2016 Course Descriptions

Comparative Election Law

This course will consider a series of topics arising from the comparative study of public election law in various countries.  It will include discussion of laws regarding who may vote, representational systems, the administration of elections, the regulation of political parties, and campaign finance.  The election law to be discussed will include that of the United States, China, Hong Kong, Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Germany, Turkey, and the European Court of Human Rights. We will pay close attention to the role of courts in overseeing the electoral process, considering how much deference judges should give to political and administrative actors.  We will also consider the relationship between different representation theories and election law.

Taught by Ding and Tokaji

Corporate Law:  China and Japan

The first term of this course will examine corporate governance in the context of the economic development in China.  Theories of corporate governance and models of development are among the areas likely to be addressed.  China's engagement of existing global norms, ways in which China may (or may not) now or in the foreseeable future be shaping such norms, and their impact on China will be considered.  Each session will cover a specific topic.  Topics may include the development goals of corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, the state ownership, how China's innovation is promoted/hindered by corporate governance, etc.  The first term will conclude with a mock merger negotiation between two Chinese companies.  The second term of the course will encourage students to think about corporate law from a variety of perspectives by using Japanese law and business as an example.  An overview of the Japanese business law environment and system of regulation will be followed by discussions of how Japanese companies are governed from the perspective of various stakeholders.  The role of courts in resolving disputes will also be discussed using specific high-profile cases as examples.

Taught by Guo and Jones

Cultural Heritage and Environmental Law

This course examines recent legal efforts to combat continuing deterioration and loss of the cultural heritage as well as the natural environment in Asia. Case studies will be drawn primarily from China and Southeast Asia to demonstrate the negative side effects of rapid economic growth, poorly regulated change, and unsustainable development. These include air and water pollution on an unprecedented scale, the loss of biodiversity and ecosystems, the disappearance of ancient city centers and historical sites, looting and illegal trade in cultural artefacts, decline of cultural diversity and pressure on minority peoples, as well as the deterioration of cultural landscapes. The course will provide an overview of domestic laws dedicated to protecting Asia’s cultural heritage and environment, relevant international treaties, human rights, sustainable development, and other related public and civil efforts in this context. The course will use interactive teaching techniques and audio-visual media to illustrate the case studies.

Taught by Boer and Gruber

Entrepreneurship and the Law

This course is intended to provide a broad introduction to key elements of the law of entrepreneurship and a foundation for thinking about the law and policy of innovation.  The first term of the course will introduce students to typical progressions of start-up businesses, from early-stage seed funding through the venture capital cycle toward an anticipated exit.  Along the way, topics will include fundamental aspects of corporate law, intellectual property, choice of entity in light of tax- and non-tax-related issues, securities regulation, capitalization and equity-compensation issues, as well as innovation policy.  In the second term of the course, students will be introduced, in a Chinese and cross-border context, to how business can be started up, planned and grown in China or with a China (cross-border) dimension.  Students will be introduced to Chinese law and policy such as company law, corporate finance, and intellectual property law (limited only to a transactional lawyer), and will also be equipped with some 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.  During both terms of the course, students will from time to time act as legal counsel to a mock start-up company.

Taught by Ward and Shen

FinTech: Legal Issues and the New Paradigms in Financial Services

This course aims to provide students with an introduction to digital financial services and fintech, focusing on Africa and Asia. Digital financial services can expand the delivery of a range of financial services through technologies like mobile phones, electronic money and retail agents.  These channels can drastically drive down costs for customers and service providers, providing access to financial services to remote and under-served populations as well as to sophisticated users. The course will consider, among other things, the challenges in seeking a balance between financial innovation and financial regulation. Consumer protection issues and anti-money laundering and counter finance terrorism issues will be considered, as will the role of ‘traditional’ banks and whether there is truth in the statement of Bill Gates that while “[b]anking is necessary, banks are not”.  Investment into these fintech companies by international investors is significant and the global benefits of fintech and digital financial services, such as facilitating cross-border transfers and payments, will also be considered. The first half of the course will focus on the African context. Mobile payments have revolutionized the financial industry in Sub-Saharan Africa, where more than two-thirds of people have cellphones, but only around one-third have bank accounts.  Stand-out success stories, such as M-Pesa -- the Kenyan money transfer system now used across Africa, RainFin and RocMyPeer, the P2P and social lending platforms, and Snapscan have changed the way that consumers do business. The second half of the course will focus on Asia, in particular China, where fintech is transforming the financial sector at a greater pace than perhaps anywhere else in the world, bringing both tremendous opportunities as well as risks.

Taught by Itzikowitz and Arner

Introduction to American Law

This course is intended to provide a broad introduction to key elements of American law.  The first term of this course will introduce students to some of the distinctive aspects of United States law and legal institutions, including sources of U.S. law, case method and the structure of American federalism. In the second half of the course, special attention will be given to developing a working understanding of the American litigation system, including pre-trial discovery and trial procedure, and the growth of alternatives to litigation, such as mediation.  Students will conduct a mock civil trial, playing the roles of attorneys, witnesses, and jurors.

Taught by Haagen and Dimond

"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