At Harris Bricken, we keep close tabs on what is happening around the world, and we know that our friends and clients do, as well. We are happy to provide this podcast series: Global Law and Business, hosted by international attorneys Fred Rocafort and Jonathan Bench, where we look at the world by talking with business leaders, innovators, service providers, manufacturers, and government leaders around the world.
In Episode #47, we are joined by James Cooper, Associate Dean for Experiential Learning, Professor of Law, and Director of International Legal Studies at California Western School of Law. We discuss:
- The opportunities presented by the Great Reset.
- James’ intellectual property journey, from t-shirt counterfeiter to infringement victim, to U.S. delegate to World Intellectual Property Organization.
- China’s own journey, from copier to inventor.
- Proyecto ACCESO, a judicial technology transfer project, and James’ involvement with it.
- James’ pivot to a focus on blockchain.
- Teaching law.
- Whether all Canadians are polite.
- Reading, listening, and watching recommendations from:
- “Chaguan: China faces fateful choices, especially involving Taiwan,” The Economist
We’ll see you next week when we sit down with Tyler LeMasters for an uplifting and honest conversation about his campaign for a seat on the Spokane City Council and much more.
This podcast audio has been transcribed by an automatic transcriber.
Fred Rocafort 0:07
Global law and global business go hand in hand, but never seem to keep pace with each other. The importance on the global stage of developing and developed nations waxes and wanes, while consumption and interconnectedness steadily increase all the while laws and regulations change incessantly requiring businesses to stay nimble. But how do we make sense of it all? Welcome to Global Law and Business hosted by Harris Bricken International Business attorneys. I’m Fred Rocafort
Jonathan Bench 0:37
and I’m Jonathan Bench. Every week, we take a targeted look at legal and economic developments in locales around the world as we try to decipher global trends in law and business with the help of international experts. We cover continents, countries, regimes, governance, finance, legal developments, and whatever is trending on Twitter. We cover the important, the seemingly unimportant, the relatively simple and the complex.
Fred Rocafort 1:02
We hope you enjoy today’s podcast. Please connect with us on social media to comment and suggest future topics and guests.
James Cooper is Professor of Law associate dean of experiential learning and director of international legal studies at California Western School of Law. Since 1998, Professor Cooper has directed project to accessor, a judicial technology transfer project funded by governments foundations and international agencies, raising more than 5 million US dollars for this initiative. He has been a member of the US delegation to the World Intellectual Property Association, and has consulted for the US Department of Justice and state, as well as the USPTO. After more than two decades of disruption work in the legal sectors of Latin America. James’s work has recently focused on the legal regulation of emerging technologies, a Canadian barrister and solicitor, he co founded the One World blockchain Alliance and network that debuted it on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. He’s also been an advisor to blockchain companies in North America and Asia. Professor Cooper has also written extensively on FinTech and as a columnist for Coyne desk, which is featured on Yahoo Finance. James, welcome to Harris Bricken Lobel on business.
James Cooper 2:33
Thanks so much for having me, Fred and Jonathan, it’s great to be here.
Jonathan Bench 2:37
James, you know, hearing about your your bio, we obviously can’t do justice, we’d love to hear more. But also, I just need to say that you’re the kind of person that makes me feel like I’ve accomplished nothing in my career. So thank you for being the reality check. To those of us with inflated egos. We appreciate you being out there,
James Cooper 2:54
I think Thank you. And I think the problem might be that my mother didn’t make you go to law school, you probably went to law school for a different reason, my mother made me go to law school. And other people go to law school, too. But listen, we all are renaissance people waiting to blossom, the great reset is that opportunity, everyone can learn another language, everyone can get into a new platform and learning new things, new skill sets, you know, we should all this is going to go on for a little bit longer. So I’m a I’m a big fan of encouraging people to think about where it is they want the world to be a year or two years and 10 years from now and be part of that, and take the steps to do that. Anne Frank was asked to sit in an attic, in the walls of a house for two years, you know, with seven or eight other people in a pail for going to the bathroom, okay, with worry about being you know, turned over to the Nazis. We’re being asked to stay at home those of us lucky enough to get checks, and I’m very thankful to feel terribly for others. So this advices is very much fits in the category of middle class problems. But all we’re being asked to do something we’re good at, sit at home and watch TV, do your job on your computer, you got Grubhub you got Uber Eats, you got you know, Amazon delivering you things, you’ve got Netflix for entertainment, and Instacart to bring in your food, we have nothing to complain about this is the dangers of liberal democracy in too much free time. This is an opportunity for all of us to do the next right thing. And I’ve been spending trying to spend at least part of my adult years to to encourage other people as my law students or colleagues or people in the blockchain space to embrace this change in a good way. Because this is the ultimate disruption. And it can go really badly or it can go somewhat well, and it’s gone badly. Now, let’s try somewhat well.
