Website Advisory Committee

The ASCL continues to grow its global outreach efforts. Under the guidance of ASCL President Richard Kay, the ASCL has constituted a new Website Advisory Committee, comprised of the following members: Richard Albert Shawn Boyne Josh Karton Boris Mamlyuk (ex officio) Fernanda Nicola Yaniv Roznai […]

CFP: YCC’s 8th Annual Conference

The deadline for submitting proposals to the 8th Annual Conference of the Younger Comparativists Committee of the ASCL is fast approaching — January 31, 2019. We encourage everyone to spread the CFP.

Remembering Alan Watson

The Society notes with sadness the passing on November 7, 2018, of Professor Alan Watson at the age of 85. He was a giant in the fields of Roman and comparative law, as the Society recognized when it awarded him its Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012. In 2005, his colleagues at the University of Belgrade established in his honor the Alan Watson Foundation, dedicated to international cooperation in the fields of comparative law and legal history. Curiously his given name was actually William Alexander Jardine Watson, but he was known to everyone as Alan Watson, and that is the name under which most of his numerous articles and books were published.

Alan was a prodigious scholar, publishing nearly 150 books and articles, and he was well-equipped to be a comparative scholar with his mastery of more than a dozen languages. He was first and foremost a world-renowned expert on Roman law, which was the first focus of his career. He wrote his doctoral thesis on Roman law under the supervision of David Daube at Oxford. In addition to the many books and articles he published in the field, he will long be known as the editor of the second edition of the definitive four-volume English translation of the Digest of Justinian, the most significant collection of original Roman law writings that has come down to us. The translation and publication was a project that took seven years and for which Alan assembled a team of thirty specialists.


His work extended way beyond Roman law and includes comparative law more generally, legal history, and law and religion. He wrote books about the law in the Gospels, including the trial of Jesus, and one of his last books is a blistering critique of American legal education. In each field in which he wrote, he challenged conventional understandings and added new insights. Alan’s early work transformed our knowledge of law in the Roman Republic by disputing the commonly held view that the Digest, which purports to be excerpts from the writings of leading jurists of the Republic and the beginning of imperial rule, was full of interpolations reflecting the law of the much later Byzantine period, when it was compiled. Alan argued that there were very few interpolations as to substance in the law of the Digest and that the law of the period reflected in the Digest often differed substantially from later Roman law.

His book Legal Transplants: An Approach to Comparative Law (1974; 2d ed. 1993) gave us the now widely used term “legal transplants” to describe legal ideas and institutions from one legal system that are taken up into another. But it also challenged conventional thinking about comparative law by arguing that comparative law as an academic discipline should be centered on a study of the relationship between one legal system and another, and especially on the borrowings that one such system has made from another, because this kind of study best enables us to see the factors that shape legal growth and change. For this reason, Alan insisted that a study of legal transplants should be at the center of comparative law. In Society and Legal Change (1977; 2d ed. 2001), Alan built on his focus on legal transplants to challenge those who would see a tight connection between society and law. He argued to the contrary that much law that is dysfunctional, inconvenient, or even contrary to the interests of the elites who have the power to change the law nevertheless stays in effect for long periods of time, even for centuries in many cases.

Alan was originally from Scotland, and he took his M.A. and LL.B. at Glasgow and then went to Oxford where he was awarded a bachelor’s, master’s, doctor of philosophy and doctor of civil law degrees. He also held a doctor of laws degree from the University of Edinburgh and six honorary degrees from the universities of Belgrade, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Palermo, Pretoria, and Stockholm. He was awarded the Douglas Chair at the University of Glasgow, and a few years later, he moved to the University of Edinburgh, where he held the Chair in Civil Law until 1980. In that year he moved to the United States, first as a professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, where he was the holder of the Nicolas F. Gallicchio Chair and a University Professor, and then at the University of Georgia, where he held the Ernest P. Rogers Chair at University of Georgia School of Law. He taught for more than 20 years at Georgia before retiring in 2012. In 1997, he was elected a Visiting Honorary Professor of Private Law at the University of Edinburgh, the highest honorary award bestowed by that Scottish faculty.

He also lectured widely around the United States and the world, including in such countries as Italy, Holland, Germany, France, Poland, South Africa, Israel, and Yugoslavia. He was involved in discussion about the development of a common law for the European Union, and at the request of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), he worked with a colleague to revise the draft civil code for the Republic of Armenia.

