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-boarder 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 an 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 East Asian Legal Studies Program 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 Hastings regularly offers five core courses on East Asian legal systems. Courses on China include Introduction to Chinese Law (three-credit survey course), China Business Law and Economic Rights (two-credit seminar), and China and the International Legal Order (two-credit seminar). Courses on Japan include Introduction to the Japanese Legal System (two-credit survey course) and Law and Business in Japan (two-credit seminar).
In past years, UC Hastings has offered a course on Legal Reform in East Asia. This two-credit lecture course explores legal transitions in Mainland China, South Korea, and Taiwan from a comparative perspective. Detailed descriptions of these core East Asian Legal Studies Program courses may be found below.
In addition, UC Hastings offers a wide range of courses that incorporate issues related to East Asian legal systems and legal culture, including Comparative Law, International Business Transactions, International and Comparative Intellectual Property Law, Law and Development, Public International Law, International Trade Law and Policy, Comparative Constitutional Law, International Refugee Law, International Human Rights Law, International Criminal Law, International Environmental Law, and Asian Pacific Americans and the Law.
Students with specialized research interests not addressed in an existing course may work with Program faculty on independent studies.
The UC Hastings Law 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 to Chinese law and Japanese law.
Foreign, Comparative, and International Law Librarian Vincent Moyer plays a key role in supporting the development of the East Asian Legal Studies Program by providing research support for students and faculty, maintaining detailed research guides, and expanding our collection on East Asian legal systems.
UC Hastings 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 provides an introduction to the legal system of the People’s Republic of China. Students explore the historical foundations of law in China; contemporary Chinese legal institutions and lawmaking processes; and the role of the legal system in China’s political, economic, and social reforms. The course provides an overview of selected fields of substantive and procedural law, including constitutional law, property law, contract law, administrative law, foreign investment law, arbitration law, and criminal law and procedure. Within the framework of the topics above, students complete several short exercises to reinforce a range of general lawyering skills, including clear writing, contract drafting, client communications, and issue spotting. There are no prerequisites, and the course is designed to be accessible to all students, including students without a background in China studies. The course is intended to be useful to anyone who is contemplating a legal career that involves East Asia or has an interest in foreign legal systems generally.
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 course examines the legal dimensions of China’s rise and its integration into the international community. Topics examined include Chinese conceptions of international law; China’s behavior in the United Nations; China and the international human rights regime; China’s behavior in the WTO; cross-border investment related to China; and Western influences on China’s legal reform process.
Law and Business in Japan (Professor Sibbitt). This course addresses areas of Japanese law and business that come into play when investing in or trading with Japan. Against the backdrop of globalization, the course will focus on practical issues that arise in cross-border business transactions, as well as provide a comparative perspective from which to analyze the reasons underlying distinct Japanese and U.S. approaches to regulating universal legal problems. Areas addressed will include mergers and acquisitions, contracts, competition law, financial markets, dispute resolution, the formal structure of the Japanese legal system, Japanese legal culture, and the role of foreign lawyers in Japan.
China Business Law and Economic Rights (Professor Styles). This seminar focuses on current Chinese business and foreign investment laws and the practice of advising multinational clients investing or doing business in China. The seminar compares Chinese laws and their U.S. equivalents wherever relevant, with a view toward achieving a historical and contextualized understanding of the laws of both countries, and a particular focus on the role of law in China and the U.S. in the creation, allocation, or protection of economic rights in natural and financial resources, as well as intellectual property.
Legal Reform in East Asia (Professor Hand). This course is a comparative study of the role of law and legal institutions in the transitions of South Korea, Taiwan, and Mainland China. It is divided into two parts. In the first part of the course, students discuss East Asian legal traditions and perspectives on “rule of law,” examine the East Asian development model, and undertake a general survey of legal reform in each of the three jurisdictions. In the second part of the course, students examine the relationship between law and economic development, the role of law and legal institutions in political transitions in South Korea and Taiwan, and the relevance of experience in South Korea and Taiwan to Mainland China.
Program 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 Program has established exchange relationships with leading law schools in China, Japan, and Korea.
Exchange Programs in Japan
UC Hastings 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 Hastings 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 Hastings 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 Hastings 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 Hastings 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.
Other Cooperative Relationships
In addition to the student exchange programs above, UC Hastings maintains long-term cooperative relationships with Aoyama Gakuin University Law School (Japan), Chuo University Law School (Japan), Doshisha University Law School (Japan), and Pusan University (Korea).
Students interested in applying to an exchange program may find detailed application information on the UC Hastings Study Abroad page.