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University of Washington School of Law

Transcript: Taylor Henderson Professorship: "Lawyers, Guns, and Money: The Perils of Remaking Other People's Legal Systems"

Greg Hicks:

Thank you for joining us, especially on this beautiful afternoon, to come for a true celebration for our community. It's the installation of Veronica Taylor as the Dan Fenno Henderson Professor of Asian Law. This is one of a series of installations of endowed professorships that we have, and these are just immensely important to our school. These gifts are truly far-sighted and visionary ones because they create the capacity for our faculty members to extend their scholarship by having resources for travel and hiring of research assistants. It's of course a real signal demonstration of the quality of the work that has been done, that has caused someone to be identified as a holder of a professorship.

And one of the things that happens over time is that with the passage of time, as you have a succession of incumbent holders of the professorship, the luster of the professorship grows, as you have people that have done wonderful work, who have been associated with professorship, and their turn gives way to another.

And this, again, is one of the truly, I think, glorious things about that, which is that you have this strengthening of the institution and a creation of a real culture of emulation in the doing of top-flight scholarship.

And so we are especially grateful to the donors of all of our endowed professorships, and let me say just a few words of welcome to those who are here today and then continue on.

We have members of the judiciary who here today from near and far. I think Dean Patricia Wahl from the School of Public Health... I don't know if Pat is here today but I was told that she might be, and Paul Littlewood, Executive Director of the Washington State Bar Association.

And so thank you all for coming and celebrating. I look out and see many friends of the law school, those of you who give your time and energies just to keep our school flourishing, and it's wonderful to see you all here.

Just a word about the Henderson Fund in particular: This endowed professorship, it was established through gifts by a number of Dan Henderson's colleagues, former students, and admirers. And he truly was a pioneer, launching the Asian Law Program with an initial grant from the Ford Foundation.

And originally it was centered on Japan Law, and even in its earliest days Professor Henderson saw the need for the expansion of the program so that it took on, I guess a broader agenda of really engaging the full possibilities of having sophisticated comparativist studies of Asian law institutions and American Law institutions.

And so this gift to establish the professorship, and in a sense is true to the vision that lead to the coming of Asian law to the University of Washington. It's been one of our true prides, it's been one of the sources of the school's identity in the scholarly universe, both internationally and here in the United States.

And so we thank all of those who contributed to the establishment of this endowment including, and obviously last but not least, Carol Henderson, Dan's wife, and her commitment to the perpetuation of his legacy has also meant a lot to this.

All the donors, by the way, are identified in the program and maybe you'll have a moment just to look through them and think a quiet thought of thanks.

Next I'd like to introduce professor Jon Eddy who will be offering some observations and comments on his association with Professor Taylor. Jon has his undergraduate degree from Harvard and is one of our own, graduating from the law school in 1969.

He's had a truly distinguished career as a teacher and as an internationalist, having begun many years ago a project as Assistant Dean and member of the faculty at Addis Ababa at the university there.

And now we know him best as the director of a project funded by a grant from the US Department of State, The Afghan Legal Educators Project. It has brought several cohorts of educators and aspiring legal educators from Afghanistan, from the University of Kabul and from Provincial Universities, as they are trying to develop a real culture of legal education and legal professionalism there.

And Jon's understanding of the difficulties of doing that, so they come to us but we don't impose upon us. They are here, finally, to begin to develop tools that will allow them to develop free-standing approaches to their legal educational structures.

And Jon works very closely with Veronica in our Asian Law Program and I'll turn the podium over to him, Professor Jon Eddy.

[applause]

Professor Jonathan Eddy:

Thank you very much Dean Hicks, and thank you in particular for the selfless service that you've given this law school over the last two years, providing us with leadership and encouragement during difficult times.

I'm deeply honored with the privilege of introducing Professor Veronica Taylor today for her installation as the Dan Fenno Henderson Professor of Law.

This occasion and this role has a certain personal symmetry for me. More than 40 years ago, I was drawn to the University of Washington to study, in no small part because of the fledgeling program in Japanese law, which was championed by then Dean Lehan K. Tunks and very ably led by Dan Fenno Henderson.

I had the opportunity to take Professor Henderson's course in introduction to Japanese law, also a course in introduction to the Chinese legal system by Professor Philip Bilancia, and a very fine comparative law course taught by Professor George Fletcher, now the Cardozo Professor of Jurisprudence at Columbia University.