Jonathan Bench 4:37
You know, I often play this mental game with myself, which is, if I had the discipline to not watch Netflix or Amazon Prime in the evenings for a whole month, what can I accomplish with those couple hours I spend at night right? I mean, how what kind of skill Could I develop but I already I already try and fill my day with, you know, with some of the good things you’ve mentioned, right? I’ve tried to use this as an opportunity. But I think that in knowing myself, I can always push a little bit more right to say, Well, how can I really use if I really want to learn guitar? How much am I willing to put into it? And what am I willing to sacrifice on the entertainment side of my life?
James Cooper 5:14
Yeah, and being entertained as opposed to being an input into the actual entertainment that you’re creating. Exactly. And that’s, you know, being being an author being in all senses of intellectual property. You know, my, my journey has been about intellectual property. I started off as a teenage pirate, I was artistic as a kid in in my basement with my friend Adam. And then my brother a couple of times, we made headbands, we still screened all this stuff. And we’ve you know, we look at the living room job, and then we trace it and put it into a silkscreen, and then run 200 300 headbands, and glue the things together with those glue that you use with an iron. And you know, and then go out after a contract. If people buy anything we did for Roxy, music for Queen, we got busted at the who, when of their last concert, I come to this as first a pirate in the understanding what is the gray economy, I come to all of the stuff I do as a legal professional. Because you have to be true to ourselves, one hopes, and no matter how I tried to meet Michael Corleone, I always I’ve ended up as Jerry Lewis, I was a pirate. So fast forward to 2014. And I’m sitting in the North Korea seat because they weren’t there or the Ukrainian seat at the UN General Assembly in the the alternative one in Geneva, where the World Intellectual Property Organization, they don’t have their own assembly hall. They use the other UN General Assembly Hall in Geneva for their annual meetings and for their big conventions, signings and so forth, and huge conferences. So I was there for the Advisory Committee on enforcement. So I’ve been doing some law enforcement work. And I thought, you know, what led me here, I’m now talking about protecting intellectual property. I’m now trying to promote alternatives to litigation over intellectual property, trying to create micro programs so that people can get IP, who are indigenous people who wouldn’t be part of the global trade regime, like a multinational corporation, like Bertelsmann, or Time Warner tobacco, or whatever they’re called now, or any of those other mega media companies. So there’s a journey here, and I think it’s not always linear. But for all of us in all another things we do.
Jonathan Bench 7:11
So let me back up for a second because I’m curious how you wound up from Toronto to San Diego. And of course, before you answer that, can you can you answer for me please? I’ve been on the phone lately with a lot of Canadians. Are Canadians all polite? Are there rude Canadians out there that I just haven’t met yet?
James Cooper 7:28
Jonathan Bench 7:29
Okay, good. All right. I have hope. I have hope for the world then.
