Comparative brilliance

The law school's John O. Haley brings international experience to the Whitney R. Harris Institute for Global Legal Studies

Despite advice to the contrary, John O. Haley, the Wiley B. Rutledge Professor of Law and director of the Whitney R. Harris Institute for Global Legal Studies, immersed himself in Japanese almost from the moment he graduated from college.

A two-year stint in the Princeton in Asia program as an assistant English teacher at a small Japanese college deepened his interest, and even though he was told that there was little future in Japanese studies, he continued learning Japanese during his first year of law school.

During his second year, the critics won out. Haley abandoned his Japanese studies.

Third-year law student Annie Littlefield and John O. Haley, the Wiley B. Rutledge Professor of Law and director of the Whitney R. Harris Institute for Global Legal studies, discuss global law issues in the Bryan Cave Moot Courtroom in Anheuser-Busch Hall. — Photo by Carol House

“I did not have anything to do with Japanese,” Haley says. “I thought I was done with Japan.”

It was not until his third year in law school that a seminar on law and modernization rekindled his interest in Japanese law and culture.

“That class and some incredible encouragement from Dan Henderson made me realize that there was a future in studying law in East Asia, especially Japan,” Haley says. Henderson was the director of the Asian Law Program at the University of Washington and was later a visiting professor at the Washington University School of Law.

In 1969, Haley received a fellowship from the University of Washington and was in one of the first classes to graduate from the Asian Law Program.

After graduation, Haley continued his Japanese studies for a year at Kyoto University under a Fulbright research grant. He also worked for a Japanese law firm and a Japanese patent firm in Osaka, and then worked for two years at a major international law firm in Tokyo.

Upon his return to the United States in 1974, he joined the law faculty at the University of Washington, where he remained for nearly 26 years.

From U. of Washington to Washington University

A combination of personal and professional reasons brought Haley from the Pacific coast to St. Louis.

“The decision was remarkably easy to make,” he says. “The position was open, and Dean (Joel) Seligman asked me to join the faculty. I was ready for a change.”

Haley and Wang Xiaoye of the Chnese Academy of Social Services Law Institute at the Great Wall of China. — Courtesy photo

Haley wanted to take his own research in a new direction and found that Washington University offered the best opportunity. As a nationally recognized comparative law scholar, Haley was looking forward to working with a faculty with a wide variety of experience.

“In addition to continuing the strong Japanese program, I have the opportunity to collaborate with an extraordinarily gifted faculty that have experience with the legal systems of a broad range of countries, from France and Germany to China and Russia,” Haley says. “Over 50 percent of the faculty have been involved in some way with one or more aspects of international, comparative and foreign law.”

As the director of the Whitney R. Harris Institute for Global Legal Studies, Haley leads one of the leading centers for the study of international and comparative law.

“We’re ahead of the pack in many respects,” he says. “Through our instructional programs, our research efforts, our conferences and other activities, we hope to change the perception lawyers have of their global role and to help them to appreciate the significant need for professional training involving law and legal systems outside of the U.S.

“The world is becoming more interdependent every day.”

Haley notes that the Harris Institute interacts with other law schools and many community organizations, as well as groups and programs in the School of Law, Arts & Sciences and other units of the University.

“I would like the Harris Institute to become a clearinghouse for information,” Haley says. “We would like to bring together anyone and anything that relates to international, comparative and foreign law.”

Upcoming activities from the center include a conference on biotechnology and biodiversity, lectures on constitutionalism in China and Thailand, and the start of two new lecture series — one featuring justices of various constitutional courts, the other featuring leading international lawyers.

The Harris Institute also sponsors a new student-edited journal, the Washington University Global Studies Law Review.

In addition to comparative and Japanese law, Haley teaches contracts and transactional litigation.

His research includes work on judicial systems, especially judicial organization, independence and corruption.

He is also interested in the legal traditions of the Mediterranean and East Asia.

“John Haley has long been recognized as one of this nation’s leading comparative scholars and perhaps the leading scholar on Japanese law,” says Seligman, J.D., who is also the Ethan A.H. Shepley University Professor. “His work has been an inspiration to a generation of younger scholars.

“He is a wonderful and warm colleague who has become to many of us a good friend.”

John O. Haley

Positions: Wiley B. Rutledge Professor of Law and director of the Whitney R. Harris Institute for Global Legal Studies Education: A.B. 1964, Princeton University; LL.B. 1969, Yale University; LL.M. 1971, University of Washington Family: Wife Karin; daughters Jorin Taylor, Brook and Star Baird; grandson William Harrison TaylorHobbies: Gardening and swimming
Outside of his professional interests, Haley’s family played a large role in his move to the University.

“My wife and three daughters were very excited about the move,” Haley says. “We really enjoy the collegial community at the University. There is a nice physical closeness. Like other faculty and staff members, we live very close to campus.

“It’s great because we can interact more with other faculty and staff members as well as students. It’s also nice because my daughter, Brook, is an undergraduate here.”

St. Louis also allows Haley to be closer to daughter Jorin Taylor and his first grandchild, William Harrison Taylor, who live in Nashville, Tenn.

Since coming to the University, however, Haley has not had time to get back to one of his favorite pastimes: gardening.

“Our time has been occupied with getting settled and heading down to Nashville to see the new grandchild.” But he has become a regular at Millstone Pool at the Athletic Complex.

Haley continues to enjoy his time in the School of Law.

“I couldn’t dream of having a more supportive dean,” Haley says. “The faculty is intellectually engaging and wonderfully collegial. The students just get better and better.”