bring
an interest in international business, the course will include a
session on foreign direct investment in Thailand and a look at
multinational corporations that are establishing factories
The Engels are co-authors of a book about Thai legal culture,
"Tort, Custom and Karma: Globalization and the Decline of Law in
Thailand," forthcoming from Stanford University Press.
Since its founding in 1887, the University at Buffalo Law School
-- the State University of New York system's only law school -- has
established an excellent reputation and is widely regarded as a
leader in legal education. Its cutting-edge curriculum provides
both a strong theoretical foundation and the practical tools
graduates need to succeed in a competitive marketplace, wherever
they choose to practice. A special emphasis on interdisciplinary
studies, public service and opportunities for hands-on clinical
education makes UB Law unique among the nation's premier public law
The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive
public university, a flagship institution in the State University
of New York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus.
UB's more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests
through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional
degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a
member of the Association of American Universities.