The Society extends its sympathies to Alan’s wife Professor Camilla Emanuel Watson at the University of Georgia School of Law and to his three children and three grandchildren.

John C. Reitz
Edward Carmody Professor of Law
University of Iowa, College of Law

CFP: 2019 Comparative Law Work-in-Progress

The Call for Papers for the 2019 Comparative Law Work-in-Progress Workshop is now live. 

Former Pres. Vivian Curran’s Letter to Prof. Kono

Former Pres. Vivian Curran’s Letter to Prof. Kono

Following the closing of the XXth Congress of the International Academy of Comparative Law (IACL), the former President of the American Society of Comparative Law sent a message of gratitude on behalf of the ASCL to Distinguished Professor Toshiyuki Kono of the Faculty of Law […]

YCC Speaker’s Corner (Fukuoka, Japan)

We are excited to share a video from the IACL XXth Congress in Fukuoka, Japan. Thank you to everyone who participated in this engaging new format, and thank you to John Haskell (Manchester) and Richard Albert (Texas) for sharing this with the global ASCL community.

The 2018 YCC Speaker’s Corner includes policy conversations with: Felix Chang, Jurgen Goossens, Joanne Huang, Oguzhan Keskin, Sally Brown Richardson, & Tim Webster.

U.S. National Reports to the 2018 IACL Congress

U.S. National Reports to the 2018 IACL Congress

The latest supplement to The American Journal of Comparative Law contains United States national reports to the Twentieth International Congress of Comparative Law, currently being held in Fukuoka, Japan, from 22-28 July 2018.  The reports are free to read online now.  

ASCL18@Fukuoka Page Now LIVE

ASCL18@Fukuoka Page Now LIVE

We are excited to share the webpage we developed with information for the 2018 ASCL Annual Meeting in Fukuoka, Japan on July 22-28, 2018 (held concurrently with the XXth International Academy of Comparative Law (IACL) Congress. We hope you find it informative. As we get more […]

Countdown to 2018 Annual Meeting

Countdown to 2018 Annual Meeting

The 2018 Annual Meeting of the American Society of Comparative Law (ASCL) will be held concurrently with the XXth International Academy of Comparative Law (IACL) Congress from  July 22 to July 28, 2018.  We are honored and humbled by the openness of the city of Fukuoka, Japan, which will serve as the convention site for our meetings.

In one month, hundreds of leading practitioners, scholars, and academics from the field of comparative law and allied disciplines will meet in Fukuoka, Japan to exchange ideas, experiment with new modes of knowledge production, and forge ties for future collaborative projects.

While they are discrete in an organizational sense, the ASCL & IACL meetings will build on a rich history of intellectual and professional collaboration between the respective learned societies. From past experience, we know that the meetings and plenary sessions will showcase some of our discipline’s best thinking and highlight our most audacious aspirations.  From the standpoint of attendees, presenters, and participants, the “Fukuoka 2018 meeting” will doubtlessly be a comparative law week to remember.

“Let us gather not only to broaden our own horizons; let us seek to broaden the world’s horizons.” -@ASCLConnect

We are mindful that many of our professional friends may not be able to travel to Fukuoka this year.  We know that, as in any conference of this size, there might be last-minute program changes or logistical hiccups.  As important, we also know that brilliant insights and pioneering work can be overlooked over the course of a week-long high-level comparative law marathon.

To broaden the mindshare, reach, and global impact of this historic meeting, we ask that participants and their supporters actively share their insights, feedback, lessons (and, of course, photos!) on social media via @ASCLConnect and/or #FukuokaCL.

Here at @ASCLConnect, we have developed a Fukuoka’18/ASCL’18 webpage that can serve as a central repository for substantive & logistical info in connection with the meeting.  If you have materials that you would like to include on this page, please email them to the ASCL Information Officer, Boris Mamlyuk.

We anticipate periodic updates to the ASCL’18 page through the end of July 2018, so please check back regularly for news. Until then, here is a link to IACL meeting information, including registration and very useful logistical information.

Thank you,


Pres. Curran on 2018 Annual Meeting

Pres. Curran on 2018 Annual Meeting

Dear Colleagues, I am happy to announce that we will be having our next annual business meeting on Wednesday July 25 in Fukuoka. Registration is open on the site of the International Academy of Comparative Law. On July 26, we will have our annual dinner. […]