Jerome Cohen ’55 to Speak on China’s Law and Power

Jerome A. Cohen ’55 will give a lecture titled “Law and Power: China’s Ongoing Struggle” on February 3, 2016, at 12:10 p.m. in Room 122. Cohen, Professor of Law at New York University School of Law, is the leading public intellectual on Chinese law and human rights outside of China and the founder and director of NYU’s U.S.-Asia Law Institute.

“He is truly a ‘one of a kind’ Yale Law School graduate,” said Professor Paul Gewirtz ’70, director of The China Center, about Cohen. “He is a pioneer and legend in the American study of China, Chinese law, and human rights, a visionary and a tenaciously practical change-agent. He was the first American scholar to give in-depth study to China’s emerging legal system, the first American lawyer to open an office of a major international law firm in China (in 1979), a persistent advocate for improved human rights in China, the teacher and mentor of several generations of China experts that now populate these fields. And he remains a prolific and indispensable writer, commentator, advocate and arbiter of all things China. He has also been a great friend and supporter of the Law School’s China Center since its founding.”

A graduate of Yale College and Yale Law School, where he was editor-in-chief of the Yale Law Journal, Cohen was law clerk to both U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren (1955 term) and to Justice Felix Frankfurter (1956 term). After a period of additional government service, he began his teaching career, first at Boalt, then at Harvard, and then for twenty years at NYU. As Jeremiah Smith Professor, associate dean, and director of East Asian Legal Studies at Harvard Law School from 1964 to 1979, he pioneered the introduction of East Asian legal systems and perspectives into American legal curricula. In the 1980s he joined the international law firm of Paul Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, and also became a professor at NYU Law School. NYU’s U.S.-Asia Law Institute, which Cohen founded, sponsors many extracurricular programs, conducts research on contemporary legal developments in China and Taiwan, organizes conferences and exchanges with experts from both sides of the Taiwan Strait, and participates in training programs for Chinese legal specialists in the United States and China. Cohen, who formerly served as C.V. Starr Senior Fellow and director of Asian Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, remains adjunct senior fellow there and is responsible for the Winston Lord Round Table on U.S. Foreign Policy and the Rule of Law in Asia. In recent years, his regular writings for general circulation media and academic journals have played a central role in keeping the world informed about human rights and legal issues within China.

Said Yale Law School’s Dean Robert Post ’77: “Jerry Cohen has lived a life of extraordinary achievement, embodying the very highest ideals of Yale Law School.”

Professor Cohen’s visit is hosted by Yale Law School’s China Center. Founded by Professor Paul Gewirtz in 1999 as the China Law Center, The China Center is the primary home for activities related to China at Yale Law School. The Center is a unique institution dedicated to helping advance China’s legal reforms, improving U.S.–China relations, and increasing understanding of China in the United States.