Jens Drolshammer

2.42     Jens Drolshammer, The Global Groove of the Harvard Yard – Personal aspects of the person in the “Globalisation and the Anglo-Americanisation of law and legal professions”, in Zeitschrift für Schweizerisches Recht, 2009, p. 317-352

a) Background

The text at hand is the written version of the valedictory lecture of Jens Drolshammer given on the 15th May  2009 at the University of St. Gallen prior to his becoming an emeritus professor. The text has been published as a scientific contribution in the Zeitschrift für Schweizerisches Recht in 2009. A short version of the valedictory lecture has appeared in the Newsletter of the Deutsch-amerikanische Juristenvereinigung (Newsletter of the German-American association of lawyers) in 2010.
In its form, the text is an essay, using the prerogatives of academic freedom. It refers to a collage style, drawing upon among others aspects of the fine arts and music. In view of the complexities of globalization in law the topic is addressed from different perspectives and positions and with different methods. The text is largely based upon observation and experience and is situated in the context of professional activities. The text is written on a “bottom-up” and “facts and issues-driven” basis. The text advocates the institutionalization of grasping globalization in legal education and in legal professions by observing and describing the professional activities of representative legal professionals and their networks and aggregating them into a pattern and overall picture in a holistic fashion. The main title “The Global Grove of Harvard Yard” means to address the spell being cast by the “soft power” of American legal and academic culture over the subject area. The main title is also intended to refer to a metaphor for something that goes even further: an attempt to capture the almost musical phenomenon that certain American educational institutions at times may inspire the participating observer and researcher personally, professionally and academically. The text at hand is an example of a Swiss lawyer and visiting researcher bringing European concepts to the dialogue on emerging concepts of international lawyers at Harvard Law School while at the same time integrating American interdisciplinary thinking in his work of attempting to conceptualize a new international lawyer in the legal process of Globalization.
Jens Drolshammer is an emeritus (2010) professor of law at the University of St. Gallen and a former founding and senior partner of an international commercial law firm in Zurich. He practiced internationally for many years dealing with issues of American law and legal culture. He worked in that context from 1999 to 2008 as a Swiss visiting research professor at the European Law Research Center at Law School of Harvard University, developing a methodology for analyzing effects of globalization. This led to the publication of twenty essays in A Timely Turn to the Lawyer? – Globalization and the Americanization of Law and Legal Professions – Essays (2009).

b) Summary

The text is based upon a quote out of Henrik Ibsen’s Peer Gynt of 1867 and deals with the transformation of people (as professionals) and the forging of new relationships (networks) between them – people who are exposed to internationalization and who manifest themselves professionally in internationalization. The text deals with the life and work situations of professionals and of the associated international networks as key players in the globalized legal world. It is these “New International Lawyers” who in the globalized legal world essentially turn “theories” in to “action”, the core areas being: Person-Situation-Position and Profession. The text is written with an agenda for a subsequent operationalization of a new international lawyer. The vision aimed at is a “College of International Lawyers” with their potentials in the networks under the aspects of “comparability”, “compatibility” and to some extent also “competitivity” –and above all of “interoperability”. The text postulates as the principal thesis – by analogy with Justice Holmes statement that “Law is what the judges say it is” – it is true to say that in the globalized legal world that “Law is what the international lawyers do”.
The text takes a personal approach based upon a Weberian sociological approach with respect to the lawyer, likened to an economic approach with respect to the “entrepreneur”, a political economy approach a more advanced form of “homo oeconomicus”, the “Manager” in management theory as well as in theories on “Leadership” and “Entrepreneurship”.
The text looks over the Atlantic Ocean to the United States and notes that practically and theoretically at American universities the topic is being analyzed and researched from different perspectives and in different forms and different academic spheres. According to the text this is done with interdisciplinary diversity, with a curiosity rooted in reality and with a focus on the theme that is also clearly and strongly anchored in various academic disciplines taking the issue global.
The text notes that the academic exploration of globalization and of people and professionals in a time of globalization is mainly being carried out by Anglo-Americans and is primarily published in English. The asynchronicity and above all the asymmetry of the process of inquiry, research, teaching and professional implementation in professional reality compared to the continent of Europe is remarkable. In its main focus the lecture addresses aspects of the American minds, melodies and rhythm – “play me the song of Pan” – and the influence of the seductive power of the American knowledge base in developing the topic.
The text makes eight statements from a globalization prone mindset, motivation and curiosity. (1)The lead statements are “see it fresh – see it whole – see it as it works” – facts first; (2) The Nobilitating shift to “Behavior” and “Effect” and the special liaison between “Knowledge” and “Activity”; (3) “Take it Global“- a deliberate and self-understood choice of perspective on a meta-level; (4) “The times They Are A-changing” – tackling the challenges of Change; (5) “The Issue-Driven Use of Theory” – the example of the “Situationality and Activity Analysis” of a New International Lawyer as a theoretical platform for a conceptualization of a new international lawyer”; (6) The free jazz of “anything goes” in the Interdisciplinary competition and cooperation of the social sciences in constructing the new international lawyer in Globalization; (7) The inclusion of postmodernism into the Brave New World of Law and Lawyers in Globalization; (8) and the Vision of a “Visible College of International Lawyers”.
The final part of the exploration of the topic uses the art form of “Language Sentences”. The text uses nine quotations as guiding principles and signposts for a discursive approach to the postmodern “reflection space” of the personalistic conceptualization of the New International Lawyer. The quotations come from (1) John Locke; (2) Roscoe Pound; (3) Oscar Wilde; (4) Friedrich Nietzsche; (5) Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.; (6), Satyajit Ray; (7) John Dewey; (8) Richard Rorty; (9) and Gertrude Stein.
Though acknowledging various dark sides of American law as an American legal and academic culture experienced in various functions, the text closes with a call for “joy” dealing with the specific topic with the specific contributions of American legal and other academic disciplines. The topic is treated under the main Leitmotiv of Karl Llewellyn of the essay collection “see it fresh-see it whole-see it as it works” – the Leitmotiv chosen for the Anthology as well.

c) Text

You can find a scan (PDF) of the original text here:

© Prof. Jens Drolshammer,,

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