In Version 1.0 of my own career plan I was to be Veronica Taylor.

[laughter]

I aspired to be a specialist in Japanese and in US-Japan trade relations, but life requires frequent revisions and Version 1.0 was amended many times. Nonetheless, when I returned to the University of Washington, and indeed to the Asian Law Center, it was Professor Veronica Taylor who provided the link and brought me back.

The UW's history in the field of Asian Comparative Law is longstanding, as this indicates. At the time, in the early 60s, there were perhaps two or three other law schools in the country with similar programs or ambitions, and the University of Washington had stolen a march on the field.

Today I think, more than ever, it's important that this school and this university capitalize on that long history and tradition, and utilize fully and continue to build the wide web of relationships that we've built with institutions throughout the world.

The university, as a whole, is rated something like the 16th or 17th university in the world. With due allowance for the shortcomings of such systems, and they are many, that's due in no small part, of course, also to its standing in Asia.

With due allowance for the shortcomings of such systems, I think it's essential that we leverage on that standing and bring the law school into closer alignment with the high regard that ranking indicates.

This is entirely consistent, in my mind, with our... In no way at odds with, but very much consistent with, our local base and our local role, positioned as we are in a major port in the most trade dependent and one of the most innovative states in the United States.

Professor Taylor also has deep roots in comparative and Asian studies. Already in secondary school she was studying Japanese and she became an exchange student in Japan, honing her language and cultural skills.

She specifically admonished me that it was not necessary to chart her development from early childhood, but I must take note of the fact that she is reported to hold a black belt in Japanese tea ceremony.

[audience laughter]

I think, considering Japanese standards for excellence, this is a formidable accomplishment. Indeed, it's hard to weigh. I think we could safely say that both the Henderson Professorship and a black belt in tea ceremony are achievements that require enormous diligence, expertise, and energy.

Faculties traditionally evaluate their members in three areas, the areas of scholarship, teaching, and service. Her standing in each of these areas - and it's unusual for any faculty member to excel in all three, and yet I think, without any question, it's accepted broadly that Veronica Taylor does excel in all three.

So rather than recounting her myriad accomplishments in each of these fields, I'd like to speak at a slightly more personal level on Veronica Taylor as a colleague.

I regard probably the highest attribute of a colleague as loyalty. Sunshine colleagues are as worthless as sunshine patriots; it's in adversity that we are tested. I have observed Professor Taylor's loyalty in many venues, and she has earned my loyalty by the loyalty that she has shown others consistently.

On an equally high plane, I place sound judgment. Now, that's no doubt a fuzzy concept. I see it much the same way as the English writer, C.P. Snow, as he describes it in his marvelous novels on academia. I think Tony Kronman captures some of the concept in his book, "The Lost Lawyer."

Whether it's easy or hard to define, it's easy to recognize, and I think it's universally recognized in Professor Taylor.

Finally, I particularly value the ability to confess error, and to give credit to others. How dearly we've paid since 1996, from the failure of leaders to be able to do that. So I put that right at the very top of the list.

On the very limited number of occasions when it might be said that Professor Taylor has made a misstep, I have seen her with the rare ability to accept this, to acknowledge it, and to give public credit to others who took a different position. That is remarkable, indeed.

As mundane as these attributes may seem, for me they capture much of the essence of what it is that makes a good colleague. It's good colleagues, even more than good leadership, that build a fine institution.

It's good colleagues that create the circumstances where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. It's good colleagues who summon forth in each of us the desire to excel, and to do our best work, rather than complain, shirk, and pass off adequate work.

With gratitude for both the leadership and the collegiality that she has given this school, I give you Professor Veronica Taylor, the Dan Fenno Henderson Professor of Law.

[applause]

Hicks:

Thank you, Professor Eddy, for your wonderful comments there. At this point, I would like to invite Professor Taylor to join me at the podium, and we'll have the conferring of a medallion, which is the emblem of the professorship that is being awarded today. It says simply, "Dan Fenno Henderson, Professor Veronica L. Taylor." Our wonderful colleague, Dan Foote, was the first holder of this professorship, and it's a great joy, a great honor, to be able to bestow it now on Professor Taylor.

