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California Western's Chile Summer Program Educates Students, Locals on New Legal System

Classroom setting of the Summer Study Abroad Program in Chile

Be a part of the change. Apply now.

That is, if you want a hands-on experience in the Chilean legal system as the country continues to adapt to a new era of democratic governance and human rights.

James Cooper, professor at California Western School of Law and director of the Chile Summer Program, has been working in Chile for close to 20 years. "I make it my mission to expose students to a new legal culture and a better understanding of the rule of law and its role in promoting democracy and sustainable development," Cooper says.

The program, which began in 2008, has provided students with an opportunity to make a difference at a pivotal time in Chile's history. After former dictator General Augusto Pinochet stepped down in 1990, Chile began to overhaul its criminal justice system. Since 2000, the country has implemented an adversarial criminal procedure system—which has taken the place of Chile's former inquisitorial system—a transition in which California Western faculty and students have participated firsthand.

Students witness a legal system in the throes of reform and learn how the rule of law supports foreign investment, business development, and a commitment to human, labor, and environmental rights. Among other opportunities, students have the chance to participate in workshops with Chilean public institutions and learn directly from leaders of human rights non-governmental organizations, labor organizations, private law firms, Chilean Public Defenders, National Police, and the Attorney General's Office.

While this is an incredible opportunity for students to experience Chile's legal system firsthand, Cooper says, "The important thing is for the students to see that all countries, their systems of law, and their ways of governing are interconnected and that we have much to learn from each other."

To learn more and apply, visit