CAFLL-WestPac Recap: Legal Research Instruction In China and Innovative Library Space Solutions

By Ning Han

The joint conference of Chinese and American Forum on Legal Information and Law Libraries (CAFLL) and AALL WestPac was held in Honolulu, Hawaii, October 7-11, 2015. The conference was a huge success and offered opportunities for law librarians from both countries to network, exchange ideas, and learn from each other. This blog post recaps a panel discussion that focused on legal research instruction in China and innovative library space solutions supporting legal education. The panel was moderated by Anne Mostad-Jensen, Head of Faculty Services at University of North Dakota School of Law.

Lee Peoples, Director and Professor of Law at Oklahoma City University Law Library, who has published extensively on innovative library space solutions, introduced the audience to the concept of user-centric library space design. The traditional notion of what an academic law library should look like has been disrupted by a combination of factors in recent years. Designing law libraries to encourage learning is the new focus. The variety of ways students use space and their learning styles should be accommodated. Professor Lee showcased the implementation of this new design notion through examples of several recently constructed or renovated academic law libraries. Data diner booths, bar-height tables, and collaborative spaces with built-in trendy technologies are no longer novel. The offering of outdoor studying space, either courtyard or roof-top, is quietly happening as well. Professor Peoples indicated that a nicely designed library space helps with admission and attracts donations. He even mentioned that many law schools have already converted the so-called “prime” space from law professor offices to student learning space. The mindset of space use and how to promote admissions, marketing, and publicity through transforming space has radically changed. Law librarians from China showed strong interest in this discussion.

Ning Han, Technical Services Librarian and Assistant Professor of Law at Concordia University School of Law and Liying Yu, Director and Professor of Law at Tsinghua University School of Law delivered the findings of their recently conducted survey. The survey aimed to find out what the current practices of legal research instruction in China are and compare them to the American legal research education practices. This new survey was derived from a 2008 survey conducted by Professor Liying Yu, which confirmed the dearth of legal research course offerings at that time. Twenty-five law schools were surveyed this time and the survey found a steady improvement of legal research course offerings in law schools in China since the last survey. The offerings of basic legal research course have gone up to 73%. ALR and SLR courses were found to be more available than in 2008. 38% of law schools surveyed are offering some sort of ALR or SLR courses. The format of the course, credit structure, teaching method, assessment method, and more were studied and compared to the U.S. approaches. Professors Han and Yu also touched on students’ and legal employers’ perception toward legal research courses and legal research skills. They also examined whether there is any feedback or regulatory system in place among legal educators, legal employers, the bar association, and Ministry of Education. A more detailed analysis of the survey will appear in the paper that Professors Han, Yu, and Mostad-Jensen are currently finishing.

CAFLL-WestPac Recap: BIT by BIT: Researching Chinese Bilateral Investment Treaties

By: Barbara Swatt Engstrom

China Africa News

Introduction:

Seattle University Law Professor Won Kidane is originally from Ethiopia and has a strong background in China-Africa investment relations.  In 2012, he published China-Africa Dispute Settlement: The Law, Culture and Economics of Arbitration, which evaluated existing mechanisms of dispute resolution in China-Africa economic relations.  In subsequent years, he focused on a particular institution for international investment dispute resolution: the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID).  In particular, he explored whether ICSID is an appropriate forum to handle the investment disputes stemming from an enormous increase in investment in Africa by China.  In analyzing the ICSID legitimacy debate, he created a framework to assess the suitability of ICSID arbitration for China–Africa investment dispute arbitration.  The outcome of this research project was his article: The China-Africa Factor in the Contemporary ICSID Legitimacy Debate.

As he was working on the project, Professor Kidane decided to delve more deeply into the bilateral treaties that provide the basis for the investment regime he was questioning.  He asked me to research and analyze all bilateral investment treaties (BITs) between China and African countries.

Background on Chinese BITs:

In order to do the analysis part of the project, I needed to get myself up to speed with BITs, generally, and Chinese BITs, in particular.  While BITs vary depending on the negotiating partners, countries use model BITs as starting points.  Historically, there are three generations of Chinese model BITs.  China’s first generation BITs (starting with its BIT with Sweden in 1982) are generally considered to be conservative.  They accord Most Favored Nation (MFN) status but not National Treatment (NT).  The availability of compensation for expropriation was recognized, but the legality of the expropriation was determined by local courts.  China’s second generation of BITs followed China’s accession to the ICSID convention in 1990.  In some of these BITs, the availability of investor access to ICSID arbitration was included but was often limited to the determination of the amount of compensation for expropriation.  The third and current model made both substantive and procedural changes. One of the most important substantive changes was the addition of National Treatment protection. The most important procedural change was unqualified access to international arbitration, including ICSID arbitration.

