The Asian Law Program

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The UW School of Law has long been internationally recognized as the leading research and instructional center for the comparative study of East Asian and U.S. law. The School's Asian Law Program, established in 1962, brings together foreign legal professionals from Japan, Korea, China, Taiwan, Thailand, Indonesia, among other Asian countries, and highly qualified American and other non-Asian students who have competency in an East Asian language. Through contact and cooperation in this program, participants gain a valuable reciprocal learning experience and conduct cutting-edge research on topics of critical importance in the Pacific Rim.

The program offers advanced, intensive instruction and research opportunities for those who intend to pursue a career in trans-Pacific legal affairs. The program today comprises a major research effort with a graduate degree program offering both Ph.D. and master of laws (LL.M.) degrees in Asian Law, as well as a concurrent J.D.-LL.M. degree opportunity and a concentration track in the J.D. program. The program is directed by John Haley. In addition to Haley, participating faculty include Daniel H. Foote (Japanese law), Donald C. Clarke (Chinese law), Linda S. Hume (International and comparative commercial law), Richard O. Kummert (U.S.-Japan corporate law), Toshiko Takenaka (Comparative intellectual property), and Paul Liu (Comparative intellectual property).

The program was initiated in 1962 under the leadership of director Dan Fenno Henderson with support from two substantial grants from the Ford Foundation. The initial funding for the program reflected the efforts of several members of the faculty, notably Ralph W. Johnson, Cornelius J. Peck, and Arval A. Morris, with strong support by then Dean Lehan K. Tunks.

During the initial years of the program, faculty in the program focused on research and publication; but in 1967, the faculty initiated the first instructional program ever attempted for the advanced education and training of legal professionals in comparative Asian and American law.

Haley, who is the Garvey, Schubert & Barer Professor of Law and is also professor of international studies, joined the faculty in 1974. At that time, Henderson and Haley were the only full-time members of any law faculty outside of Japan with a primary research and instructional interest in Japanese law. As such, they were at the forefront of a new trend: today, over a dozen American law schools and at least half that many law faculties in other English-speaking countries have at least one full-time faculty member with Japanese language ability and an established research interest in Japanese law.

From the mid-1970s through the 1980s, the Asian Law program continued to expand. A grant from the Dana Foundation funded the Dana Fellows Program that brought to the program several outstanding American lawyers as well as the first students from the People's Republic of China. An American Bar Association fellowship, funded by the Japan-United States Friendship Commission, enabled the program to attract American lawyers with competence in Japanese language to pursue the LL.M. degree.

As a result of a special initiative to the Washington State Legislature in 1987 to enhance the UW's activities in international studies, the Asian Law Program expanded further. Provost George M. Beckmann established a new faculty line for Chinese law, which was filled by Donald C. Clarke in 1988. The same year, as a result of support from Beckmann and the law school dean, John R. Price, a third Japanese specialist, Daniel H. Foote, was appointed to the faculty.

To support the research and teaching activities of the program, a major effort was launched to develop the already significant library holdings on Japanese law and to expand its Chinese and Korean collections. By the end of the program's first decade, the UW's law library had already become the leading research library for Japanese law in the U.S.

[Main reading room of the UW Gallagher Law Library]
  Main reading room of the UW Gallagher Law Library

Today, the Gallagher Law Library at the UW houses one of the largest and most up-to-date collections of Japanese legal materials in the U.S., with significant and ever-expanding collections of Chinese and Korean law. With support of the Weyerhaeuser Foundation, the library also developed one of the nation's leading collections of Indonesian law.

In addition to its educational mission, an important goal of the program is to foster important research on major topics of Asian and comparative law, and to facilitate the publication of that research. In 1968, the program took over responsibility for the editorial and business offices of Law in Japan, An Annual, a publication of the Japanese American Society for Legal Studies. A decade later, the American business and editorial offices of The Korean Journal of Comparative Law were added.

In 1963, the program began a series of five symposia published by the Washington Law Review: Japanese-U.S. Business Transactions, U.S.-Japanese Investment Transactions, a Philippine Law Symposium, U.S.-Japanese Trade Law, and a symposium on the Japanese Constitution. From 1963 through 1968, over 40 articles and a total of 1,255 pages of research on Japanese and Philippine law were published in the Review.

During the program's first decade, in partnership with the University of Washington Press, the Asian Law Series was established. The thirteenth volume in that series was published in 1996, and two additional volumes were in press at the time of this writing.

The Pacific Rim Law & Policy Journal, established at the UW in 1991, is a student-edited law review. The publication quickly gained international reputation as one of the leading international and comparative law reviews. Its publication in 1995 of two symposia--one on competition and trade policy, the other on capital markets and securities regulation in the Pacific Rim--focused international attention on the Journal and on the UW Asian Law Program.

In 1977, in cooperation with the Washington State Supreme Court, the UW Asian Law Program initiated a special research and training opportunity for mid-career Japanese judges. That activity led to the creation in 1983 of similar programs for judges and prosecutors from South Korea and most recently, for prosecutors from Japan. Since 1977, a total of 19 Japanese judges, 21 Korean judges, 24 Korean prosecutors, and 3 Japanese prosecutors have spent up to a year at the UW law school.

As of August 1996, there are some 300 graduates of the UW Asian Law Program, with a distribution by country as follows: Australia (3), Japan (163), China (17), France (1), Germany (3), Hong Kong (1), Indonesia (14), Korea (33), Macao (1), Singapore (1), Taiwan (45), Thailand (2) and the U.S. (53). Most graduates are engaged in practice in law firms and corporate legal departments; some have become the directors of East Asian law centers in Australia, Canada, and the U.S. as well as scholars in over a dozen law faculties throughout the Pacific Rim.

In 1996, a professorship in East Asian Law was established by means of alumni donations and named in honor of Dan Fenno Henderson. The professorship was inaugurated with Dan Foote as the first Henderson Professor of East Asian Law at the University of Washington.

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