Daniel H. Foote, International Contracting Meets Information Technology: Tales from a Transpacific Seminar, 10 Zeitschrift für Japanisches Recht/J. Japanese L. 69 (2005), https://digitalcommons.law.uw.edu/faculty-articles/1003
The following account is in essence a personal memoir concerning the first year of what, at the time, was a novel course offering: an international negotiation simulation, conducted transnationally, in which teams of students from the University of Tokyo utilized e-mail, videoconference facilities, and other resources to negotiate a major acquisition agreement with teams of students from the University of Washington. I originally wrote the account in 2001. As of this writing, in early 2005, we have just completed the fifth year of the course; and in the interim, professors at a number of other universities have established courses along similar lines, including the course offering discussed by Kent Anderson in his article in this volume. Rather than attempt to rewrite the following article in its entirety to reflect all of the developments in the intervening four years, I have elected to retain it in its original form, as a contemporary account of the first year of what has proven to be a successful experiment. Where intervening developments warranted inclusion, I have added updates in brackets.
In August 2000, I left a professorship at the University of Washington (UW) School of Law to assume the chair in Law and Society at the University of Tokyo (Tokyo Daigaku, hereinafter shortened to Todai) Faculty of Law. Traditionally, when a Jaw faculty in Japan hires a professor laterally from another university, the dean at the new school pays a personal visit to the dean of the prior school, to apologize and to request formal permission to consummate the hire. In my case, that ritual took the form of an exchange of letters between the two deans. In their exchange, Dean Sasaki Takeshi of the Todai Faculty of Law and Dean Roland Hjorth of the UW School of Law both pledged to use my move as an opportunity to expand the already substantial ties between the two schools.
As one step in that direction, for my first seminar at Todai I decided to undertake a project that represented a new venture for both schools: a truly transpacific international contracting seminar, offered jointly by the two schools. The centerpiece of the seminar was to be a simulation, in which teams of students from UW and teams of students from Todai would utilize e-mail and interactive video to negotiate and draft a corporate acquisition agreement.
I encountered sufficient hurdles and setbacks along the way that, with less than a month to go before the start of the semester, I was ready to throw in the towel. I'm thankful I did not do so, for the seminar turned out to be the most exciting and rewarding teaching experience I've ever had. I offer the following account in the hope others might learn from my experiences with a transpacific seminar.