[applause]

Now I will turn the podium over. Professor Taylor's lecture is titled "Lawyers, Guns, and Money: The Perils of Remaking Other People's Legal Systems, " and so, a great admonition about meddling.

[audience laughter]

Professor Veronica Taylor

Well, thank you, Dean Hicks and Professor Jon Eddy, for that very warm introduction. It's a great privilege to speak today in honor of the memory of Professor Dan Fenno Henderson.

I met Professor and Mrs. Henderson on their visit to the University of Melbourne many years ago, and I was assigned to be his teaching assistant. I was so completely charmed by him that I immediately decided that I wanted to do my LLM at the University of Washington, rather than at Harvard or Columbia, which had been the original plan.

It was a wonderful year, but I have to admit that the cultural highlight was organizing my LLM class to go to a sleazy bar up on Aurora and hear Warren Zevon play live.

[audience laughter]

So if you admire Zevon's songwriting, you'll remember the hook line in "Lawyers, Guns, and Money, " which is a song about the Cold War. "I was stranded in Havana. I took a little risk. Send lawyers, guns, and money. Dad, get me out of this."

Today, I want to focus on the lawyers, guns, and money currently sweeping the world, and as shorthand, I'm going to analyze this through rule of law assistance projects.

First, the lawyers. Rule of law, as many of you know, is a contested term, but American lawyers are at the heart of its implementation through loans and foreign aid. The U.S. plays a central role in the World Bank and the IMF, and is a bilateral donor.

We also have more lawyers than anywhere else on the planet, so it's no coincidence that the ABA is now heavily promoting its own rule of law initiatives.

Now, the guns. The most dramatic shift in rule of law activity in this century is its militarization. Our support for anti-terror and anti-money laundering law reform in Asia, for example, flows directly from the Bush administration's War on Terror.

We've moved rule of law to a new location, the pre-post-conflict setting. So in Iraq and in Afghanistan, militarized rule of law is proceeding through provincial reconstruction teams, or PRTs. The PRTs are controversial because they blur the line between military engagement and civil rebuilding of a nation.

We will continue to blur that line further when the State Department starts to implement its newest initiative, which is a standing corps of civilian lawyers, judges, prosecutors, and lawyers who will be trained for fast response deployment in conflict zones. So we're going to embed our legal reformers in the very front line of our military operations.

All of this is expensive, and the magnitude of rule of law activity can be gauged from the scale of funding. So, leaving aside military spending completely, it's interesting to note that in 2007 the World Bank committed nearly $23 billion in loans for law, justice, and public administration, and another $425 million for rule of law projects. Other lenders and donors committed billions more.

Much of this money is flowing into Asia, so if you think about the money spent on democratization and institution building in Indonesia, or market strengthening in China and Vietnam, post conflict reconstruction in Timo-Leste, or disaster relief in Bangladesh, despite all of the activity and the billions of dollars that are being spent on rule of law, we have a problem.

First, intervening in other people's legal systems is generally risky and unpredictable. Second, these rule of law projects are not grounded in a strong body of research. Third, we undertake rule of law projects for so many different reasons that it's very difficult to gauge what constitutes development or what constitutes a success.

So today I want to explore these problems, but also think about the contributions that we can make from the University of Washington towards solving them.

Let's start by going into the field in one of our current law reform projects in China. So in China, as you know, there's a growing gap between rich and poor. Out in the countryside, Land is being seized by the state, but more frequently by developers. People are losing their jobs and families are breaking up.

In the countryside people are frequently aware of their rights, but unable to implement them. This matters because the Chinese government has promised rule of law as both a constitutional commitment and also as a policy objective. But it faces enormous challenges in delivering law in a universal way across the country.

So many donor funded projects approach this challenge by trying to build up the legal constitutions in China, making the courts function better, or perhaps bringing high profile public interest litigation to draw attention to legal deficiencies.

We designed a different kind of project. Our project in China focuses on a much more mundane - but we think equally important question - which is the demand side. How do you enable rural citizens to gain access to courts for everyday civil matters - family disputes, land disputes, injury disputes?

So what we've done in rural communities in Hunan Province, inner Mongolia, and Chan Ching is first of all to increase the flow of legal aid.

