News - May 2005
U-M Law professor builds ties with Chinese counterparts
May 25, 2005
The University of Michigan Law School has a long history of connections with China dating back to the early 1900s when the first Chinese law students arrived in Ann Arbor. Continuing and strengthening the existing ties with China is Irwin I. Cohn Professor of Law Reuven Avi-Yonah, who is seeing his work to develop a Michigan Law School–China faculty exchange move toward fruition. In mid-May Professor Avi-Yonah, along with seven of his Michigan Law faculty colleagues visited Tsinghua Law School to help celebrate that law school’s 10 anniversary. Tsinghua is one of the leading universities in China.
While there, he and his colleagues, Professors Timothy Dickinson, Alicia Davis Evans, Whitmore Gray, Robert Howse, Vic Khanna, Steven Ratner, and Lecturer Liya Rong presented a two-day conference, "New Developments in Sino-American Commercial Law." Some of the Michigan faculty presented papers, while others talked about their research. The conference provided a framework for the faculties of the two schools to begin getting to know each other and possibly develop some joint research projects.
Tsinghua University wants to form connections with American universities, and as relationships are developed, Professor Avi-Yonah hopes the Law School will continue to send two or more of its faculty to China each year and receive at least two Chinese research scholars to study here in return. Prof. Dickinson and Howse taught the course this year to 131 students from both Tsinghua and Peking University (Beida) law schools.
Dean Wang Chenguang of Tsinghua University Law School pronounced the conference a success. Michigan’s faculty was "warmly received by not only our students but also students from Peking University, Renmin University, and the China University of Politics and Law." He said that more than 150 students attended.
In addition to developing relationships at Tsinghua, Avi-Yonah began a Globalization and China Seminar at the Law School this past academic year which had close to 40 students enrolled. Two thirds of the class spoke Mandarin and almost everyone in the class had been to China.
Avi-Yonah says that his interest in China developed through one of his graduate students at Harvard, Liya Rong. Ms. Rong arranged for Avi-Yonah’s first teaching visit to China in 2001 and although she works in San Francisco, she returned to Ann Arbor each week to help teach the China Seminar. Ms. Rong will teach the seminar again next year.
U-M Law student wins spot in international court program
May 13, 2005
For the second year in a row a University of Michigan Law School student will participate in a university traineeship program at the International Court of Justice (ICJ). Students from only 9 law schools compete for the available spots at the Court. In addition to the University of Michigan, only the law schools at Columbia, Yale, Georgetown, Virginia, NYU, McGill, Strasbourg, and Geneva were eligible to submit nominees for the program this year. One nominee was selected from each school, and Jason Morgan-Foster, who just completed his legal studies, will represent Michigan's Law School in the program.
"To be able to clerk on the World Court is a truly exceptional opportunity for a new lawyer dedicated to international law. The Law School is very proud indeed to be sending one if its students to the Court," says Virginia Gordan, Assistant Dean for International Programs.
Participants gain a unique view of the inner workings of the Court and invaluable relationships with jurists who are at the forefront of international law. In 2004, the first time the U-M Law School was invited to participate, two graduates were selected for the coveted spots in the program: Sonia Boutillon, '03, and Carsten Hoppe, '04, joined representatives from NYU, Columbia, Yale, McGill, Max Planck, Strasbourg, and Geneva for the program.
"My interest in international law began as a commitment to human rights law," Morgan-Foster says. On a journey with friends to West Africa, he wanted to see a true glimpse into daily African life. He remembers settling down to a simple supper of rice and peanut sauce and complaining that it was bland. Finishing their meal, however, the group walked away and he happened to glance back for a moment. He saw "that a significant crowd had converged on the remnants of the meal." Then he watched as "a squabble turned into a fight over the few grains of rice left on my plate." He says, "That moment shaped the way I think."
Morgan-Foster brings a breadth of experience to his new endeavor at the ICJ. He earned a B.A. in romance languages and international affairs. While in law school, he served as executive articles editor for the Michigan Journal of International Law and received the Hessel E. Yntema Award for Distinction in International and Comparative Law. He has been a Fulbright Scholar in Morocco, served a legal externship in the UN Office of Legal Affairs in New York, was a summer intern with the UN Human Rights Committee in Geneva, and prior to entering the Law School he served as a research assistantship with Penal Reform International in Paris and served with the U.S. Peace Corps in Vanuatu.
Following the completion of his program at the ICJ, Morgan -Foster hopes to pursue a career in an inter-governmental organization or as a professor of international law.
University of Michigan Law students and graduates have garnered a variety of international court experience over the years. Last year, in addition to our two graduates at the ICJ, Benjamin Mizer began a clerkship with Judge Theodor Meron, President of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. This year Jean Soh, '04, will intern at the Tribunal for Rwanda. In recent years students and graduates have also served clerkships in South Africa, the European Council on Refugees and Exiles, the Supreme Court of Israel, and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in Costa Rica.