Meeting with Pr Jorge Esquirol

Meeting with Pr Jorge Esquirol

Visiting Professor in Sciences Po Law School (2021-2022)
  • Pr Jorge EsquirolPr Jorge Esquirol

Can you describe your academic and profeSsional background?

I grew up in Florida -- and there I had a great French teacher in school. That positive learning experience had a big impact on my life. I went away to college, to Georgetown University, and studied finance and economics. Law school and my doctorate were at Harvard. I clerked for a federal district court judge in Miami and then off to a big law firm in New York City. Law practice was intense. I worked on project finance, sovereign debt restructuring and Eurobond offerings. But, I was lured to academics shortly thereafter. I started out as an administrator at Harvard Law School, working as the director of academic affairs for the Graduate Program. David Kennedy had recently been named faculty director, and I had the good fortune of working with him on that project for five exceptional years.

My first teaching job was at Northeastern University School of Law, which is a great place in so many ways. I am glad to see that Sciences Po has an exchange program with them, and I would encourage students to take advantage of it. I was then recruited to help start the first public law school in South Florida, at the Miami campus of the Florida state university system. The Florida International University College of Law was founded with the express mission of expanding opportunities for under-represented groups in the legal profession. It is also poised in the heart of cosmopolitan Miami and its extensive international connections, especially with Latin America. It was an offer I could not turn down. I started as the school’s founding international programs director and one of a handful of founding faculty members.

Beyond teaching in Miami, I frequently guest teach abroad especially in Latin America and Europe. And, I keep a pretty busy schedule of conferences and presentations – most of which went online in the past year and a half. But, I am ecstatic to have been able to come in person this year as a visiting professor to Sciences Po.

This academic year, you are a Visiting Professor in Sciences Po Law School, can you tell us more about your stay?  

I am keeping busy. This fall semester I am teaching a course and a seminar: one in English, the other in French. The course is on comparative law and my particular approach to the subject. The class surveys a number of different types of comparative law prevalent in the world today – in international financial institutions, regional organizations, national legal practice in the U.S., in Latin America, and others. It makes sense to me to think in terms of types of comparative law and their uses rather than the more traditional focus on methods. As for the seminar, its focus is on the French tradition of comparative law. It highlights the political and intellectual projects of the founders of modern comparative law and mid-century diffusion of their ideas. That approach continues to have significant effects today in transnational litigation and international arbitration. Next semester I will be teaching a course on the globalization of commercial law. It focuses on the geopolitics behind different models of commercial regulation. 

Beyond that I am participating in a bunch of events. Last October, I gave a talk at the Faculty Seminar on the social in Fascist Italy. I have also joined forces with Professor Muir-Watt and Professor Alviar García and have been contributing to the Globinar Series on colonialism this year. And, generally, I am happy getting to know many of the students and scholars at Sciences Po.

what are your plans for the future?

I have a number of writing projects in the works. I am just now finishing off my article on the fascist social and the relation of social approaches in law to the future of work. I also have a contribution to a handbook on international law that I am wrapping up. And, I have a few publications in Italian and Spanish that I am currently shepherding through. 

While at Sciences Po this year, I hope to get an article published that I wrote a while back in French. It is meant to acquaint French readers with some of the main ideas of critical legal thinking in the U.S.  I am also thinking of a comparative piece on commercial law. I am considering expanding on my work on Italian secured transactions law to include French law and European Union law. It is a topic that I will be focusing on in my commercial law course next semester at Sciences Po.

Other than that, I hope to continue my hectic life pre-pandemic. I am going back to teaching in Italy for a few weeks this December, which I had been doing on a regular basis. In September 2022, I am hosting the Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy Annual Meeting at FIU – a multi-disciplinary conference on all things Cuba. And, in the fall of 2023, I will be organizing FIU’s sponsorship of the American Society of Comparative Law Annual Meeting in Miami. That year, the topic will be Comparative Comparative Law – the very theme of my course at Sciences Po this semester.

What advice would you give to students of the Sciences Po Law School?

Take advantage of the many rich opportunities the school has to offer – as many as you can. There is an abundance of cultural and intellectual riches open to you in Paris. I know. But, Sciences Po law school is no less culture and wonder. Try to make a point of going to things beyond your classes and required events. Too much to do and too little time, I know. But, you currently have access to experiences that you won’t easily have later on – don’t unthinkingly pass them up.

Jorge EsquirolProfessor of Law at Florida International University and Visiting Professor at Sciences Po Law School (2021-2022)

Recent Works:

  • Ruling the Law: Legitimacy and Failure in Latin American Legal Systems. Cambridge University Press (2019).
  • Il regime della proprietà come strumento della giustizia transizionale, in Rivista Critica del Diritto Privato, Anno XXXVII -4, Italy (2019)
  • Credit Supports for Italian Specialty Products: The Case of Prosciutto and Long-Aged Cheese, 14 FIU Law Review 589 (Spring 2021)
  • Making the Critical Moves: A Top Ten in Progressive Legal Scholarship, 92 Colorado Law Review 1079 (2021)
  • Le strategie intellettuali dell'analisi critica, Rivista Critica del Diritto Privato, Anno XXXIX – 2, Italy (June 2021)
  • Las presunciones y cargas en la restitución de tierras en Colombia, in Perspectivas Interdisciplinarias de la Propiedad en Colombia, Universidad de Los Andes Press, Colombia (2021).
  • Accommodating Access to Property: Land Restitution and Formalization in Colombia, in (Re-)Designing Justice for Plural Societies, Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Routledge Press (forthcoming 2021).
  • Presumptions and Burdens of Land Restitution in Colombia, 31 Journal of Transnational Law and Contemporary Problems __ (forthcoming 2021)
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