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Comparative Law: Getting Started

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Comparative law may involve the examination of the legal systems of different foreign jurisdictions vis-a-vis each other or the United States.  For example:  the common law jurisdictions of Australia, Canada, and the United States may be compared with each other.  Or, those three common law jurisdictions may be compared with civil law jurisdictions such as France and Germany, or with mixed common law/civil law jurisdictions such as Scotland and South Africa. 

Comparative law may also involve the study of certain aspects of law as found in two or more countries.  "Personal status" laws deal with law as it affects women or religious minorities, mainly in Muslim or other creed-based legal systems.  Thus, the "personal status" laws of Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen might be compared. 

Another example:  civil or criminal procedure might be compared among such diverse jurisdictions and legal systems as the United States, Sweden, Macedonia, India, and Japan.

Finally, comparative law studies are growing to encompass the comparison of supranational law topics (EU trade practices versus NAFTA trade practices) or "soft law" (quasi-legal instruments of an admonitory character). 

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