We're also doing at the same time an extensive household survey to measure in a rigorous way whether increasing legal aid and advertising the availability of legal aid actually changes people's perceptions of their legal system, or indeed changes the choices they make in pursuing compensation or dispute resolution.

As part of the project, we also send Chinese law students into the countryside as legal interns to interview rural clients and prepare the legal aid litigation files. So in this way we're helping local universities to build their clinical programs.

One of the things we want to explore is what happens when you take law students from urban areas, usually people who are social elites, and take them out to the country side to see what the hardships and lack of justice mean for ordinary Chinese peasants. Will this have some kind of transformative effect on these young lawyers and change the way that they pursue their careers and legal practice?

As I describe the project it sounds pretty wonderful. But all of the stakeholders see a slightly different picture. The US government loves these kinds of projects because they seem to be supporting the growth of democracy, so that nurturing rights consciousness amongst Chinese citizens is a way to grow demand for democratic change.

In that view, a lot of litigated cases would be a good outcome, because it would indicate lots of new legal consciousness and therefore a net increase in rule of law.

The Chinese government takes a different view, that building legal institutions is expensive and time consuming, and that the state is unable to provide legal services in a uniform way throughout the country.

So if foreign donors want to come in and help build the Chinese economy, this is a very good thing provided that the projects don't disturb social and political stability.

As you go further down the legal and political pyramid in China, enthusiasm for these foreign funded projects increases. So local officials and local universities and local lawyers are all delighted to have new resources appear in their remote corner of China.

What's happening here, I'd suggest is that the project is taking on a life of its own. Its meaning and its effects are often quite different from the design, and quite unpredictable. None of this invalidates the project, but it does raise the difficult question of on who's terms should we judge its success?

Let me take a different example. Rule of law is also being deployed in our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. In both cases we remain fairly ambivalent about whether we really are engaged in nation building. Prior to going into Iraq, some commentators suggested that there would be parallels in the US experience of rebuilding Germany and Japan after World War Two.

The eminent historian of post war Japan, John Dower, refuted that claim very strongly and pointed out immediately that the Japanese occupation had the advantage of legal and moral legitimacy. But the other element in the Japanese occupation by the allied forces was the sustained commitment to legal reform.

As Dower points out, the reforms that were introduced in the opening year and a half or so of the occupation were quite...[inaudible 23:40].

The Americans introduced in Japan a major land reform. We introduced labor laws that guaranteed the right to organize, bargain, and strike. We revamped both the content and structure of the education system. In all of this the input of Japanese bureaucrats and technocrats was essential to implement such reforms. Serious grassroots support was basic to their survival.

Dower's last comment is the most important. For all of the idealism and the expertise of the American lawyers who took part in the occupation, what really mattered was that Japan was a wealthy, literate country with a stable professional legal elite who were well versed in European law.

They were ready, at the time of the occupation, with locally drafted legislation to pick up the reform process that had been interrupted by Japan's militarization.

This hasn't been the case for Iraq, and it's even less the case for Afghanistan. Afghanistan had a moment of legal modernity in the 1960s but lost it to 30 years of conflict. As you know well, Afghanistan remains a multiethnic, multilingual Islamic republic with an economy based on foreign aid and narcotics.

The government has little legitimacy and very limited ability to project centralized law throughout the country. Most of the population relies on local customary laws and communal dispute resolution.

As a rule of law setting, Afghanistan is dangerous, difficult, and politically divided. So when I announced in 2003 that our next Asian law center project would be in Afghanistan, my faculty colleagues thought that I had lost my mind.

Nevertheless, we decided to work in Afghanistan, and our project partners us with law professors and recent graduates as we prepare them for teaching modern law.

That partnership extends to all of the major universities in Afghanistan and significantly with both the law and politics faculties and the faculties of Islamic law.

By the end of the project, in 2010, more than 40 Afghan legal educators and deans will have become proficient in English, have studied in Seattle, and a significant number will have completed their LLM degrees. That group includes nine women.

This is the place in the speech where I tell you ours is the most successful legal reform project in Afghanistan. We're unique. We've kept the same professional team for six years. We've kept our promises to local counterparts, and so far we've experienced no deaths, no injuries, and no defections from participants.

We're leveraging our knowledge of legal history in Asian legal systems. Our collective experience in Indonesia, and importantly the School of Law'sexperience of 45 years of educating lawyers from developing Asia.

