Photo by Joan Lebold Cohen

 Photo by Joan Lebold Cohen

Jerome Cohen (孔傑榮/柯恩) is a professor at NYU School of Law and Director of its U.S.-Asia Law Institute. He is also Adjunct Senior Fellow for Asia at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Here you can find his lifelong work and interesting stories on Asia and law as well as resources for Chinese legal studies.


Law, Life and Asia

Jerome Cohen's Video Memoirs

Establish Yourself At Thirty

”Sanshi erli (三十而立)!” I first heard this famous Chinese phrase before I could understand it. Every educated Chinese knows it as one of a series of maxims coined by China’s greatest sage, Confucius, as advice appropriate to life’s successive decades.

I was about to turn thirty and confronting my most daring career decision. As a young, untenured professor of American public and international law who had just finished his first year of teaching at Berkeley, should I take up an extraordinary opportunity to study China, one that I had failed to persuade others to pursue?




The U.S.-Asia Law Institute (USALI) of NYU School of Law, founded by Jerome A. Cohen and Frank K. Upham, provides an essential public service by educating important constituencies about developments in Asian legal systems and societies; bolstering legal reform efforts with comparative research and international expertise; and nurturing the current and next generation of scholars and practitioners who will set the direction of legal reform in the future. 

Jerome A. Cohen Speaks at House Committee on Foreign Affairs Asia Subcommittee Hearing on “China’s Rise”

On June 17, 2015, USALI co-founder and co-director Jerome A. Cohen spoke at a House Committee on Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific hearing entitled, “China’s Rise: The Strategic Impact of Its Economic and Military Growth.”

For his written statement, please click here. A Chinese translation of this testimony was published in FT 中文网. To read the full text, please click here. To view the video recording of the hearing in its entirety, please click on this link.  

Most Recent Book

Challenge to China: How Taiwan Abolished Its Version of Re-Education Through Labor

by Jerome A. Cohen & Margaret K. Lewis

"In this important book, Professors Cohen and Lewis, leading China scholars of different generations, have drawn on the repeal of the Liumang [hooliganism] Act in 2009, as well as Taiwan's broader achievements in legal reform, to call upon China, under its new leadership, to learn from Taiwan's experience. Challenge to China is not only a scholarly tour-de-force; it is a beacon for the reform that is essential if the citizens of the People's Republic are to receive the rights they deserve and their government is to command the respect that is due a great power."  

--Judge John M. Walker, Jr., United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

"Taiwan has successfully made the transition from authoritarianism to democratic governance and correspondingly from a police-centric to a court-centric legal system. Through a meticulous case study of the abolition of the offense of Liumang [hooliganism], Challenge to China provides a fresh and insightful perspective on the rise and fall of that notorious penal institution in Taiwan and the interaction between political liberalization and police accountability. . . . Taiwan's experience says to China that a robust legal reform not only strengthens democracy, it may also catalyze it."

--Professor Fu Hualing, University of Hong Kong Faculty of Law

"Elections alone do not make a democracy. To be fully democratic, states must give up the convenience of arbitrary power and place themselves under the law. In this gem of a book, Jerome Cohen and Margaret Lewis show how the Taiwanese state did just that. Whether ransoming racing pigeons or 'eating the same fish twice,' the authors weave together legal detail with juicy interview data and charming case studies to create a narrative that is persuasive, informative, and engaging. This short, readable book explains Taiwan's legal system, details its legal reforms, and offers guidance (and hope) to reformers everywhere - including those in the People's Republic of China - who are working to rein in police power and secure the rule of law."

--Shelley Rigger, Senior Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute's Asia Program and Brown Professor of East Asian Politics at Davidson College

Book Discussion

Jerome Cohen and Margaret Lewis discuss their book. The duo draw attention to an underappreciated aspect of legal reforms in Taiwan and ask how Taiwan's experience might be relevant to its neighbor across the Taiwan Strait.