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A Legal Journey Through Time: Destination CLEs’ Scotland Eduvacation

Picture this: You’re clinking glasses of Scotch not far from its distillery, after listening to the origins of common law from a legal advisor to the UK House of Lords. This is no ordinary continuing legal education event, but Destination CLEs’ upcoming Scotland Eduvacation—an ingenious blend of education and tourism.

I’m Bryan Driscoll, a non-practicing lawyer turned HR consultant and legal writer, and excited to describe the journey ahead of you. Your Scottish foghlam saor-làithean starts now.

The Crossroads of Common Law

When you think of Scotland’s contribution to the world, besides Scotch, bagpipes, haggis, or perhaps even the Loch Ness monster might come to mind. However, beneath the surface of these cultural icons lies a profound influence on American law. Scottish thinkers have left an indelible imprint on the American legal landscape, shaping our understanding of common law.

Consider the landmark case of Donoghue v Stevenson in 1932. This Scottish case laid the foundation for the modern concept of negligence, a cornerstone of American tort law, establishing the duty of care standard. Mrs. Donoghue’s unfortunate encounter with a decomposed snail in her ginger beer bottle led to a legal precedent that is still referenced in law schools and courtrooms today.

A Legal Journey Through Time - Destination CLEs' Scotland Eduvacation from Destination CLEs at

Not convinced yet about Scotland’s influence? Let’s travel back in time to the 18th century. James Wilson, a Scottish immigrant, was one of the six original justices appointed by George Washington to the U.S. Supreme Court. His legal philosophy, deeply rooted in Scottish moral philosophy and common sense, significantly influenced the development of American jurisprudence. In an ironic twist of fate, Wilson, while still serving on the Supreme Court, found himself heavily in debt and even spent time in debtor’s prison—twice. A sobering reminder that even the most influential figures can have their share of trials and tribulations.

Destination CLEs’ upcoming trip will bring to life the rich history of Scotland’s influence on American law. Leading the charge will be Professor Stephen Tierney, a renowned legal luminary and advisor to the UK House of Lords Constitution Committee. With his wealth of knowledge in constitutional law, Professor Tierney will guide us through Scotland’s significant contributions to the legal world. But the journey doesn’t stop here. As you navigate the cobblestone streets of Edinburgh, you’ll learn more about the intertwined histories of English, Scottish, and American law. You’ll explore their common origins, their divergences, and the influence they continue to exert on each other. By the end of this trip, you’ll not only have 12 CLE credits under your belt, but also a newfound appreciation for Scotland’s role in shaping American law.

Aye for Influence: Scotland’s Impact on American Law

One key area of influence is the realm of natural law and natural rights, concepts central to American constitutionalism. The Scottish Enlightenment, a period of intense intellectual activity in the 18th century, saw luminaries like David Hume and Adam Smith challenge traditional notions of morality and governance. Their ideas crossed the Atlantic, influencing the likes of Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, and shaping the philosophical underpinnings of the American Constitution.

Scottish influence also permeated the formative era of American law in the post-Revolutionary and 19th centuries. During this time, as America grappled with developing a legal system, Scots law provided a wellspring of inspiration. For instance, James Wilson brought his understanding of Scots law to the bench, influencing the development of American jurisprudence.

We find that these centuries-old common law principles still guide our modern legal practice. Whether you’re drafting a contract or arguing a negligence case, you’re working within a framework shaped by common law. Its enduring relevance is a testament to its flexibility and adaptability—the ability to evolve with society while providing a stable legal foundation.

Harry Borovick, General Counsel at Luminance, will address modern topics of sports gambling, tech, and more. Borovick is uniquely positioned to walk through the developing landscape of legal tech as someone who has been at the forefront of implementing AI in legal processes. You’ll explore how AI is reshaping privacy laws, as governments take different approaches to regulation.

The Scotland Experience: From Legal Prowess to Golf and Lochs

Your adventure begins in the historic city of Edinburgh, home to the majestic Edinburgh Castle. This castle is not just an architectural marvel but a symbol of Scotland’s storied past. As we tour its ancient halls, imagine the echo of bagpipes filling your ears, the clatter of swords, and the murmur of legal debates from centuries past.

Another option for you is to journey to St. Andrews, a quaint village known as the home of golf. But don’t let its idyllic charm fool you. It’s also the birthplace of the University of St. Andrews, the third oldest university in the English-speaking world and the first university in Scotland.

You’ll venture to the tranquil shores of Loch Lomond. As you gaze upon the serene waters, notice Inchmurrin, the largest freshwater island in the British Isles. For the golfers in the group, Gullane Golf Club, a revered institution over 350 years old, perfectly encapsulates the Scottish spirit—a blend of tradition, challenge, and camaraderie. Here, you’ll trade our legal briefs for golf clubs and our courtrooms for fairways. But don’t worry, the legal conversations won’t stop. They might just become more animated as we navigate bunkers and debate about adverse possession over a round of golf.

Get Ready for Scotland

This CLE trip is more than just an educational experience; it’s a leap into the heart of Scotland, its legal tradition, its culture, its people. It’s about immersing ourselves in the places that have shaped the law we practice and love. As you traverse Scotland’s rugged landscapes and historic sites, you’ll be immersed in the rich tapestry of common law and its Scottish roots. The knowledge gained from this experience can provide unique insights and perspectives which enhance your legal practice. As a bonus, the blend of education and leisure offers a refreshing break from the usual conferences and seminars. Don’t miss the chance to embark on a journey that blends learning, leisure, and the lure of Scotland.

So let’s toast—with Scotch, of course—to this unique journey. See you in Scotland!

About the Author

Bryan Driscoll is a non-practicing lawyer turned HR consultant. He is also a legal writer and Forbes Contributor, often writing on personal injury and employment law. 

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