We also fulfilled some secondary aims. We put the law school on the map in Washington D.C. and we have engaged with difficult questions of US policy. I think have made an important positive contribution.

Our J.D. students have benefited from some wonderful courses taught by Pro. Clark Lombardy on contemporary Islamic law. Also from working with lawyers from Afghanistan.

We have linked our clinical law colleagues and our tribal law experts with colleagues from Afghanistan for very mutually profitable outcomes. It's a triumphant rule of law story. U-Dub law school takes on an epic challenge and succeeds. All the stake holders are happy and benefit.

What's not to like about this picture? Well, the obligation of public intellectuals is to be reflexive to interrogate our own comfortable assumptions about problems and solutions. Let me highlight today just three potential problems.

The first is that we have a tendency to see law and regulation as a technical fix for social, political, or economic problems around the world. In Afghanistan we're improving the legal system as the US funds extensive reforms to the court system. The US also lobbied successfully for the replacement of the chief justice.

All seemed to be proceeding fairy well until in February of this year. The New York Times reported the outcome in a trial involving an undergraduate student in journalism at Balkh University, Mr. Kambakhsh.

The student was arrested and prosecuted on the charge of having downloaded Internet material dealing with the status of women that was critical to Islam. He was also accused of making un-Islamic statements in class.

The legal basis of the offense was a general provision concerning the application of Islamic law in the constitution. In his trial, at first instance he was convicted. On the basis of questionable evidence and Phili perfunctory procedure, even though the prosecutors and the defense counsel had received US funded legal training.

On appeal, he was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Recently, on appeal to the Supreme Court, the sentence was upheld. The Supreme Court handed down its decision in camera, that is with no public hearing, and no notice to his defense counsel.

Not only doesn't this make basic universal standards of due process, it also doesn't comply with Afghanistan's own procedural or substantive law. The reaction amongst many US policy actors was, "How much have we spent on that Supreme Court? How much rule of law are we getting for our taxpayer dollar? When is this court going to start functioning in the way that we anticipated?"

The better question I want to suggest to you is how long do you think it takes to create an institution like a Supreme Court? How long would it take in our country? What about someone else's sovereign country? For extra points, while there's a war on.

There are many theories circulating in Afghanistan about why the Supreme Court decided the case as it did. Political expediency is certainly one of them. That is the idea that the court handed down an exceptionally robust, and some would say rather exaggerated sentence.

In part, to head-off political opportunist who might use Islam to argue that the government, and by extension the Supreme Court, was simply doing the bidding of foreign donors.

The issues here are complex. What I am drawing attention to is the way in which we analogize rule of law to other development technologies.

If we were talking about global health, it might be possible to say, for four dollars a day, we can have mosquito nets and clean water for millions of people around the world. We can measure the effect immediately through decreased child mortality.

Rule of law may cost millions of dollars but the difficulty is you can't pump it or put it in people's hands. It's not a technology and it can't be rolled out very quickly.

The second issue is that not all development problems start with the local players. As lawyers parachuting to Somalia, or Sudan or Cambodia, do they know what they are doing?

Most of us who are lawyers here today would really hesitate to give advice on a problem like intellectual property, tax, or medical malpractice if that wasn't the area of our expertise.

In a development setting, ordinary lawyers like you and I are often asked to do simple tasks like re-draft a country's civil code single-handedly. Design judicial training for the entire country or perhaps re-design the curriculum for a faculty in Islamic law.

Sadly, even a J.D. degree from the University of Washington doesn't prepare you very effectively for those kinds of tasks. Most of us are mono-lingual. Most of us are not well versed in European Union law or in French or German law. Yet, most of the rest of the world operates on a foundation of European law.

Most of us know nothing about Islamic law. Unless we've had a close relationship with tribal law systems, have never seen customary law up close. Developing countries tend to have significant bodies of both.

Here I'm reminded of the American lawyer in Kabul who insisted heatedly, that he did know about civil law systems. After all, he had practiced civil litigation.

My current research interest is what do we do about this? Do the ethical norms of legal practice stretch to far-away places? Is there any meaningful way to monitor the quality of legal work being done in development settings?

Should developing counties just be grateful to have legal advisors, no matter how poor the advice or what the consequences of taking the advice are likely to be?

