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Cornell law alumnus appointed to first American clerkship with French supreme court

Cornell Law School graduate Juscelino F. Colares '03 will be the first American to hold a prestigious clerkship with the Conseil constitutionnel in Paris, France, where he will research American constitutional law for French justices.

The unprecedented appointment was announced this month by M. Jean-Louis Debré, president of the Conseil constitutionnel, and Stewart J. Schwab, the Allen R. Tessler Dean of the Cornell Law School. The position will be held by a Cornell graduate who excels in law studies and is fluent in French and English. Candidates for the yearlong program will be selected by a Cornell committee.

"[The Colares appointment] will mark the first time that any of the French supreme courts has used a clerk," said Cornell Law School Professor John J. Barceló III, who helped organize the clerkship. "It is a feather in Cornell's cap that this is a Cornell initiative."

While in France, Colares also will teach an introduction to American law at France's famous Ecole Normale Supérieure (ENS), under a separate agreement with its director, Monique Canto-Sperber. This agreement includes a collection of American law provided by the Cornell Law Library to the ENS Library.

The Conseil constitutionnel is one of France's three supreme courts and reviews all legislation before enactment and has a tradition of studying constitutional law from other countries to inform its decisions. Its justices have a growing interest in foreign legal ideas, which have become a source of inspiration and reflection, said Claire M. Germain, the Edward Cornell Law Librarian and Professor of Law, who also assisted in formalizing the appointment. Basil Markesinis, fellow of the British and French Academies, and a former visiting Cornell Law School faculty member, initiated the project.

Germain added: "In a world demanding increased global perspective on law and public policy, France's commitment to transnational legal research, exemplified by this initiative, is to be commended."

The program begins in September and extends the Cornell Law School's relationship with the high courts in Paris. In July 2007, the law school founded the Cornell Center for Documentation on American Law at the French Cour de cassation -- France's supreme court for civil and criminal matters, endowing it with a full set of American law reports as well as a set of America's leading law journals.

Colares will assist the justices of the Conseil constitutionnel in the uses of current foreign, especially American, law and in the preparation of their judgments. The clerk also will assist the justices in their private publications if and when they wish to consider the parallel solution of American law. This will expedite the spread of knowledge and use of U.S. law in France as well as in America.

"Cornell, the French court and both countries will benefit enormously," said Kevin M. Clermont, the James and Mark Flanagan Professor of Law. "[And] for the clerks, this can be a life-altering enrichment."

The program will be sponsored by Cornell Law School, the Florence Gould Foundation and a number of Paris law firms employing Cornell Law School alumni.

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