Research Strategies:

Once I had a very general understanding of Chinese BITs, I was able to much more effectively research and analyze the China Africa BITs for this project.  My main tips for researching BITs are as follows:

1) Start with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) International Investment Agreements Navigator.  This database will give you a fairly comprehensive idea of what is generally available.  It has information on signatory and ratification dates and provides many full text treaties.

2) Use Target Countries’ International Trade Ministries. The English language page of China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) has a database of Chinese BITs.  They had the full text of several BITs that were not available via the International Investment Agreements Navigator.

3) Use Print Materials for Older BITs. One of the very best English books for any project involving Chinese BITs is Gallagher and Shan’s Chinese Investment Treaties.  In addition to having great analysis, there are reprints of several BITs in the Appendix.  This was the only place to find the Seychelles –China BIT.  Another very useful print resource, especially for older BITs, is the looseleaf set: Investment, Promotion and Protection Treaties.  This is where I found the China-Mali BIT. Research guides can also be very helpful in pointing you to print sources, as can running searches in the Google Books database.

4) Advanced & Deep Web Searching. Searching Google for BITs can often lead to frustration for a couple of reasons: 1) A basic Google search only crawls the very top layers of websites.  It won’t find anything buried.  The solution is to go directly to the target website and use their search tool to go deeper. 2) BIT is a generic term.  Although the titles vary, BITs generally have the terms “promotion and protection of investments” in them somewhere. It will help if you have model treaty language that you can track.  I also like to use the site search in Google. The advance Google search: Tanzania promotion protection investment site:mofcom.gov.cn brought up the Tanzania-China BIT which was not available in the MOFCOM Bilateral Investment Treaty database.

5) Contact Experts. While attending the ASIL conference in Washington, D.C., I stopped by the Law Library of Congress and met with several of their country specialists.  One of the China specialists found the China-Sierra Leone BIT tucked away in the AsianLII database – a place it had not occurred to me to look.

Additional Resources:

CAFLL-WestPac Recap: Continuing Education for Law Librarians and Demand-Driven Service Innovation in China

By Alex X. Zhang

CAFLLThis blog post highlights a panel discussion on two major and long-standing issues: continuing education for law librarians and demand-driven service innovation in law libraries. Both issues are important and deserve close attention in the law librarianship and legal information field. Michael Chiorazzi, Dean and Professor of Law at the Daniel Cracchiolo Law Library, University of Arizona Rogers College of Law, shared his insights on continuing education for law librarians. More specifically, he critiqued major formats and platforms that deliver continuing education content to users such as webinars, continuing education classes through colleges, workshops, networking events, etc. He emphasized the value of individual scholarship in continuing education and advocated for more sabbaticals for law librarians, claiming “they refresh and invigorate one’s enthusiasm for the profession.” He also shared his experience with managing the Law Library Fellowship program offered through the University of Arizona’s School of Information and experience teaching undergraduates legal research classes at the University of Arizona, which is the only law school in the United States that offers an undergraduate law degree. Continuing education is important in all professions and, needless to say, is necessary and essential for law librarians. Unfortunately, there has not been much discussion on what works and what does not work for the law librarians. Dean Chiorazzi’s talk challenged us to think more in depth of the topic, or in his own words, “how do we know what we need to know?”

Dr. Liu Ming, Associate Director of the Law Library of Renmin University of China, tackled an equally important problem in the law librarianship field, which is demand-driven service innovation in China. Dr. Liu Ming took a new angle and introduced us a new perspective looking at the issue that has otherwise been extensively discussed. She employed KANO theory to examine the user demands in Chinese Law Libraries and how Law Libraries in China have tried to meet user needs in three different levels. The KANO model was first introduced by Professor Noriaki Kano of Tokyo Rika University. The model was based on the valid assumption that customer needs are constantly changing and the question becomes how to meet patron’s ever-changing demands. Dr. Liu summarized demands of Chinese law library patrons under three levels: basic needs, performance and excitement demands. She argued that currently, most Chinese academic law libraries meet the basic needs of library patron, but need to further enhance the user satisfaction and promote the law libraries’ status as a legal information center as opposed to a place to collect and house books.