James Cooper 7:31
I’ve heard of called a fake nice. I think it’s nice. But you know, I could be part of the better fake, nice than fake news. I always say we live in a world where Canadians are deemed quote, nice. And in quote, I’ll tell you one thing about them, they spell color, with a “U”. Oh, and there’s like a middle part to this piece. You just don’t go from being a pirate to trying to protect the, you know, the modern liberal democracy world in the post industrial knowledge based economy to continue to tickle its snout at the food trough of intellectual property regimes. It’s, it’s more than that. It’s not just doing the bidding of Microsoft or Madonna or Steven Spielberg, so they can get bigger swing the bulls, it’s also about trying to bring indigenous people in. But there’s a halfway point and they’re these moral rights that exist that are right of authorship, like I was talking about earlier, because I think every human being especially in this digital age, we were constantly creating stuff that’s a social media is and you know, it’s, you know, most of the time the product is ourselves. It’s like self mercantilism. And other companies are harvesting said free information, which is the conversation everybody suddenly clicked on to now like, oh, why am I getting those ads, all that stuff? Suddenly, people are like, oh, digital sovereignty matters. Not that much. But it matters. There was a middle part where when I got out of law school, I didn’t want to be a lawyer. And I worked at Baker McKenzie at the start of my career, and I took some time off and I’d always done photography. And so I ended up being a freelancer and doing a lot of work from Mary Claire, the women’s French magazine, out of Reed Elsevier actually. But you have to say 90 Claire like that. And I did a photography of for them in reportage. And sometimes I was lucky I get like Mary Claire, UK, to agree to do it and pay for the expenses. Then we go on a story to Brazil or to Nebraska actually, for a story. And I had my pictures published in the UK version. And then I got a call from an Italian agent and said, Did you give your permission from the Mary Claire story in this case, it was about a young 14 year old who was not permitted to get an abortion did that story the plate and Mary Claire and the entire town a Blair Nebraska did like this human chain around her. Most of the work I did was like it was always a legal angle to it. It’s police brutality or piracy. My artwork is informed by the kind of content I’ve learned over the years. But this Italian agent said to me, did you publish your piece and get permission to marry Claire to publish it or what were your I said no, always true, just first publication in the English language rights and after that, I sell the rights to publish it and there’s 22 other magazines that sometimes will bid on it and it’s, you know, $500 we sued Mary Claire because the They publish my photos in a magazine, Mary Claire didn’t even know about this, the El Corriere della Sera from northern Italy, which was a good paper, published it and then put the bosmere color not even my name, so I even had to write a paternity just even being said that I took the photos, but nevermind the fact they didn’t pay. So we sued them for 8 million lira at the time was like $8. It was it was 1000 Canadian at the time 6000 us and we settled, I’m sure my gag orders over but we settled for like 4000 Graziella, my new best friend got to keep $1,000 and I got 3000 and walked away like, hey, they paid 500 cool. But there was another piece to this that I didn’t mention, in my last year of law school, I went to law school in Italy. So you know, hell hath no fury like a former pirate turned photographer having his intellectual property rights violated spurn, hell hath no fury like that person spurned. And we got three large, pretty exciting
Fred Rocafort 8:02
James as I listened to this story and this evolution in your IP journey, I can’t help but find something of a parallel to what’s happened with China, and intellectual property rights. Because if you go back 20-25 years, the big story was, of course, rampant counterfeiting, and it was very difficult for foreign companies to protect their rights, in part because the system wasn’t set up, there might have been some deliberate element to it, but it was also just the lack of an infrastructure to combat counterfeiting. However, as as Chinese companies started to develop their own intellectual property, then I think that’s really when you start seeing an evolution in the Chinese legal system when it comes to to IP, because even though, they might still have mixed feelings about protecting the intellectual property rights of foreign businesses, certainly when it came to protecting the intellectual property rights of their own companies, especially powerful companies that might find themselves dealing with, with competitors, potentially in other countries, right, where we’re now China has an interest in making sure that their creations are protected, that sort of led to to a shift. So I, I can’t help but notice there’s a little bit of a parallel there, right? When, when it’s you, you know, when it’s your creation, that’s at stake, right, then that that changes everything.