The foundational question is can we produce better lawyers to carry out this kind of work?

Let me point to a third problem with rule of law, and that is its labeling. We'd like to think of law as being eternally progressive as a way of perfecting social governance by human beings. The very words, rule of law, suggest that we are overcoming arbitrary power being exercised by individuals or we are forcing the state to submit to its citizens.

We typically don't think of the dark side of legalization. Let's go back to our China example. Despite the claims that are made in favor of extending legal aid to poor people, in essence, what our project might be doing is helping the Chinese government control its citizens.

By taking ordinary people's legitimate anger or their political protest and funneling that through a legal process, what we may be doing is simply allowing the state to determine when those claims will be listened to, or, as is currently happening with the earthquake and the tainted milk cases, deflecting them from the legal system completely.

Conversely, not every social problem has a legal solution, and so more and more formal law is often oppressive. So, in this way, rule of law overpromises and underperforms. So if those are some of the problems, what are the solutions? In particular, what are the solutions that we can fashion here at the University of Washington?

One solution is intellectual, to study the phenomena of rule of law, rather than just accepting the premise that rule of law projects are a good thing. This, in fact, is the real purpose of our work in China and Afghanistan. If we can produce some fresh, persuasive, applied research from Asia, we may be able to challenge the current orthodoxy of thinking amongst law reform policy makers.

A second solution is practical. A major focus of our work is creating local legal capacity, particularly at universities. This is consistent with the School of Law'smission, as a public institution, to prepare lawyers who will serve in public roles.

Here at U-Dub, we think of ourselves as an underfunded law school, but the contrast between the comfort that we're experiencing today and the acute hunger for legal education in places like Afghanistan, rural China, or Cambodia, is stunning.

Our law school, relative to most other law schools in the world, is actually obscenely wealthy. The economic endowment certainly comes from our own efforts and from the philanthropic culture of American society. But it also has a lot to do with the happy accident of where we were born.

So, as a law school community, rule of law work gives us a great opportunity to engage in redistribution of intellectual wealth, and I'm very happy that so many of my colleagues see the social justice imperative in this kind of research and practice.

I also want to suggest that this was part of Professor Henderson's mission in establishing an Asian law program. The initial funding that came from the Ford Foundation was to enable lawyers from developing countries - in those days, Japan - to study in the United States, and then to go back and rebuild legal institutions in their own country.

The outcome, for us, has been a really distinguished roll call of lawyers, judges, and prosecutors, and also, I might add, professors, deans, and associate deans of law in Japan, Korea, Taiwan, China, Thailand, Indonesia, and Vietnam, all of whom are U-Dub alumni.

The second part of Henderson's programmatic plan was to better educate U.S. lawyers. Not long before he passed away, Professor Cornelius Peck took me aside, and he said, "You know, Henderson was never really that interested in China."

I challenged him on this, and he said, "Well, they don't really have law."

I said, "Well, they have something, and we better find out what it is."

[audience laughter]

This version of the story may or may not be accurate, but what I love about it is the spirit of inquiry and adventure. At a more practical level, it has an implicit challenge. We had better prepare our U.S. students for the world as it is, not as we wish it were.

Are we doing that? What kind of legal education do students and practitioners need in a changing world?

Henderson and his colleagues were preparing U.S. students for a world in which bilateral trade with Japan, China, and then Korea and Taiwan, was increasingly important. So the program had a very strong emphasis on commercial and transactional law.

Those needs remain unchanged, and I'd suggest that we study the legal systems of Asia also, because they help us to understand our own legal system better. The old adage is, the man who knows one country, knows no country.

But in the 21st Century, we also have other, more compelling reasons for turning to Asia. Intra-Asia trade has expanded exponentially, so many of the Japanese lawyers who are coming here to the law school to study are coming to study Chinese law, and already are fluent speakers of Chinese.

My Korean classmate from U-Dub from long ago emailed recently to get some help to prepare to set up his Korean law firm's branch in Shanghai. During the economic downturn in Japan, all those contracts that had lain dormant for so long now needed to be re-examined by U.S. lawyers in light of the new M&A activity.

We've also discovered that we're in a global economy, so it matters very much what individual countries, like Vietnam, Cambodia, or even Laos, do with regard to product standards, food safety, environmental standards, money laundering, immigration and asylum, child custody, or human trafficking.

