2007 Archive

Dean Edley’s Spring Break: Building Bridges in Japan and Korea

Dean Christopher Edley spent a week in the Far East while school was out for spring break. Accompanied by Laurent Mayali, Lloyd M. Robbins professor of law, Edley divided his time between networking events and scholarly presentations.

"We have active alumni groups in both Japan and Korea that were excited to meet the dean, most for the first time," Mayali says. "Primarily though, we were there to meet with leading law schools in both countries to discuss collaborations, student exchanges, and their evolution toward the U.S model of legal education."

In the first trip to Asia by a Boalt dean in many years, Edley arrived in Kyoto on March 27, flew to Seoul two days later and then touched down in Tokyo for the final leg of the trip. All told, Edley and Mayali visited eight law schools in seven days. During these campus tours, Edley briefed faculty and students about legal scholarship and the diversity of legal fields in the U.S.  

"Our primary topic in these discussions was reform of their legal education systems," Mayali explains. Japan passed sweeping reform provisions in 2004 and Korea is currently debating reform measures with the goal of improving their training programs for future lawyers.

"In both Korea and Japan, it's so competitive to pass the bar that there's an acute shortage of lawyers. In Korea, only three percent pass the bar and in Japan there are barely 20,000 lawyers in a country of 150 million people."

In Korea, Edley and Mayali met with justices and other officials of the Korean Supreme and Constitutional Courts to discuss visiting scholar programs. At the Korean National Assembly, they met with Congresswoman Na Kyung-Won, spokesperson for the Grand National Party, and a former judge herself.

"The dean's visit obviously strengthens Boalt's position in Japanese and Korean legal circles," Mayali says. He points out that due to cooperative educational and exchange programs, Boalt enjoys a favored reputation among the Korean judiciary. In fact, Boalt is currently hosting 16 Korean judges, who are doing research in the areas of corporate governance, corporate liability, and intellectual property issues.

Besides pursuing a vigorous professional agenda, Edley and Mayali also enjoyed some sightseeing and cultural experiences. Highlights were visits to the Nijo Castle and Golden Pavilion in Kyoto, a tour of the Leeum Museum in Seoul, and a reception at Seikei University that included cheerleaders and cherry blossoms.

Editor's note: Two weeks after Edley's and Mayali's return to Berkeley, the dean of Seoul National University visited Boalt to sign a memo of understanding about further research collaboration, as well as expanded student and faculty exchange programs.