James Cooper 12:22
That’s great, I’d never thought about that. And that’s a really great parallel, because in essence, my journey, it’s a great way to put it out, you know, in a way going from copier to entrepreneur, or an IP person for presenting, dealing with the international treaties and trying to encourage countries to protect intellectual property, ie American or Western intellectual property, you raise the ultimate issue, which is, China goes from being a copier nation, to, you know, the main protagonist and IP and that’s not by accident, part of made in China 2025 policy, where they want to be the leaders on AI, or 5g, or robotics or genomics or semiconductor, all that all the major industry 4.0 all that stuff blockchain, that those strategic investments, which are, by the way, are no different than us getting Boeing export subsidies, or, or giving a farm bill to Iowa farmers or ethanol of artificially. This is state subsidies, its state owned enterprises in a different way that we always criticize China about like, oh, they’re picking winners and losers, like we don’t like the Europeans done with the Common Agricultural Policy. It’s again, it’s about your snouted, the food trough. So China’s journey, not unlike mine, as you noted, was from a copier to an inventor, and all those a sure. And it suddenly matters. In fact, according to the World Intellectual Property Organization, and this is their annual report in 2013, looking at 2012, that’s the year that the China the People’s Republic started filing more pens in any way any other country in the world. And now it’s more than Japan in the EU combined. Now, there’s a caveat to that 90% of these of these patents are vacated after a year because some of them a lot of them are junk. So ones that aren’t the ones it’s, it’s the other IP that you know, that you know, number that digital wallet or online trading platforms or WeChat or whether it’s that stuff that’s the the market dominant, not just the industry dominant because but if it’s market and industry dominant, these are the the companies that are coming out of People’s Republic of China where they’ve got teams and teams and teams of engineers working on this stuff we do too. We just don’t have the same kind of strategy because we live in a federalized non command non market authoritarian economy with democracy and all the slowness that that you know that that brings. Because, you know, we have that there’s a lot of compliance. We don’t have as much compliance when it’s just about naked capitalism. Doesn’t matter who the owners are, they can be the CCP, they can be a limited liability company or they can be a Hong Kong trust, it doesn’t matter. It’s still extracting value. And so China is now in that position where it’s saying, okay, we care about IP that we’re in the post smokestack economy, we’re not just about building stupid stuff that we send to people in Walmart, you know, the plastic things we all need, the low skill, the extrusion, it’s, you know, the ugly, pollution emitting a carbon emitting now, it’s all the other stuff with it, the thought economy, and that includes, by the way, service economy, stuff like insurance, you think of the power of Jaguar, the integers of all these other engines, and the power of using blockchain over that, and how and d phi d, centralized finance. And you add to that a global trade agenda, that’s called One Belt, One Road or now a Belt and Road initiative from President Xi from September 2013, when he went to Gods extent and announced it the road one the llanddwyn, then he did the maritime one, a couple months later at the Indonesian parliament. This is hardcore. This is and there’s like more than 70 countries now. Now, none of these, these framework agreements actually are legally valid. They don’t they’re not binding. But this these secondary investment agreements where trillions of dollars have been doled out, and assets and extraction concessions have been extracted, and concluded and secured, so that every part of the of the supply chain becomes monopolistic in some sense, or it’s our tech and their tech or our internet and their internet. Their WeChat. Not here. They’re there Tick tock, eventually, not here. You know, Huawei, all that stuff, entities list for commerce, there’s different policy tools we use. But there’s definitely a competition going on. There’s definitely been a transformation which is fostered that competition. And like how we rebuild Germany and Japan after World War Two, we funded this.
Jonathan Bench 17:00
So James, let’s pivot over to Latin America, very curious to hear more about proyecto accesso. I’m one of those people who took your advice. And I’ve been studying Spanish bit by bit every day. And so I didn’t have to google translate it, but I did just to make sure I knew I knew what I was talking about. It’s project access or Access Project, right. So you know, it has something to do with IP rights. I’d love to hear exactly what the nuts and bolts of that are.
