Articles by Professor Jerome Cohen's former students, mentees and colleagues celebrating the first fifty-eight years of his career!

James Feinerman, Pioneering the Study of Chinese Law in the West, 65 The American Journal of Comparative Law 739, (December 2017)  

As one of the many students who have benefited, directly and indirectly, from the unconventional choice that Jerome A. Cohen (“Jerry” as we all know him) made to undertake the study of Chinese law in the 1960s, I have long been aware of the great debt that we owe to Jerry for his adventurous spirit and infectious enthusiasm. He was uniquely able to both inspire and energize his students while at the same time building an academic enterprise—and later a thriving international legal practice—at two great American law schools (Harvard and New York Universities) and a major international law firm (Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison). Looking back at what has been accomplished in this field, it is truly astonishing what his intellectual ambition and focus on international understanding have achieved.
— James Feinerman

Margaret K. Lewis, Safeguarding the Boundaries of Right: Jerome A. Cohen's Experience with Law in the People's Republic of China, 65 The American Journal of Comparative Law 745, (December 2017)  

Jerry’s nonchalant reference to pursuing intensive Chinese lessons in 1960 downplays how daring this decision truly was. Given Jerry’s extraordinary legal pedigree, people could not believe he would devote his energy to anything as esoteric-or even nonexistent in the eyes of some-as Chinese law. A Chinese idiom counsels that, without entering a tiger’s den, how can you hope to fetch a tiger cub (不入虎穴,焉得虎子)? Likewise, Jerry saw the risk in directing his career toward China, but he also saw the potential for great rewards.”

“Jerry is uniquely situated to draw on his over half-century of work with China’s legal system both to give credit where credit is due and to provide criticism when it is warranted. At a time when the human rights situation in China has deteriorated markedly, Jerry’s voice remains a clear reminder of what is the right thing to do. He is using his public platform to fortify the boundaries of right.
— Margaret K. Lewis

Photo by 外滩画报 (摄影:李威娜)

Photo by 外滩画报 (摄影:李威娜)

Summary: This is an interview of Professor Jerome Cohen by Waitan Huabao, a mainstream weekly newspaper in Shanghai. The interview recounted Professor Cohen’s career in Chinese legal studies as early as 1960 when he could not, at the request of the Rockefeller Foundation, find an American law professor who was willing to undertake the study of Chinese law and therefore volunteered to take on the task himself. He began learning about China and studying the Chinese language at the age of 30. He described in the interview what it was like to practice law in Beijing in 1979, when China was just opening up to foreign investment and law practice, as well as many interesting anecdotes about living in Beijing as a foreigner. At a time when China had virtually no legal resources, Professor Cohen accepted the request of the Beijing city government to train its officials in business law, in the Chinese language. The most important aspect Professor Cohen has valued in his career is his role as a teacher. He developed close relations with his students and mentees, guided them through difficult times and decisions, and continued close contact with many of them, who now play an influential role in the legal profession, academia and government inside and outside China.

杰罗姆·科恩(Jerome A.Cohen)在上海静安寺的希尔顿酒店大堂里左右张望。希尔顿和喜来登一样,是他在上海最爱的酒店。他早年做过律师,在他的努力下,喜来登集团在 1980 年代中期开出了上海第一家中外合资酒店。
他像位旧时代的绅士,穿着妥帖,礼貌,花白的胡子和眉毛被他梳理成合意的形状。他今年 84 岁,行动虽有些踟蹰,依然思维敏捷,爱开玩笑。
中国和他的人生密切相关,他从 30 岁开始关注这个他眼里有趣的国家,关注它的语言、政治、法律和时事,中国也变得越来越重要,足以让他靠之为生。研究中国法律多年,他对一些不成文的“中国智慧”了然于心。华琪
— 华琪, 外滩画报

Frank Upham, A Tribute to Jerome Alan Cohen on His Eightieth Birthday, 43 NYU J. of Int’l Law and Politics 623 (2011)

Jerry’s career is one to envy. He started out as a star: Phi Beta Kappa as an undergraduate, Fulbright Scholar to France immediately thereafter, first in his class and Editor-in-Chief at Yale Law, Supreme Court clerk not only to Earl Warren but also to Felix Frankfurter, Covington & Burling, Assistant U.S. Attorney, and professor of law at Boalt Hall at the University of California at Berkeley. Impressive as it is, however, this trajectory is repeated by many eager young scholars every year. What distinguishes Jerry is what he did after leaping through all the conventional hoops. In 1960 he gave up the assured track and started studying Chinese, a time when the chances of making a successful legal career based on Chinese law must have seemed remote indeed.
— Frank Upham

