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Comparative scholars give Tulane conference global flair

April 19, 2016


Tulane Law Professor Sally Brown Richardson, the current Gordon Gamm Faculty Scholar, was instrumental in bringing the Global Conference of the American Society of Comparative Law’s Younger Comparativists Committee to campus, drawing more than 100 scholars from around the world.

Photo by Linda P. Campbell


Vice Dean Ron Scalise moderates a panel on teaching comparative law, with University of Pittsburg Law Professor Vivian Curran and Tulane Law Professor Vernon Palmer participating, during the YCC Global Conference March 19.

Photo by Tracie Morris Schaefer

In one Tulane Law classroom on a Friday afternoon, a professor from Hong Kong explained an innovative death penalty alternative: reconciliation agreements between killers and victims’ families.

Elsewhere, a Taiwanese scholar discussed a lawsuit filed after his country’s national health agency shared patients’ personal medical information.

Down the hall, a diverse international group reviewed constitutional change procedures in Colombia, Brazil and India.

Tulane Law School’s first hosting of the Global Conference of the American Society of Comparative Law’s Younger Comparativists Committee encompassed two dozen sessions like these spread across two days, with more than 100 scholars comparing and contrasting legal developments occurring around the world. Young scholars from more than 80 institutions worldwide presented their work on topics ranging from corporate reorganization in China to secession from the European Union, from international frameworks for protecting cities’ cultural spaces to the reform of secured credit laws in France, Belgium, Italy and Quebec.

“Comparative law scholars transcend international boundaries at the Global Conference,” said Tulane Law Professor Sally Brown Richardson, the Gordon Gamm Faculty Scholar and the first Tulane professor on the Younger Comparativists Committee executive board. “The conference is about bringing scholars together from all over the world, to share our work, to debate ideas and, in doing so, to improve the discipline of comparative law.”

See a conference photo album.


A gift from Tulane Law alumnus Gordon Gamm (L ’70) and his wife, Grace, to support early-career faculty enabled the law school to host the YCC Global Conference.

Committee Chair Ozan Varol, a professor at Lewis and Clark Law School, called the gathering “by all indications, YCC’s best conference to date.”

A key component was financial support from alumnus Gordon Gamm (L ’70) and his wife, Grace, who in 2014 created the faculty scholar award to promote the work of early-career professors. The resources enabled Tulane to host the conference, free of charge to all participants.

Conferences typically are expensive to attend, particularly when international travel is involved. But attendees only had to pay for their travel and hotels, with Tulane covering other costs, including meals and materials.

“The funding from the Gamm Faculty Scholar position was instrumental to the success of the conference,” Richardson said. “Without the Gamms’ support, far fewer scholars would have been financially able to attend.”

The Gamms also took part in the activities, with Gordon Gamm actively engaging in all the panels he attended. A retired trial lawyer from a family of Tulane lawyers, Gamm practiced in Kansas City, Missouri, and Boulder, Colorado, and established forums for debating ideas across fields including journalism, anthropology, economics, religious criticism and law.  

The work of Tulane faculty was on display throughout the conference: Professor Jim Gordley, who chairs the editorial board for the American Journal of Comparative Law, moderated panels on comparative contract and property law. Richardson, a property law specialist who also writes for the PropertyProf Blog, and Professor Saru Matambanadzo presented articles. And Vice Dean Ron Scalise, chair of the American Society of Comparative Law’s finance committee, and Professor Vernon Palmer, co-director of the Eason Weinmann Center for International and Comparative Law, took part in a plenary panel on teaching and writing in comparative law.

Dean David Meyer said that hosting the conference “allows Tulane to highlight on a global stage our strength in comparative law. Given today’s increasingly internationalized economy, lawyers must have an understanding of the law of other jurisdictions. At Tulane, we have always recognized this.”

University of Pittsburgh Professor Vivian Curran, vice president of the American Society of Comparative Law, called the conference “an extraordinary opportunity” to see active young scholars at work.

“Professor Richardson’s superb organizational skills brought together a vast array of talented young comparativists and highlighted the ever-growing importance of the field to our globalizing world. She herself is a young comparativist carrying on the great tradition of excellence in comparative law of Tulane Law School.”


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