At the same time, legal history is new again. As I think I've indicated, if you want to go out and rebuild other people's legal systems, it really helps to know the development narratives from Northeast Asia, particularly Japan, Korea, and Taiwan, but increasingly China.

We seem to have discovered that the world hasn't actually turned into a legally harmonized whole. So what distinguishes most legal systems today is legal pluralism and, increasingly, reinvigorated Islamic law, so that Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand are relevant.

India and Pakistan continue to jostle for prominence in U.S. policy on trade and security, and that, in turn, requires that we understand their legal systems.

So, in a changing world, lawyers need more, not less, knowledge about Asia. As my colleagues know, these days I define Asia as being anywhere east of Paris.

[audience laughter]

So at this point in the talk, you're probably thinking, "When will I get a drink?"

Hannah Hewson, Laura Paskin, and Sherrie Eierton have done a superb job preparing this event, and there will be ample refreshments in just a moment. I want to close by acknowledging how much the academic work that I'm describing today has been the product of collaboration. In Japanese, we would say, "okarisamadea" - I achieve this only because your shadow fell upon me.

I inherited the Asian Law Center because I had the good fortune to be taught by Professor John Haley in Seattle, never thinking that one day I would have to succeed him. In Australia, my career flourished because of Professors Malcolm Smith, Mary Hiscock, and David Allen.

Another hero is my former boss at the Australian National University, the eminent economist, Peter Drysdale. It was Peter who taught me the "take no prisoners" approach to building a center within a university, and also how to run a world-class PhD program on a dollar a day.

In Japan, I was supported very much by U-Dub alumni Professer Kaswa Yakisono, and attorney Seta Hatori. I benefited greatly from working at the University of Tokyo with Professor Takashi Uchida and with Professor Norio Higuchi.

These names are unfamiliar to most of you, but if I drew a diagram, you'd see that all of these scholars and lawyers had relationships with one another, that we're only one or two degrees removed from Professor Henderson.

So this is not my CV; it's really an extended academic family tree. Let me acknowledge my family. I want to thank my husband, David, for interrupting his career in Tokyo as an international banker, so that we could come on an adventure to Seattle.

I want to thank my son, Dominic Harvey Taylor. Dominic has only complained once since we came to Seattle, and that was when he was about four. I had embarked on a trip to Mongolia, Indonesia, and Australia.

At home with his dad, Dominic was following this in the atlas, but he realized that turning pages was a really bad sign. So when I came home, he said, "Mom, next time, could you just go to one map?"

[audience laughter]

So thank you, Dominic, for being patient and cheerful.

Undoubtedly, the best move I've made so far at the law school has been to recruit three brilliant lawyers to staff the Asian Law Center, Mie Murazumi, who's also a U-Dub alumna, Alice Stokke, and Dana Raigrodski.

As I come to work each morning, and I unfold my latest ambitious scheme, they're never afraid to tell me that I am, indeed, out of my mind. But, typically, they improve the idea, and they implement it much better than I ever could. They make every day joyful and energetic.

It hasn't always been this much fun. Shortly after I arrived, we lost all of our senior Asian and Comparative Law professors - Henderson, Haley, Foote, my great friend and China specialist, Don Clarke, and then, tragically, our international law colleague, Joan Fitzpatrick.

So I had become a center of one. A couple of colleagues came to me and said, "Well, Veronica, nothing personal, but it looks like you're going to have to shut down the Asian Law Program."

Of course, this was a tactical mistake. You should never tell an entrepreneur that it can't be done, because it just drives them to more insane efforts.

What made a huge difference at that time, and continues to energize me today, were the good wishes, the advice, and the donations from alumni and supporters. Not only did those keep me afloat, but they also reminded me that I had to perform in order to preserve our collective investment.

This is also symbolized by the many, many contributions to the Dan Fenno Henderson Professorship Fund.

I also had some secret solace during those years. Unbeknownst to my colleagues, Mrs. Henderson had asked me to look through Professor Henderson's filing cabinet, and in the cabinet, from the 1960s and '70s, were numerous law school memos on wafer-thin carbon copies, single-typed script with hand-written corrections.

