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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Monday, March 21, 2005

UH law school in exchange program

By Beverly Creamer
Advertiser Education Writer

Harvard's Morton Horwitz says he'd come back to the University of Hawai'i in a heartbeat.

Or a snowstorm.

And that's exactly what's going to help make a new exchange program between Harvard, other top law schools and UH work.

"There will be many people in the Northeast who will be happy to come here in January," said Horwitz, the Charles Warren Professor of American Legal History at Harvard Law School where he has taught for 35 years. "I'd be delighted to come back, but they probably want to circulate it among the Harvard faculty."

Eventually this could all be a springboard for a two-way exchange in which UH law professors visit Harvard for the short J Term between the two semesters there.

"The special Asian orientation of the law school is going to fit in," said Horwitz, who took part in the first three-week J Term at the UH William S. Richardson School of Law a few weeks ago.

"We have chairs in both Chinese and Japanese law and a very prominent East Asian program that could be a source of much of the exchange."

It was Harvard that initiated the J Term 20 years ago to give law students a taste of something different as an optional but intense course during winter break.

"Everyone who takes it at Harvard thinks it's one of the best things at Harvard," said Horwitz. "And in general we're able to invite practitioners for three weeks who would not otherwise be able to come."

Horwitz likes to teach it at Harvard, but notes he has to dig his car out of the snow to get there each day.

"When it first began, the dean would beat the drums for people to teach it," he said. "Now people who ask don't get in."

At Harvard the short term has become a regular part of the curriculum for second- and third-year law students.

UH Law Dean Avi Soifer — who launched J Term in Hawai'i — believes there are also insights Harvard can gain from UH, including information about the unique pre-admission program for students that he hopes Harvard will embrace in its curriculum, helping make it into a model for the nation.

Law school benefactor Frank Boas, who funded the new program, is equally enthusiastic about what UH can offer Harvard.

"It provides Harvard an outreach in the Pacific area," said Boas, a retired attorney and philanthropist. "And here we have some unique programs, like pre-admission, that does a marvelous job of bringing people into the law who have great promise but otherwise wouldn't have the chance.

"My hope is we could team up with Harvard and bring the program there and perhaps make it into a national model," Boas said. "It could be useful for all law schools to serve underserved populations."

Reach Beverly Creamer at bcreamer@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8013.