Alison W. Conner, Legends of the Legal Academy: Jerome Alan Cohen, 60 J. of Legal Education 4 (May 2011)

Now China is on everyone’s radar and Chinese legal issues appear daily in the news. But long before interest in China was so common, American law schools were already teaching Chinese law—in large part the legacy of a true legend of the academy, Professor Jerome A. Cohen. During his career, Jerry Cohen has been active in every area of Chinese law, including teaching, research, policy-making, and practice, and in all of them he has been a pioneer.
— Alison Conner

Pamela Kruger, China’s Legal Lion, NYU Law - Issues: 2009

Almost four years earlier, just days after Nixon had won the presidential election, a small group of China experts from Harvard and MIT, including Cohen, delivered a confidential memorandum to a Nixon foreign policy adviser named Henry Kissinger. The memo’s first recommendation was that the president move toward reconciliation with China by sending a trusted emissary to hold secret and, if necessary, deniable meetings with Chinese officials. Afterward, Cohen, chair of the China scholars group, met occasionally with Kissinger at the White House to discuss implementing the memo, but Kissinger, a former colleague at Harvard, “held his cards close,” says Cohen. So Cohen was surprised, and elated, when Nixon announced his plans to visit China and disclosed Kissinger’s secret meeting with Chinese officials. Watching the televised footage of Nixon’s arrival in China, Cohen found himself near tears. “This was revolutionizing U.S.-China relations,” he says, “something I’d been working toward for 12 years.” 

-- Pamela Kruger, China’s Legal Lion



Summary: This is an essay in celebration of Professor Cohen’s 80th birthday written by Mr. Liu Guiming, the Editor-in-Chief of Democracy and Legal System, a major journal published by the China Law Society. Mr. Liu applauded Professor Cohen’s important contributions to Sino-US relations as well as the improvement and development of the field of Chinese law, including his role in promoting cooperation and exchanges between China and America, assisting China’s contemporary legal reforms and cultivating a large number of foreign scholars and lawyers to specialize in China’s legal system. The passion and spirit of Professor Cohen towards China, said Mr. Liu, were as infectious and moving as those of the late Dr. Henry Norman Bethune, legendary Canadian friend of modern China.




— 刘桂明

Richard Bernstein, A Scholar’s Insight Into China’s Budding Legal System, New York Times, July 28, 2010

"It was the early 1970s, and Jerome A. Cohen, at the time a specialist on China at Harvard Law School, was having dinner with Prime Minister Zhou Enlai in Beijing."

"I told Zhou, ‘You should put somebody on the International Court of Justice,”’ Mr. Cohen recalled. “Well, he and the other Chinese officials at the dinner laughed uproariously. They thought I was Jack Benny. Why would Communist China want to put somebody on a court where they’d be outvoted by all those capitalist judges?"

"But they’ve done it,” Mr. Cohen said, illustrating one of the things that seems normal in China today but that was almost unthinkable when China’s opening to the world was brand new. “They’ve staffed all international organizations with excellent legal talent.” 


Chen Weihua, A legal aide for East and West, China Daily, July 6, 2010

Photo by China Daily /   Chen Weihua

Photo by China Daily / Chen Weihua

With a lifelong career as a lawyer and educator, Cohen’s students are now found everywhere in the legal system in the United States, the Chinese mainland and Taiwan. Current Taiwan “president” Ma Ying-jeou was a student Cohen admitted to Harvard Law School in the 1970s and Ma’s wife, Chou Mei-ching, worked as Cohen’s assistant.

Cohen, a founder of NYU’s US-Asia Law Institute, is never shy in pointing out or criticizing problems in China or the US. He said his criticisms are only aimed at making the countries better. “I love China and the Chinese people,” said Cohen, whose signature moustache moves as he speaks.

Besides his successful legal career, Cohen has long been an advocate of human rights, providing assistance decades ago to Kim Dae-jung who later became the president of South Korea, as well as Benigno Aquino Jr, the Philippine opposition leader.
— Chen Weihua

Verna Yu, Beijing’s friend and critic, South China Morning Post, July 1, 2010

Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post published this July 1, 2010 profile of Professor Jerome A. Cohen celebrating his birthday and honoring his past and continuing efforts as a scholar and advocate for the rule of law.

There is something unique about Professor Jerome Cohen, who turns 80 today. The pioneering US expert on the Chinese legal system was an early advocate of engagement with China, long before this became fashionable. And now, as the world is at the feet of China in awe of its economic might, he is one of the few who dare point out its shortfalls.
— Verna Yu