2015 Course Descriptions

Commercial Law and Custom in China: A Historical Perspective

This course will survey the development of commercial regulation, both legal and customary, from imperial times to the present day.  It will examine two major themes: First, it will consider the roles of political institutions, ideology and culture, and economic forces in shaping the laws and customs that regulated contracts, property use, corporations, and finance.  Second, it will consider the role of these commercial institutions in shaping broader economic, social, and political developments in Chinese history, particularly the economic and political turmoil that gripped the country during the Twentieth Century.  Occasional forays will be made into law and economics and sociology, but no background in these subjects is assumed.

Taught by Zhang and Wang

Corporate Crime

This course provides some introduction to the field of corporate crime, which now covers a large and very busy realm of government and law firm practice.  The course will give students a first exposure to: (1) the contemporary practice in federal government agencies and medium to large corporate law firms of investigating, sanctioning, and representing corporations and their managers and employees involved in potential criminal violations; and (2) the debate in the public policy realm over whether, why, how, and when the criminal law should be applied in the corporate and business contexts.  This field is large, complex, and developing rapidly.  Topics during the first term are likely to include corporate criminal liability, securities fraud, insider trading, bribery and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, obstruction of justice, the role of counsel (including attorney-client privilege), plea bargaining and settlements, money laundering, and sentencing.  Second term topics, mostly from the Hong Kong perspective, will include money laundering, bribery, corruption, confiscation, and international asset recovery.

Taught by S. Buell and Young

Entrepreneurship and Innovation

This course is intended to provide a broad introduction to key elements of the law of entrepreneurship and common issues encountered when representing a start-up company.  The first term will introduce typical progressions of technology-based start-up businesses in the U.S., from incorporation through the venture capital cycle toward an anticipated exit.  Along the way, topics will include fundamental aspects of corporate law, employment law, intellectual property, equity compensation (including some federal income tax considerations), valuation, securities regulation, capitalization and typical preferred stock terms.  The second term will explore the Chinese and cross-border context of how businesses can be started up, planned and grown in China.  Students will be introduced to Chinese law and policy such as company law, corporate finance and intellectual property law (only limited to a transactional lawyer), and will be equipped with the legal skills of designing and planning transactional models to achieve commercial objectives in a cross-border context.  Private equity/venture capital, as well as tax, will also be introduced in a Chinese law context, in particular, in various cross-border transactional arrangements.  Students will act as legal counsel to a mock start-up company participating in various legal transactions and advising clients on various legal issues.

Taught by E. Buell and Shen

Financial Law: Chinese and Global Perspectives

The first term of this course will consider global issues in financial law and regulation. It will focus on international approaches and challenges, particularly those emanating from the Global Financial Crisis of 2008. Topics covered will include regulation of financial institutions (particularly the Basel III framework), over-the-counter derivatives, addressing systemically important financial institutions (“too big to fail”/“too big to save”), and resolution of financial crises. The focus will be on international coordination mechanisms such as the Group of 20 and the Financial Stability Board and, in particular, on the concerns of major financial institutions operating on a cross-border/global basis.  The second term is intended to acquaint participants with a balanced picture of China’s current financial market and regulation, as well as the social environment in which Chinese business has been operating, particularly from an integrated view of legal and comparative studies.  In the face of the global crisis and economic downturn, the USA and China have had their own problems and issues. Measures taken by the two major countries (particularly China) in the past years, will be explored, and their fiscal, financial and legal implications will be examined, especially ways in which the current Chinese legal system has evolved itself to stay adaptable towards the ongoing developments. While drawing insights and experiences from the industrialized countries, Chinese laws and practices nonetheless demonstrate their own features and exhibit both strengths and weaknesses.  The course will take a closer look at some of these strengths (development of commerce and investment, particularly in areas such as banking regulation and takeover rules) and weaknesses (cross border listing and shadow banking activities).

Taught by Arner and Guo

Introduction to American Law

This course will be taught in two distinct parts.  The first term of the course will be an introduction to the structure of the American court system. It will concentrate on cases involving non-US entities as both defendants and plaintiffs in commercial suits. Students will study the roles of the state and federal governments, styles of judicial reasoning, case method and the role of precedent in American law.  The second term of the course will give students an opportunity to understand the operation of the legal system through the lens of a single dispute.  Students will identify legal issues in that dispute, draft a complaint and answer, draft discovery requests and take depositions and prepare a case for trial. It will be an active learning experience.

Taught by Haagen

Topics in Intellectual Property Law

This course will introduce students to the basics of trademark and copyright law through a discussion of the basic rules and doctrines involved in both areas, and an examination of their functioning within different industries. The first term of the course will introduce students to U.S. copyright law. Topics will include the basic rules of copyright such as originality, fixation, subject matter, infringement, and fair use.  The working of copyright within the cable television, newspaper, and music industries will be examined. The second term of the course will explore trademark law using a similar approach. Topics will cover the fundamentals of trademark law, such as trademark registration, anti-confusion protection, and anti-dilution protection.  The functioning of trademark law within the luxury and fashion industries will be explored.

Taught by Balganesh and Sun


"Being in Hong Kong was an extremely stimulating experience. With the Asian economy still going strong amidst the Global Financial Crisis, it was hard not to get excited just by the dynamic environment of the city, where so many major international deals of the region are executed. The Institute itself was a great experience and in many ways helped me recognize the link between law school and the practice of law. My classes were both timely and practical. However, what I most valued was the opportunity to get to know both my classmates and my professors in a way that is not possible during the regular school year. Living in Robert Black College, which is small enough to create a very familial atmosphere, lent itself to forming genuine bonds with classmates and professors that I will continue to value for a very long time."

— Vivian Chow, participant from Duke Law School