Frank K. Upham
Frank Upham teaches first-year Property, law and development, and a variety of courses and seminars on comparative law and society with an emphasis on East Asia and the developing world. He was the Faculty Director of the Global Law School Program from 1997-2002 and is the founder and co-faculty director of the Global Public Service Law Project, which brings activist lawyers primarily from the developing world for an LLM in Public Service Law.
Upham graduated from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University in 1967 and the Harvard Law School in 1974. From 1967 and 70, Upham taught in the Department of Western Languages at Tunghai University in Taichung, Taiwan, and was a freelance journalist in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos, covering the war for Time, Sports Illustrated, and other publications. Before moving to NYU in 1994, he had taught at Ohio State, Harvard, and Boston College law schools.
Upham has spent considerable time at various institutions in Asia, including as a Japan Foundation Fellow and Visiting Scholar at Doshisha University in 1977, as a Research Fellow of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science at Sophia University in 1986, and as a visiting professor at Tsinghua University in Beijing in 2003. He speaks Chinese and French, as well as Japanese. His scholarship has focused on Japan, and his book Law and Social Change in Postwar Japan received from Harvard University Press the Thomas J. Wilson Prize in 1987. The book is generally viewed as the standard reference for discussions of Japanese law and its social and political role in contemporary Japan. More recently he has begun researching and writing about Chinese law and society and about the role of law in social and political development more generally.
In 1999, Upham founded the Global Public Service Law Project, which he continues to co-direct with Prof. Holly Maguigan. The Project was inspired by Upham’s realization, gained by working with both Japanese and American environmental and human rights lawyers, that there were very few institutional opportunities for activist lawyers throughout the world to learn from each other and to form the professional networks that are common for global commercial lawyers. This isolation is particularly acute for activist and public interest lawyers in the Third World. The Project addresses this need by bringing up to fifteen such lawyers to NYU each year, where they learn from each other, the rest of the student body, and the faculty before returning to their practices with the additional resources and training necessary to be more effective on the global stage.