Second-Best Justice: The Virtues of Japanese Private Law

  • 30 Sep 2015
  • 12:00 PM
  • Harvard Law School Room WCC 2036 Milstein East C

Harvard Law School Library presents

Second-Best Justice: 

The Virtues of Japanese Private Law

Book Talk and panel discussion by author

J. Mark Ramseyer

Mitsubishi Professor of Japanese Legal Studies, Harvard Law School

Wednesday, September 30, 2015, 12:00 noon. 

Light lunch will be served

Harvard Law School Room WCC 2036 Milstein East C 

Mark Ramseyer is the Mitsubishi Professor of Japanese Legal Studies.  He spent most of his childhood in provincial towns and cities in southern Japan, attending Japanese schools for K-6. 

He returned to the U.S. for college. Before attending law school, he studied Japanese history in graduate school. Ramseyer graduated from HLS in 1982. He clerked for the Hon. Stephen Breyer (then on the First Circuit), worked for two years at Sidley & Austin (in corporate tax), and studied as a Fulbright student at the University of Tokyo. 

After teaching at UCLA and the University of Chicago, he came to Harvard in 1998. He has also taught or co-taught courses at several Japanese universities (in Japanese). 

In his research, Ramseyer primarily studies Japanese law, and primarily from a law & economics perspective. In addition to a variety of Japanese law courses, he teaches the basic Corporations course. With Professors Klein and Bainbridge, he co-edits a Foundation Press casebook in the field.

"It’s long been known that Japanese file fewer lawsuits per capita than Americans do. Yet explanations for the difference have tended to be partial and unconvincing, ranging from circular arguments about Japanese culture to suggestions that the slow-moving Japanese court system acts as a deterrent.

With Second-Best Justice, J. Mark Ramseyer offers a more compelling, better-grounded explanation: the low rate of lawsuits in Japan results not from distrust of a dysfunctional system but from trust in a system that works—that sorts and resolves disputes in such an overwhelmingly predictable pattern that opposing parties rarely find it worthwhile to push their dispute to trial. Using evidence from tort claims across many domains, Ramseyer reveals a court system designed not to find perfect justice, but to “make do” — to adopt strategies that are mostly right and that thereby resolve disputes quickly and economically.

An eye-opening study of comparative law, Second-Best Justice will force a wholesale rethinking of the differences among alternative legal systems and their broader consequences for social welfare."  -- University of Chicago Press


Book talk panelists include:

Theodore Gilman, Executive Director, Harvard Weatherhead Center for International Affairs.

Richard J. Samuels, Ford International Professor of Political Science, Director of the Center for International Studies, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Founding Director of the MIT Japan Program.

Allen Ferrell, Harvey Greenfield Professor of Securities Law, Harvard Law School. 


Harvard Law School Library
Contact for this event : 617 495 4492

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