The China Program -
The Academy at Work
Feeling the need to make a lasting contribution to society, the Academy sent lawyers to numerous countries behind the Iron Curtain of Asia and Eastern Europe. The group wrestled with the overwhelming task of helping to develop the rule of law in developing nations. Concluding that focusing on one nation would be the most efficient way to make immediate impact, the group chose to concentrate on the vastness of China. Determined to make a difference in this international arena, the Academy initiated a relationship with the Chinese people by organizing The China Program in 1994. Proposed and launched by then Academy President Raymond J. Tam, The China Program, in a few short years, has become a model for private efforts to help develop the legal, economic and financial infrastructure of China.In 2009, IATL Fellow Jim McManis and his wife, Sara Wigh, were appointed as Co-Chairs of The China Program, continuing to build upon its success. What began as part of a sightseeing tour in October, 1994, soon gained rapid momentum as one of China’s most ambitious cooperative development efforts with representatives of the western world. For what that group of trial lawyers saw clearly on that initial friendship tour was not just The Great Wall of China or the Forbidden City. Perhaps the most awe-inspiring sight was the hunger and thirst that was evident from the Chinese people for any and all legal advice and knowledge concerning the rule of law. The China Program is an ongoing effort that includes regular visits by some of the most respected attorneys in the United States, visits that include work shops, seminars and information exchanges with those in China charged with drafting new laws that will help China emerge as a world leader. The Program continues to be responsible for bringing these Chinese lawyers and leaders to the United States to visit in American homes, witness American courtrooms and trials in progress as well as countless legal activities that are otherwise so difficult for a foreign people to understand.
The success of the program is already evidenced in new Chinese legal codes governing business and private life ranging from aviation to construction. The China Program, supported by corporate contributions worldwide and privately by Academy Fellows, is an effort that is a satisfying and resounding success for the Academy and its members.
The Circle of Honor is made up of Fellows of the Academy who have hosted a delegate over the history of the China Program. Click here to view the Circle of Honor.
In addition to the China program, IATL has also built three houses in South Africa, funded through charitable contributions from IATL Fellows under the Housing Trust Program.