By Aaron Warnick | Photo Editor
The Duquesne University Law School presented the Dr. John and Liz Murray Excellence in Scholarship award on Tuesday to Learned Hand Professor of Law at Harvard and former U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican Mary Ann Glendon.
Law School Dean Ken Gormley said Glendon was targeted as an early recipient shortly after its announcement at commencement in 2011.
Currently, Glendon is a member of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom and also serves on a five-member Pontifical Commission established by Pope Francis that oversees the Vatican’s financial institution, the Institute for Religious Works.
Glendon specializes in comparative law, a field that studies the similarities, differences and trends of legislation in different countries.
John E. Murray, Chancellor and law professor, former University president and creator of the endowment, presided over a Q&A session following a lecture from Glendon entitled Comparative Law in the Age of Globalization.
“It is apparent that you are doing some tremendously important work,” Murray said.
Glendon began her talk by recounting her early days practicing law in Chicago and having to correct establish lawyers who would embrace the notion that America had the only legal system worth studying.
“’Why would you want to study what other countries do? We have the best here,’” Glendon said, recounting a conversation that she had with a colleague.
During the Q&A session, Glendon said that she believed that the field will continue to grow, even in face of the current national rhetoric on American exceptionalism, a term that has recently circulated in relation to President Barack Obama’s stance on U.S. foreign policy decisions.
“It’s comforting to hear her say that American exceptionalism will not get in the way of embracing comparative law,” third year law student Daniel Conlon said.
Citing uses of comparative law in U.S. Supreme Court decisions and rapid globalization, Glendon said the field of comparative law is rapidly growing, but that there is an important variable on that growth.
“Comparative law offerings are so thin,” Glendon said. “The ability of American courts and legislators to maximize the benefits of [comparative law] will depend on how schools of law will approach the subject [in the future].”
Glendon’s lecture will serve as the basis for the 52nd volume of the Duquesne Law Review. Glendon, as part of the endowment, will be the featured author of the Review.
“There is no greater gift to this University,” Gormley said.
The Comparative Law Symposium edition of the Duquesne Law Review will be published in January 2014 and will feature “other national legal scholars,” according to law school communications director Colleen Derda.
Glendon is the second winner of the award. Judge Richard A. Posner was presented the inaugural award in March 2012.