Biography of Paul Tsai

The Paul Tsai China Center bears the name of a distinguished Yale Law School alumnus, the late Dr. Paul C. Tsai, LL.M ’54, J.S.D. ’57, in recognition of an extraordinary gift given to the Center by Dr. Tsai’s son, Joseph C. Tsai, Yale College, B.A. ’86; Yale Law School, J.D. ’90.

Paul Tsai in Commencement regalia
Paul Tsai LL.M ’54, J.S.D. ’57
on Yale Commencement Day 1957.

Paul Tsai, a native of Huzhou in Zhejiang Province, China, grew up in Shanghai and moved to Taiwan in 1948. He came to Yale in 1953 and in 1957 was the first ever graduate student from Taiwan to receive a J.S.D. degree from Yale Law School. When he returned to Taiwan, Dr. Tsai became a pioneering figure in its economic miracle and integration into the international economy. Serving in various key government positions, he played a leading role in developing policies and laws that contributed to Taiwan’s extraordinary economic growth. In recognition of his outstanding civil service, Dr. Tsai received the President’s Award for Outstanding Performance in Government Services in 1963.

In 1965, Dr. Tsai and his father, Ruchin Tsar, established a private law firm, Tsar & Tsai — itself a pioneering effort as Taiwan’s first partnership law firm with a reputation for quality and innovation. As his personal success grew, Dr. Tsai became a generous philanthropist. Among his many acts of generosity, he endowed the Myres S. McDougal Professorship at Yale Law School, in honor of his mentor when he was a student, as well as the Paul C. Tsai Professorial Lectureship at Yale Law School.

Paul Tsai’s son, Joe Tsai, continued the family legal tradition, graduating from Yale Law School in 1990 and practicing with Sullivan & Cromwell in New York before moving to Hong Kong to begin a career in investment management. In 1999, he met Jack Ma and soon after joined him as one of the founding members of the Chinese Internet company Alibaba. Today, Joe is executive vice chairman of Alibaba Group and serves on its board of directors.