The Parker School of Foreign and Comparative Law was organized pursuant to the will of Judge Edwin B. Parker. Judge Parker was a leading international lawyer and senior partner in the law firm of Baker & Botts, and had served on international adjudicatory bodies following World War I. He provided in his will for the establishment of a school devoted to the teaching and study of subjects relating to the international commerce and foreign relations of the United States.
The original Supervising Trustees of The Parker School were Harlan Fiske Stone, then Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, Secretary of State Henry L. Stimson, Attorney General William D. Mitchell, Colonel Harry T. Klein, and Dr. Frank Fitts. They decided that affiliation with Columbia University, a leading institution of higher learning with an outstanding reputation in the field of foreign and comparative law and foreign relations, would best serve the purposes of the School. This association began in 1931.
Although affiliated with Columbia University, The Parker School retains its own Director and Board of Supervising Trustees. The present Trustees are Robert G. DeLaMater, Chairman; Richard J. Holwell; Matthew H. Hurlock, Edward Soto and Ursula Wynhoven. The Director is Benjamin Liebman, Robert L. Lieff Professor of Law and Director of the Center for Chinese Legal Studies.
The support from The Parker School assets was an important reason why Columbia led prominent American law schools in study of foreign legal systems and of theories of comparative law. That support continues today, and is helpful as Columbia seeks to remain strong in the study of European and Asian law and to increase its focus on Latin American law.