National Center for Commercial Law Projects
A primary focus of the Washburn Law/Free University of Tbilisi relationship has been on development of a National Center for Commercial Law. Four faculty members from FUT visited Washburn Law in August 2011 for training on teaching methods, and a Washburn Law delegation, led by Dean Tom Romig, visited Tbilisi in March 2012 to formally launch the Center and to sign a Memorandum of Understanding between the two schools. Washburn Law Professor Amy Westbrook traveled to Georgia to conduct an intensive intersession course on International Business Transactions and Transactional Drafting, and, in the process, developed a set of course materials that will be used by Georgian faculty in future administrations of the course. Several Washburn Law faculty members participated in a National Symposium on Commercial Law in March 2012 that will be an annual event each spring in Tbilisi. Students and practitioners in Georgia participated in a commercial law writing competition, authoring articles on timely commercial law topics for the inaugural issue of the Georgia Commercial Law Journal.
In May 2013, the second annual National Symposium on Commercial Law and accompanying Commercial Law Week was held at FUT. Five Washburn Law faculty members participated in the symposium, with four of them traveling to Tbilisi specifically for the well-attended events. During their visit, Washburn Law faculty (professors William Foster, Mary Ramirez, Joe Mastrosimone, Janet Thompson Jackson, and Andrea Boyack) engaged students, faculty, and members of the bar in a series of open lectures on topics related to their expertise. Washburn Law faculty members met with FUT and East West Management Institute (EWMI) representatives concerning opportunities for ongoing collaboration in commercial law and participants met with EWMI and FUT representatives to discuss sustainability of the Washburn Law-FUT partnership after expiration of the USAID grant. The meeting was highly productive and yielded great enthusiasm for continued collaboration, as well as new ideas for learning enrichment such as developing study abroad programs for both FUT and Washburn Law students, collaborative academic writing efforts, continuing education programs for Georgian practitioners, and future intensive course opportunities.Following the successful Commercial Law Week and accompanying symposium, Washburn participants in that program worked alongside their Georgian co-presenters to develop essays and articles for the Georgia Commercial Law Journal. Those essays should be completed during October and will be in production for publication by year’s end.
FUT has been planning for the spring 2014 launch of their commercial law certificate program. Washburn Law has identified several of its faculty focused on commercial law to serve in an advisory capacity during preparations for and execution of that program. Planning continues for winter and summer school courses to be held during 2014, and Washburn Law has identified potential faculty candidates to co-teach those courses.
Activity in the FUT clinic continues to expand, and Washburn Law faculty are working with FUT representatives on a number of initiatives related to that, including identifying projects for supervised student research initiatives. FUT has made its first request regarding student research in the commercial law sector, and Professor Boyack will supervise a team of students conducting research on finance lease issues. Planning continues for open lectures, with the latest request centered around legislative drafting. Washburn Law Professor Reggie Robinson will deliver that lecture, to take place before year’s end. Discussions continue regarding other potential initiatives, including collaborative class sessions, development of commercial law teaching materials, and future study abroad exchanges for FUT and Washburn Law students.