Legal scholars from across the globe gathered at Harvard Law School in July for a two-day conference on law and development. The conference is the latest in a series of conferences held periodically by a loose consortium of schools–including Harvard Law School, the University of Geneva, Renmin University of China, and the University of Sydney, Australia–on themes of broad shared interest. Previous meetings focused, respectively, on property, corporate governance, and dispute resolution. This year’s conference also included participants from the National Autonomous University of Mexico, Seoul National University, the Universidad de los Andes in Colombia, and the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa. This year’s session explored law and development from five vantage points: Business and Trade; Gender and Family; Disability; China as a Case Study; and Three Examples of Potential for Reform.
This fall, 10 students from law schools abroad are studying at HLS as part of exchange agreements. At the same time, 11 HLS students are studying in France, Ghana, Japan, Switzerland, and the U.K.
We hope you’ll have a chance to meet these visiting students.
Pictured above, left to right: John Sabet (Sciences Po, France), LU Zhe (Renmin University, China), Camille Fromentin (Sciences Po, France), Manon Pasquier (University of Geneva, Switzerland), Maxime Lambilliotte (Sciences Po, France), Sharon Nyatsanza (University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa), Lukas Hafner (Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies,Switzerland), Megan Ma (Sciences Po, France), Joshua Neoh Weng Fei (University of Cambridge, U.K.), Abdul Carrupt (University of Geneva, Switzerland).
Lisa Dicker ’17 with fellow HLS student Dan Li ’17 at Fengtai District Court in Beijing.
I am now in the fifth week of my 10 weeks at Zhicheng Public Interest Lawyers in Beijing. A recent series of juvenile crimes in China has brought national attention to the country’s lack of a juvenile criminal system, so the director of ZPIL asked if any of the interns were interested in undertaking a research project comparing juvenile criminal systems. I jumped on the opportunity and have now been working on that project for over three weeks. I am lucky to be directly supervised by an attorney who works on children’s issues with advice and input from the director of the center. It is a highly relevant and hot topic, so I am very glad to be able to offer something to the dialogue.
In addition to my summer-long research project, I am also doing mini-research projects and casework. My office consists of three attorneys and me, so I get a great deal of overflow and translation work. The attorneys practice in three different areas of law, criminal, children’s rights, and NGO assistance, which means that I am getting a taste of everything. I have developed a survey that will be used in a three-year study of child sexual assault in China, written briefs related to disability law and children’s rights, written memos on US civil procedure processes, and everything in between.
My biggest takeaway so far from the summer is to be flexible! My ability to adapt and eagerness in accepting assignment requests has allowed me to work with many different attorneys who focus on many different areas of pro bono legal aid. I have been able to work in many subject areas and have completed assignments that take many forms—and I am only halfway through the summer!
The work environment itself also necessitates flexibility. The power shuts off at least twice a day, the internet crashes at least once an hour, and I never know when my VPN is going to work so access to typical legal research sites is often limited. But, these challenges have forced me to move outside my comfort zone, and I am confident that if I can produce good research work here, I can do it anywhere.
Stephen’s winter term writing project focused on understanding the legal and regulatory impact that efforts to transform the Chinese Renminbi into an international currency will have on the development of Chinese capital markets and on the future development of China as a financial actor. By traveling to Beijing and Hong Kong in January, he was able to interview experts — including law firm partners, financial economists, journalists and ratings officials — and refine his research thesis. There was a clear benefit in “being able to sit down with practitioners in the field and talk about what is going on,” Stephen noted; “there’s only so much you can get from secondary sources, especially in a subject area like this, where there is so much change.” His project grew out of a long-standing interest in East Asian and Chinese legal studies, reflected in the courses, independent research, and Chayes International Public Service Fellowship he has undertaken during the last three years. Stephen grew up speaking Cantonese, but the four semesters of advanced Mandarin that he took through cross-registration allowed him to delve more deeply into the cultural and social aspects of his research, as well as the legal ones. “The resources available to internationally focused students are one of the things that attracted me to HLS,” he explained.