Comparative law methodology & American legal culture: obstacles and opportunities
Despite its historic presence in American law, comparative law was, until recently, largely the preserve of a few specialists, often emigres from Europe.1 On occasion, a legal scholar from another field would consider and employ comparative methods, but for the most part American legal scholars focused only on domestic legal matters from domestic perspectives. If they did tend to look further afield, it was usually to consider legal issues in England or, less often, in other common law or English language legal systems. Practitioners and policy makers were not any more sophisticated, and, in fact, were likely even more parochial. Today, however, certain factors, chief among them the accelerating rate of globalization, are forcing a change in perspective throughout the legal community. American legal scholars, practitioners, and policy makers are increasingly considering how legal issues are handled in other legal systems - through an international, foreign, and comparative ("ICF') law lens.2 That movement is not taking place, however, without controversy 3 and, of greater relevance to this article, without some levels of misunderstanding, inaccuracy, and confusion.