There were a bundle of bitter complaints to the dean, demanding that the Asian Law Program be shut down. As the memo writers said, at considerable length, it was a frolic. It was one person's vision. It was a waste of resources, and it was draining energy from the School of Law'score activities.

Professor Henderson seemed to have ignored these objections, so I resolved to do the same. In those early years, I received really valuable advice and support from my former classmates and colleagues, particularly Paula Littlewood, and John Pierce, and Jody Chaffee.

Jody, with Rick Guinee, actually volunteered to come and help teach courses that we badly needed at the time, and became some of our most popular and innovative offerings.

I received a lot of support from my senior colleagues, particularly former dean Ron Hjorth, Professor Dick Cumbert, and Professor Linda Hume. We didn't always agree, but I'm very grateful for their wisdom, and for the gracious way that they tolerated my mistakes.

Here in Seattle, now I have the pleasure of teaching and working with two wonderful colleagues, Professor Anita Ramasastry and Professor Jane Winn. They've been very generous, and they've made life intellectually fulfilling.

I also want to recognize Professor Michael McCann. Michael has been consistent in his efforts to get us to partner more effectively with other colleagues in units across campus.

Professor Jon Eddy, I spoke to you a little about our work together, and I want to acknowledge him, and also my colleagues, Professors Susan Whiting and Hualing Fu, at the University of Hong Kong.

Project work is difficult; it's frustrating, and sometimes, it's hazardous. It makes a huge difference to have colleagues like these three, who are brave, and smart, and make it possible.

Jon deserves a special mention because I recruited him through a long-distance phone call, on which I said, "Jon! We have this great project opportunity. You'll be perfect. You have exactly the right skills, but it's not actually in Indonesia."

Jon, who's an Indonesian specialist, has been kind enough in the last six years not to remind me that, yes indeed, Kabul is not actually in Indonesia.

[audience laughter]

As we've grown the community of global scholars at the law school, we've made many demands on faculty, colleagues, and staff, to host, or meet with, or receive increasing numbers of international visitors and scholars.

So I want to thank all of my colleagues and all of the law school staff for doing this willingly, and for really presenting a caring, professional face of the United States, which is much more powerful than anything that we do in the classroom.

Let me also acknowledge and thank my younger faculty colleagues, particularly Professors Dongsheng Zang, Clark Lombardi, Jonathan Kang, Joel Ngugi, and Sylvia Kang'ara. I'm thrilled to have played a small role in hiring each of you.

When people think of the Asian Law Center in the future, my deepest wish is that they nod in the direction of Henderson, Haley, and Taylor, but that they really focus on the young intellectual stars who are transforming what we do. Because of this superb group of younger faculty, I'm now able to move to my next task, which is succession planning.

Finally, but most importantly, I'd like to thank my students. We have an uncommonly accomplished body of J.D. students, who are great to work with. Our international LLM students and visiting scholars play a wonderful role in our classes, and they are great ambassadors for the law school when they graduate.

I don't think that it's a secret that I have a special place in my heart for the PhD students. I also have a special box of tissues in my office. This is for when they bring their dissertation drafts, and either they cry, or I cry.

They're producing magnificent, original work, and my secret goal here is, through them, to entrench socio-legal studies of Asian and Comparative Law throughout Asia.

By 2012, we will have reached a milestone of 50 PhDs in Asian and Comparative Law. This is in addition to the 20 professors worldwide who are graduates of this law school and who teach Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Thai, and Indonesian law.

In development terms, we call this the multiplier effect. If each of our graduates produces 10 PhDs of their own, we're well on the way to completely transforming legal education in the U.S. and in Asia.

So 2012 is also the time that we're going to celebrate 50 years of Asian Law at U-Dub - a glorious past, but also a vibrant and expanding future.

I understand that this may not really have been what my faculty colleagues were expecting when they hired me. I've transplanted a lot of new ideas, a lot of new people, and a lot of new ways of doing things into the culture at the law school.

Gunther Teubner, the German legal theorist, talks about transplantation of ideas and the unpredictable ways in which they bed down, not as legal transplants, but as legal irritants. So in the Teubnerian sense, my goal, while I've been here at the law school, has been to be as irritating as possible.

[audience laughter]

Thank you for putting up with me.

[applause]

[cuts off]

Last updated 6/13/2013