About TLB

  • Philip Jessup proposed the idea of a transnational law course. His vision of the subject was broad, including public and private international law; state and non-state actors; business, administrative, and political affairs; as well as negotiation and litigation. Inspired by his idea, TLB is only constrained by its pursuit to address all law transcending national frontiers.

« The Future of Law is International | Main | War Crimes: A Japanese Legacy »

September 04, 2006


Rich Kuslan

Mark's post at ABI generated a good deal of traffic and commentary. To further my point, let me only opine that the obsessive, better stated as "fully committed," study of language is not the problem. The imaginative meandering of that committed mind is.

Having myself fallen at an early stage under the China spell, created in my own mind and perpetuated by academics similarly misguided (and they continue to roam the halls), I can not emphasize more strongly the need and value of maintaing a vigilantly skeptical attitude toward claims and assertions floating around out in the world. China is not the repository of all that is good and interesting. And that is precisely the sentiment I see and hear on a daily basis from Americans who for some reason see nothing for them in their own land.

One may learn a gread deal about the Chinese, whose thought and history are worthy of study and, to some extent, adoption, by Westerners. Goodness knows, I have incorporated many ideas into my own life. And one can not deny that opportunities are created wherever a frontier develops, as in China. But frankly, if there are opportunities in China, then, first and foremost, they belong to the Chinese, who have had so few for many generations. This is their upheaval. You are a guest and shall remain so regardless of your depth of understanding and commitment.

Any of you are welcome to discuss this in more detail at ABI -- send me an idea for a post and let's discuss. I'll consider an article for posting on this subject.


Rich Kuslan, Editor
Asia Business Intelligence

David Carnes

I just can’t resist a few words in commentary on this post and on “So You Want to Practice China Law?” by Dan Harris in the China Law Blog. In the latter, Harris quotes an unidentified law student as saying, “Ten years ago if you went immediately to China you would be ending your legal career before it began.” I also note the quote above, “If you start your career internationally without gaining foundational experience here in the US, your chances of coming home and practicing are limited if not impossible.”

Both of those hit home because I graduated from law school in 1996 with a GPA of 3.56, proficient in Mandarin, and after a Summer Associate stint in Beijing with a major international law firm. I was already back across the Pacific by the time they handed out diplomas. A few years later I returned to the United States, and by 2001 I had landed a plum position as a driver for Pizza Hut (sometimes more fun than being a lawyer, but still…).

But hey, now I’m back in China and life is good. The lifestyle is nowhere near what it is in the States, but the people are so friendly that it makes it all worth it. I got lucky, though, because if I didn't like China then I would be in a difficult fix now. There ARE transitions back to the States for premature career optimizers like me, but it takes no small amount of planning, flexibility, imagination and enterpreneurial ability to pull off a smooth transition.


Fascinating discussion, particularly when read together with "So You Want to Pratice China Law" from the China Law Blog.

I heartily agree that there is a problem with jumping straight into China without building experience in a mature legal market.

But I would have thought that one obvious answer is: go to Hong Kong. Mature legal market, big ticket transactional work, with China exposure.

I'm always staggered by the (almost invariably North American) I-love-China types I run into in Beijing, who have no experience of or exporsure to that southern enclave whose financial and legal sectors absolutely dwarf Shanghai and Beijing.

But if Travis is right and Mandarin-Obsession (and I think obsession or perhaps fetishism is the right word) trumps all else, then we have an explanation for why the most obvious option doesn't cross the mind of the angst-ridden, get-me-to-China-now law graduates.

The comments to this entry are closed.