Center for Advanced Study & Research on Innovation Policy


CASRIP Newsletter - Winter 1998, Volume 5, Issue 1

The University of Washington School of Law Where the Pacific Northwest Meets the Pacific Rim

In his Annual Report on the School of Law issued at the start of 1997, Dean Roland L. Hjorth characterized this institution as "the Law School of the Pacific Rim." Needless to say, that slogan resonated deeply with me; and it led me to give some thought to what I regard as the central elements of this Law School's orientation toward the Pacific Rim, and to ways in which the Law School might further integrate its existing strengths and build on those strengths. The comments that follow are a condensed and somewhat revised version of a memorandum I prepared last spring.

As one of his first major steps as president of the University, President McCormick appointed a task force on international studies, charged with developing recommendations for the "internationalization" of the University. In the summer of 1997, President McCormick endorsed a number of the task force's recommendations and announced a University-wide commitment to integrating international studies into instructional programs and the research agenda throughout the University. The UW APEC Studies Center is playing the leading role among APEC Studies Centers throughout the U.S., and is developing close relations with APEC Studies Centers in other nations throughout the APEC region. On their own initiative, numerous other academic units at UW are also pursuing an international focus.

The international focus meshes well with developments throughout the Puget Sound region and the State. International trade, which reportedly already accounts for one in five jobs in Washington State, continues to expand rapidly; and the level of complexity of the relationships is also rising. For example, Microsoft has taken the lead in forming consortia of major businesses and other members to explore various issues, including labor and trade in financial services, on a global basis (with the Northwest Center for Emerging Technologies, housed at Bellevue Community College, handling coordination for some of those projects). In addition, educational and cultural exchanges are increasing. Even governmental relations between state and local officials and their counterparts in nations of the Pacific Rim are growing. All of these areas present opportunities for the Law School and for Law School graduates.

Furthermore, this focus ties to opportunities throughout the Pacific Rim. As one example, leading educational institutions in a number of Asian nations are in the process of establishing centers for international law or for international law and business, and are developing exchange relationships with institutions in other nations. Members of the Law School faculty have close contacts with a number of those institutions, and the Law School would be well positioned for pursuing expanded exchange relationships with those institutions. These days, the globalization of law, governmental policy, and business is a hot topic throughout the world, and global interconnections are virtually certain to continue to intensify. By staking out our position as a leading institution in this field, the Law School can achieve prominence in what promises to be an expanding area of the law.

The Law School where the Pacific Northwest meets the Pacific Rim would embrace at least the following central elements: (1) A focus on the natural environment of the Pacific Rim; (2) A focus on the people of the Pacific Rim; (3) A focus on the relationships among the people and nations of the Pacific Rim; and (4) Policies and perspectives. These elements of the "Pacific Rim" orien tation would in turn connect various specific aspects of the Law School's activities: "The natural environment" embraces the Law School's strengths in environmental law, law of the sea and marine affairs, and law and sustainable development. "The people of the Pacific Rim region" encompasses human rights, immigration/migration, Native American/ native peoples, health, labor, and law and sustainable development. One major sub-element of the "relationships among the people and nations" is business, which in turn encompasses intellectual property, trade, commercial law, tax, competition law, etc. Transnational dispute resolution is another important aspect of the "relationships" orientation. Finally, "policies and perspectives" relate to all of the preceding issues, but also reflect an orientation toward examining international and comparative perspectives on a broad range of topics throughout the curriculum.

In addition to reconfiguring and unifying some of the existing programs, the orientation as the Law School where the Pacific Northwest meets the Pacific Rim would involve the following: At the teaching level, there should be regularized programs for visiting professors from the Pacific Rim (coupled with an expansion in exchange programs for our faculty members abroad), expanded opportunities for American students to study abroad, and packaging for distance learning of our courses in specialized topics relating to the Pacific Rim. A further possibility is establishment of a summer institute (on a self-sustaining basis), encompassing an institute in American law and business (aimed primarily at international students), an institute in Pacific Rim law and business (aimed primarily at American students, including lawyers and businesspeople), and one or more specialized institutes (along the lines of the successful CASRIP Summer Institute). With respect to research and scholarship, the Law School of the Pacific Northwest should include a regular speaker series, workshops, and major conferences focused on Pacific Rim topics (involving legal professionals, policymakers, and scholars), as well as ongoing research projects and a regular newsletter and perhaps publication series. For our Asian law library, a repository for legal materials from throughout the Pacific Rim region should be created and maintained (ideally accessible on-line).

Over the past year and a half, I have been serving as chair of the Law School's Strategic Planning Committee and as a member of the Dean's Advisory Committee on Strategic Planning (which consists of approximately thirty distinguished alumni and other members of the local legal community). Both committees agree upon the importance of the Pacific Rim to the existing reputation and future of the Law School; but I should stress that the preceding comments reflect my own views. Neither committee has considered the specifics of my memorandum; and the above comments do not constitute a report by either of the committees. I should note, however, that many of the specific elements in my comments reflect suggestions that have been made by individual committee or faculty members, including Professor John Haley.

Perhaps the most notable revision to my original memorandum lies in the slogan itself, which changed from "The Law School of the Pacific Rim" to "Where the Pacific Northwest Meets the Pacific Rim." The revised slogan was suggested by Professor Anita Ramasastry, a faculty member who has attended a number of the Dean's Advisory Committee meetings. Her suggestion seemed to best capture the sentiment of both committees, and certainly reflects my own views: needless to say, the heart of the University of Washington School of Law lies in Washington State, but the Law School also serves a vital role and a role that will only increase in importance as a bridge between the Pacific Northwest and the Pacific Rim.

Daniel H. Foote

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