Jerome A. Cohen, a professor at New York University School of Law since 1990 and co-director of its U.S.-Asia Law Institute, is a leading American expert on Chinese law and government. A pioneer in the field, Professor Cohen began studying China’s legal system in the early 1960s and from 1964 to 1979 introduced the teaching of Asian law into the curriculum of Harvard Law School, where he served as Jeremiah Smith Professor, Associate Dean, and Director of East Asian Legal Studies. In addition to his responsibilities at NYU, Professor Cohen served for several years as C.V. Starr Senior Fellow and Director of Asia Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, where he currently is an Adjunct Senior Fellow. He retired from the partnership of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP at the end of 2000 after twenty years of law practice focused on China. In his law practice, Professor Cohen represented many companies and individuals in contract negotiations as well as in dispute resolution in China. He continues to serve as an arbitrator and expert witness in disputes relating to China and to Chinese in the United States.

Professor Cohen has published several books on Chinese law, including The Criminal Process in the People’s Republic of China, 1949-63 (Harvard University Press, 1968), People’s China and International Law (Princeton University Press, 1974) and Contract Laws of the People’s Republic of China (Longman Group, 1988). In addition, he has published hundreds of scholarly articles on various topics as well as a book, China Today and Her Ancient Treasures (Henry N. Abrams, 1975), co-authored with his wife, Joan Lebold Cohen, and a regular series of journalistic opinion pieces for various newspapers. In 1990, he published Investment Law and Practice in Vietnam. He continues his research and writing on Asian law, specifically focusing on legal institutions, criminal justice reform, dispute resolution, human rights, and the role of international law.

Outside academia, Professor Cohen has served in government, first as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Washington, D.C. from 1958 to 1959 and then as a full-time consultant to the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations in 1959. He has also testified at many congressional hearings on China.

Professor Cohen is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Yale College (B.A. 1951). He spent the academic year 1951-1952 as a Fulbright Scholar in France and graduated, in 1955, from Yale Law School, where he was Editor-in-Chief of the Yale Law Journal. He was Law Secretary to Chief Justice Earl Warren of the United States Supreme Court in the 1955 Term and Law Secretary to Justice Felix Frankfurter of the Supreme Court in the 1956 Term.

Last Updated: May 2, 2014

Sinica Podcast

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Jerome A. Cohen on Human Rights and Law in China

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
Professor Jerome A. Cohen began studying the law of what was then called “Red China” in the early 1960s, at a time when the country was closed off, little understood, and much maligned in the West.Legal institutions were just developing at that time...

Viewpoint

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A Taiwanese Man’s Detention in Guangdong Threatens a Key Pillar of Cross-Straits Relations

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Viewpoint

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In the just over three years since Xi Jinping assumed leadership of China, observers and scholars of the country have increasingly coalesced around the idea that Xi’s term in office has coincided with a shift in the tone, if not the practice, of...

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What should China watchers be watching most closely in China in 2016? What developments would be the most meaningful? What predictions can be made sensibly?

Conversation

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The China-Taiwan Summit

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This Saturday, for the first time since 1949, the leaders of China and Taiwan will meet face to face. Xi Jinping and Ma Ying-jeou will meet in Singapore, not as Presidents, but—to sidestep one of many lingering areas of conflict since the Chinese...

Conversation

08.05.15

Should the U.S. Extradite Chinese Wanted by Beijing?

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This week, The New York Times reported that Chinese officials have asked the U.S. government to help in apprehending Ling Wancheng, a wealthy Chinese business man and the brother of one of the highest-level officials to have been targeted in Xi...

Conversation

05.29.15

Did the Game Just Change in the South China Sea? (And What Should the U.S. Do About It?)

Yanmei Xie , Andrew S. Erickson & more
As the 14th annual Asia Security Summit—or the Shangri-La Dialogue, as it has come to be known—gets underway in Singapore, we asked contributors to comment on what appears to be a recent escalation in tensions between the U.S. and China over the two...

Conversation

10.17.14

Rule of Law—Why Now?

Ira Belkin, Donald Clarke & more
In a recent essay, “How China’s Leaders Will Rule on the Law,” Carl Minzner looks at the question of why China’s leaders have announced they will emphasize rule of law at the upcoming Chinese Communist Party plenum slated to take place in Beijing...

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06.23.14

The Debate Over Confucius Institutes

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Last week, the American Association of University Professors joined a growing chorus of voices calling on North American universities to rethink their relationship with Confucius Institutes, the state-sponsored Chinese-language programs...

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04.22.14

What Obama Should Say About China in Japan

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On Wednesday, Barack Obama will land in Tokyo beginning a week-long trip to four of China's neighbors—but not to China itself.In Obama’s stops in Tokyo, Seoul, Manila, and Kuala Lampur, the specter of China will loom large. This will be...

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04.06.14

Spy Vs. Spy: When is Cyberhacking Crossing the Line?

Vincent Ni, Chen Weihua & more
Vincent Ni: For a long time, Huawei has been accused by some American politicians of “spying on Americans for the Chinese government,” but their evidence has always been sketchy. They played on fear and possibility. I don’t agree or disagree with...

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