Jerome Cohen is a Professor of Law at New York University School of Law, an adjunct senior fellow for Asian studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, and Of Counsel at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison. He is the senior American expert on East Asian law. As Director of East Asian Legal Studies at Harvard Law School from 1964-1979, he helped pioneer the introduction of East Asian legal systems and perspectives into American legal curricula.
Each year, Professor Cohen teaches a course on Chinese law and society. In some years he offers a third course on comparative international law, analyzing how countries with a Confucian tradition relate to the international laws and traditions of the "Christian West." In another course, he explores international business contracts and economic cooperation with East Asia.
In addition to these formal courses, Professor Cohen coordinates a Chinese language colloquium that attracts key figures in Chinese law and hosts a weekly Asia Hour for students, featuring informal (and frequently autobiographical) talks by prominent diplomatic and government officials, leading academics, and other influential practitioners in the East Asian legal area.
Professor Cohen has published several books, including The Criminal Process in the People’s Republic of China, 1949–63, People’s China and International Law, coauthored with Professor Hungdah Chiu, and Contract Laws of the People’s Republic of China, and many articles on Chinese law as well as a general book, China Today, coauthored with his wife, Joan Lebold Cohen. In 1990, he published Investment Law and Practice in Vietnam.
Professor Cohen formerly served as adviser to the Government of Sichuan Province, China; as chairman of the American Arbitration Association’s China Conciliation Committee and to the New York/Beijing Friendship (Sister City) Committee; as trustee to both the China Institute in America and the Asia Society; and as a member of the board of editors of both the China Quarterly and the American Journal of International Law. He continues to serve on the advisory board of Human Rights Watch – Asia and is a trustee of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Professor Cohen is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Yale College (BA, 1951) and graduated in 1955 from Yale Law School, where he was editor-in-chief of the Yale Law Journal. He was law secretary to both U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren (1955 Term) and to Justice Felix Frankfurter (1956 Term). He subsequently practiced law, served as an assistant U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia and was consultant to the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations before beginning an academic career at the University of California School of Law at Berkeley in 1959. He moved to Harvard Law School in 1964 and remained a full-time faculty member there until he joined the international law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison in 1981. He retired from commercial law practice in 2000 but continues to serve as arbitrator and mediator in international business disputes relating to Asia and as adviser to families of persons detained in China, including Taiwan.