The Center for East Asian Legal Studies courses range from country-specific surveys and business law courses on China and Japan to seminars focusing on China’s impact on international institutions like the World Trade Organization. Our courses complement general International and comparative law courses on cross-border business transactions, intellectual property, human rights, tax, and dispute resolution that provide the building blocks of an international practice.
Students connect with visiting scholars and practitioners from the region and take advantage of our numerous conferences and career-building programs. Our East Asian Speaker Series, China town halls, and recent symposia on judicial reform and corporate governance in Japan are just a few examples.
The Center for East Asian Legal Studies provides students with opportunities to study at leading law schools in greater China, Japan and Korea and to participate in internships with partners around the region. Students participating in exchanges and internships experience East Asian legal culture firsthand, enhance their language skills, and build professional networks that will nourish their future careers.
UC Law SF regularly offers core courses on East Asian legal systems. Courses on China include Chinese Law and Legal Institutions in the Global Business Environment, (three-credit survey course) and China and the International Legal Order (two-credit seminar). Courses on Japan include Introduction to the Japanese Legal System (two-credit survey course). Detailed descriptions of these core Center for East Asian Legal Studies courses may be found below. In past years, UC Law SF has offered courses on Legal Reform in East Asia, Chinese Business Law and Economic Rights, and Law and Business in Japan.
Students with specialized research interests not addressed in an existing course may work with Center faculty on independent studies.
The UC Law SF Library boasts a large and growing collection of monographs and primary source materials on East Asian legal systems. The Law Library maintains subscriptions to two of the largest electronic databases on Chinese law, LawInfoChina and Westlaw China, giving researchers instant access to thousands of PRC laws, regulations, cases, journal articles, and other research materials in both Chinese and English. The Law Library website includes detailed research guides on Chinese law and Japanese law.
Foreign, Comparative, and International Law Librarian Vincent Moyer plays a key role in supporting the development of the Center for East Asian Legal Studies by providing research support for students and faculty, maintaining detailed research guides, and expanding our collection on East Asian legal systems.
UC Law SF also is just steps from the San Francisco Public Library, which maintains a large collection of thousands of Asian-language books and periodicals and a broad selection of English-language titles on East Asia.
Core East Asian Legal Studies Courses
Chinese Law and Legal Institutions (Professor Hand). This survey course is an introduction to the legal system of the People’s Republic of China, with an emphasis on topics of interest to lawyers working on cross-border business transactions and dispute resolution. It is divided into four parts. Part I provides an overview of China’s legal development, the ideological foundations of the legal system, and methodological problems in studying Chinese law. Part II introduces China’s domestic legal institutions. In Part III, students study selected fields of law and discuss their application in practice, with an emphasis on business and economic laws. In Part IV, students explore several special topics that place the domestic legal system in the broader context of China’s international relations. Such topics may include U.S.-China trade tensions; domestic censorship and its impact on foreign trade and investment; economic sanctions and related responses to domestic human rights issues; and other current topics. The course will include several exercises designed to strengthen general lawyering skills, including clear writing, business document drafting, and client communications.
Introduction to the Japanese Legal System (Professor Miyazawa). This course discusses the role of law, lawyers, and the judicial system in Japanese society, with a special emphasis on the comprehensive judicial reform that was recommended by the Justice System Reform Council in 2001. The main part of the course reviews the background, process, contents, and impacts of the reform in legal education, civil litigation, criminal procedure, legal profession, access to legal services, and the judiciary. Several substantive areas of law are also discussed.
China and the International Legal Order (Professor Hand). China’s rapid economic growth and growing influence on the world stage pose both opportunities and challenges for international legal institutions. This seminar will examine China’s approach to international law and institutions and the implications of China’s rise for the international legal order. We will explore historical Chinese conceptions of world order and the ways in which China’s history shapes contemporary attitudes toward international law and dispute resolution, the South China Sea dispute, China’s behavior in the United Nations and approach to collective security, China’s critique of and compliance with the international human rights regime, global concern about human rights in Xinjiang, China’s entry into and approach to the WTO, legal challenges related to trade and investment in China, tensions in the Taiwan straits, and related issues. Students complete an in-depth research paper.
Center faculty members believe that it is essential for students interested in legal careers related to East Asia to experience East Asian legal systems and legal cultures firsthand, improve their language skills, and build a network of on-the-ground professional relationships that will nourish them in their future careers. To advance these important goals, the Center has established exchange relationships with leading law schools in China, Japan, and Korea.
Exchange Programs in Japan
UC Law SF maintains two exchange programs with leading schools in Japan. Students may apply to spend a semester at Waseda University Law School in the fall or spring semester of their second or third year. Exchange courses at Waseda are offered in English. Students may also apply to study business law in the Graduate School of International Corporate Strategy at Hitotsubashi University, one of Japan’s leading business schools. This exchange is offered only in the fall semester, and courses are in English. Students participating in the Hitotsubashi exchange are eligible to participate in Hitotsubashi’s internship program. In the fall of 2014, Hitotsubashi exchange students interned at the Tokyo office of Davis LLP (a large Canadian firm) and at Oh-Ebashi (one of the largest firms in Osaka).
Exchange Programs in China
Students interested in the Greater China region may participate in UC Law SF exchange programs at one of three leading law schools in Mainland China and Taiwan: Peking University Law School, Shanghai Jiaotong University KoGuan School of Law, and the National Taiwan University College of Law. UC Law SF students may apply to spend a semester at one of these law schools in either the fall or spring semester of their second or third year. Courses in all three programs are offered in English. Some Mandarin Chinese skills are recommended, but they are not required.
Exchange Programs in Korea
Students interested in Korea may participate in the UC Law SF exchange programs at Yonsei University Law School in Seoul. Yonsei University is the oldest private university in Korea and home to one of Korea’s leading law schools. UC Law SF J.D. students may apply to spend one semester at Yonsei University Law School in either the fall or spring semester of their second or third year. Courses are offered in English. Korean language proficiency is not required.