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University of Iowa News Release


Sept. 15, 2009

Law school celebrates 25 years of summer program in Arcachon, France

The University of Iowa College of Law is celebrating the 25th anniversary of its Arcachon program, where law students can study international law in a quiet beach town in France.

"The increasing globalization of law means that an exposure to international law is important for our graduates' to have successful careers," said Adrien Wing, a UI law professor who directs the program. "Studying in Arcachon gives them an opportunity to not only study international law, but to do so in an international setting."

The program brings 30 to 45 law students to the Mediterranean seaside town for five weeks every summer to study French law, European Union law, Law in the Muslim world, and another course that changes each year. Classes are held in a local hotel conference room and students live in nearby apartments and homes.

"It helps broaden the students' perspectives to gain an understanding of U.S. law in a global context, and to see how other countries look at law," said Wing, who has headed the program for the last 10 years.

The program is the brainchild of a UI law student, Patrick Patelin, who was in the law school's Master's in Law (LLM) program in the early 1980s. A native of Arcachon, Patelin suggested Iowa law students come to his hometown to study international and comparative law.

"He really worked with us to make it happen," Wing said of Patelin, who is now an international lawyer practicing in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Emeritus law professor Paul Neuhauser led the program for 15 years, followed by Wing, who is not only an accomplished international legal scholar, but is also fluent in French.

Arcachon is a town of about 10,000 people when classes are in session (it swells to about 100,000 during the French vacation season, which starts a few days after the Iowa students leave), which makes it an ideal place for the program's participants, Wing said.

"Arcachon is a good place for them to study because it is quiet, safe, and you can walk just about anywhere," she said. "For some, it is their first time outside the U.S., so it's a neat place to make the transition to a foreign culture. On the weekends, students can visit large cities like Paris or Bordeaux and we are located close enough to visit the Basque country of northern Spain as well."

Aside from classes, the students also visit the National Judge School and the trial court in nearby Bordeaux, and they receive a guided tour of the Court of Appeals from the court's chief judge. The students are also introduced to life in the area, with tours of Arcachon city and bay, a visit to Europe's tallest dune at Pyla, and a boat cruise. The students also get five days off during the program to visit other sites in Europe.

The program has become so well known that the students become something of celebrities while living there. Local leaders hold a reception for them in city hall, and the students give presentations to the local chapter of the Lafayette Club, which promotes friendly French-American relations. The community also recognized the 25th anniversary this summer with a reception in the city's theater that was attended by local officials.

Following the completion of the coursework, many of the students accompany Wing on a tour for a course that builds upon what the students learned in Arcachon. Recent past visits have been to Turkey and Egypt, and next year, she hopes to visit Israel and Egypt.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Service, 300 Plaza Centre One, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACT: Tom Snee, 319-384-0010 (office), 319-541-8434 (cell),