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Legal traditions of the WTO examined in presentation

December 4, 2009

Colin Picker, professor of law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law, recently presented his paper “Legal Cultural Politics in International Trade: Common v. Civil Law in the World Trade Organization,” as part of the 2009-10 Working Paper Series at the Loyola University New Orleans College of Law.

The paper explores the results of interactions and tensions among the civil and common law state members of the WTO. Picker states that members’ lawyers and officials often reflect the legal tradition in which they were trained. He presents the case that a better understanding of WTO politics can be attained if the impact that these legal traditions have on the organization’s development is identified, specifically within its own Dispute Settlement Body, Secretariat and state missions.

Picker’s research was a result of a combination of personal interviews with WTO participants and analysis of the institutional and legal structures and other legal sources relevant to the WTO. Although his work is at an early stage, he hopes that these early conclusions will help shed light on past and present WTO jurisprudence and politics, as well as suggest future issues that can be expected as the WTO continues to mature. The end result of Picker’s research is to see if the two primary legal traditions, the Civil and the Common Law, are evident within the WTO, and if so, then just what sort of mix of the two is present in the WTO.

The paper is the next stage analysis following from Picker’s earlier work which considered the mix of common and civil law within public international law, which appears in International Law’s Mixed Heritage: A Common/Civil Law Jurisdiction and Beyond the Usual Suspects: Application of the Mixed Jurisdiction Jurisprudence To International Law and Beyond.

Picker received an A.B. from Bowdoin College in 1992 and a juris doctor degree from Yale Law School in 1996. Following law school, he clerked for the Honorable José A. Cabranes of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. During his final year of law school and during his judicial clerkship, he was also an assistant to the first state-to-state North American Free Trade Agreement arbitration panel (U.S. v. Canada).

From 1997 to 2000, he was an associate attorney in the international group of the Washington, D.C., law firm of Wilmer, Cutler and Pickering. He practiced international litigation, international transactions and congressional policy work.

Picker has published widely in the area of international trade and international economic law. He has published in the Yale Journal of International Law, the University of Pennsylvania Journal of International Economic Law, and in the Tulane Law Review.

Picker is one of the founders and currently one of the leaders of the new Society of International Economic Law, a global academic organization for international economic law.

For more information on the 2009-10 Working Paper Series, please contact professor Dominique Custos in the College of Law at dcustos@loyno.edu.

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