It's that time of year again when the UC Law Faculty halls, walls, windows and even toilets are decorated with glossy ads for 'summer school' business law courses in Dubai, Beijing, Shanghai, Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi.
I'm planning to skip the "desert tour and boat trip on the Dubai Creek" which is apparently one of the attractions of this year's CBL International Dubai Law School, an offer that's badged as being in cooperation with BBC World News, IP law group Rouse, FedEx and Allen & Overy.
That's partly because I'm squeamish about the legitimisation that's provided through edutourism in regimes that don't respect human rights.
One matter for discussion in the 'ethics' component of clinical legal education might be the appropriateness of "peaceful engagement" with such regimes through institutional and personal endorsement of for-profit short 'business law' courses.
Is it sufficient to say that those courses are concerned with business law, that students will see something of another culture (a visit to a Pearl River sweatshop or to a UAE construction site might be more revealing than canapes on the Dubai Creek or an encounter with a camel) and even acquire valuable language skills that will bridge gaps in understanding between the locals (unlikely in the UAE if all the service staff are right-less gastarbeiter - disposable people - and the teaching is in English)?
Are apologetics different because the law is concerned with trade ... or that the course might be construed as tourism or that it's located in a liberalising economy? Why not study in Mugabe's Zimbabwe, Castro's Cuba or the Fat Boy's North Korea. There's scope there for an entrepreneur - a dash of revolutionary chic, cheap locals to change the sheets and smile obligingly as hard currency rolls in, exotic scenery (I was going to say colourful wildlife but in the N Korean socialist workers paradise the bears and birds have probably been eaten along with the rats and cats), promises of growing friendship ...
I'm thinking of a summer school in Burma for students of national security law: luxurious villa accommodation, plentiful service by oh so deferential servants, an excursion or two to see a restored pagoda, an audience with senior officials who will with heartfelt tones explain that they have learnt from their mistakes and will - but of course - become even better as long as the money keeps rolling in. Premium class students might even get to shoot an elephant (shooting famished peasants is so so yesterday and won't provide tasteful photos for display in the office on the 43rd floor back home) ...