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The University of Texas School of Law has named a new chair for one of its most prominent graduates. A Nov. 4 public lecture at the law school celebrated the establishment of the Kay Bailey Hutchison Chair in Latin American Studies — named for Texas’ senior U.S. senator, a 1967 graduate of the UT law school. Speakers expected for the lecture included Hutchison, a member of the U.S. Senate since 1993; Donald Evans, U.S. Department of Commerce secretary; and Luis Ernesto Derbez, Mexico’s foreign affairs secretary. Bill Powers, dean of the law school, says the school has raised more than $1 million through contributions from alumni to endow the chair. Powers says the new initiative — the Center for Latin American Law and a programmatic chair — will build on the extensive program that the University of Texas at Austin and the law school have on Latin America. “It’s going to be the centerpiece around which we coordinate and support our efforts on Latin American law,” Powers says. “I think our hemisphere is where our focus should be,” says Hutchison, who selected the subject for the chair. Hutchison says she believes the future of the U.S. economy is going to be based on strong relationships throughout this hemisphere. Lawyers need to be trained so that they understand differences in the legal systems and cultural differences between this country and Latin American countries and can represent clients throughout this hemisphere, she says. “It’s getting more and more difficult to practice law in your own little corner,” says Patricia Hansen, a professor and chairperson of the International Programs Committee at UT law school. “The globalization of law is a fact,” Hansen says. “But I think we have a lot to learn from what’s going on in Latin America.” Hansen says the chair and new Center for Latin American Law will provide resources to build on a number of programs already in existence at the law school. Those include student and faculty exchanges. UT currently has student exchanges through which the law school can send up to four students a year to the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul in Porta Allegre in Brazil; the Universidade Federal do Para, located in the Amazon region of Brazil; and the University of Buenos Aires and University of Torcuato di Tella, both in Argentina, Hansen says. The school also has sent students on an ad hoc basis to law schools in Mexico, she says. Through the exchange programs, Hansen says, the law school receives students from Latin American countries. She says the school offers a special course that introduces foreign students to law in the United States and explains this country’s jury system to them. Hansen says UT law faculty also participate in exchange programs, including symposia on U.S. law held each summer on the campus in Porta Allegre. Antonio Benjamin, attorney general for the state of Sao Paolo in Brazil, also teaches international comparative environmental law one semester each year at UT law school, she says. One problem with the faculty exchanges, Hansen says, is it’s difficult for people who have lives and careers to make lengthy commitments to participate in programs in this country. Hansen says efforts are being made to bring more people to the law school for conferences and symposia that take less of their time. Other efforts are aimed at trying to coordinate classes over the Internet so that students in a UT law school class can hear what students in another country have to say about the legal system in this country, Hansen says. Hansen says the new chair also will be useful in the law school’s outreach to the judiciary and legal practitioners. The law school serves as headquarters for the Texas-Mexico Bar Association. As the law school expands its focus on Latin American law, efforts are under way to expand trade between the United States and Latin American countries. Hansen says U.S. officials and representatives of seven countries have signed the Central American Free Trade Agreement. Hutchison says she thinks the U.S. Congress will act on the agreement in 2005.

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