James Cooper 17:27
Thank you for asking Jonathan. Projecto Accesso Oh, it’s ACC esso is actually means access. But it also is an acronym for abogados creativos colaborandos para encontrar soluciones optimas, which in English means creative learners collaborating to find optimal solutions. Accesso: abogados creativos colaboraandos para encontrar soluciones optimas in Spanish and it’s a seaglass. It’s an acronym, because we were just a group of lawyers in first in Chile, and a Mexican myself a Canadian and an American law school. And we started to help Chile move from the inquisitorial to the adversarial system. There are certain legal technologies that North America and the Anglo Saxon Anglo American notion, not necessarily common law, but the adversarial system, and then the way laws taught through case law, and through clinics and teaching soft skills, all that stuff had to be imported, but not just imported into Latin America, but develop because there was also money at the same time, you know, free fair elections for the first time in a long time, something we should always have as well. But you know, and free and fair elections is not a liberal democracy make. So we worked with State Department and justice and the OAS, the Organization of American States and a bunch of other stakeholders, the British government, the German, we did a lot of work with GTZ, which is now called gic, which is the German government Technical Cooperation Agency, a private corporation funded by the government, but does the work of USA ID but far better, all local governments critical. So because a lot of these things have to be homegrown. They can’t you know, you can’t impose it you don’t the Spanish imposed courtesy of the French, you know, the Napoleonic code and all the other stuff that they got as part of the colonial legacy. And this is leftover and put in with that, you know, a whole indigenous rights indigenous centric agenda of trying to include people that by the way, use oral orality and orally died storytelling as part of their culture. That’s what the common law and do rather the the way that we do our criminal crime, we tell a story is even in civilized, these are our storytelling techniques. And it’s, it’s whether you, you know, you buy into the story, and then we’re damages in the case of civil or tort or put someone in jail. It’s a story. But those indigenous groups also have, believe it or not, they actually were doing adjudication of disputes. before Columbus got here. I know this comes as a huge shocker to a lot of people that we didn’t discover. The Americans they already knew, including their own version of jurists. They already knew they were there. So this notion of self determination, so I but that sort of idea has informed our work for over 20 The years and we raised millions of dollars doing this and done amazing work. And ironically, they ended me up on the front page of The Wall Street Journal in 2008, which followed with a request by Donald Trump productions True Story, shortest meeting in Hollywood, a request to turn the work that we were doing into a reality show. So this journey again, it’s about the journey. But I didn’t plan into this. But having gone to law school in Italy, and understanding the civil law system and having worked at Baker McKenzie at the end of the Cold War, and helping, you know, pave the rain forest to build the rain forest cafe, that there’s a certain a set of values of Neo liberalism that if you use it in an NGO educational way, you can do really well and do really good. And that’s what we attempted to do over the years, and helping 15 different countries move their judicial systems from the inquisitorial system, you know, based on the Spanish Inquisition, not exactly the highlight, or the hallmark of modernization or the Enlightenment, and we transitioned it to the adversarial system, with all the problems that come with it. But with a certain panoply of rights, like due process, the right to hear that you’re the you know, the evidence, the rights of a public defender, the right not to be arbitrarily detained, those sorts of things.
So we are, after 20 odd years of doing this, it still exists, but in the form of an online LLM in Spanish through our law school, which brings in over 100 students a year. And I’m really proud of that, because it’s sustainable now, and not grant driven. But the skill sets in oral argument, but also sec, you know, not just oral trials, and case law and teaching, you know, legal education modules, and developing curricula with America with the Latin American law schools. But as the world move towards this more enlightenment, adversarial system and a series of judicial processes away from opaque, closed trials to oral trust, then went to civil law, and then issues of intellectual property law. Because you know, global, how do you, I want you to have a rule of law, which is good for everybody, corporations, women’s groups, student groups, human rights activists, indigent who doesn’t like the rule of law, you can have rule of law and like traditional healing circles and other stuff for indigenous. But so rule of law is good. I don’t think I’ve never had anybody say no, yes, it’s based on patriarchy. And all you know, there are capitalist overtones to it and all that, put that argument to say, at least we can have the conversation that we can agree on, the role of law is a good thing. If you bind to that, then there’s a series of next disruptive steps that one can take. And I’ve been working outside of excessive in that in the law and technology spaces, to try to find ways to apply what I learned there in this new area. And it’s been that it’s, it’s been an amazing trip, which I’d love to tell you about the blockchain work,
Jonathan Bench 22:51
I have to inject one thing. If you’re talking to the Spanish Inquisition, that legacy that reminded me of something I just found when I was studying Chinese the other day, I found a word in Chinese for the punishment of cutting off someone’s toes or their feet as punishment, right has like, it’s a very common part of a very common character. And I wouldn’t have known it unless I kind of dug into it. And so it’s kind of shocked me, although I’ve found that from time to time in my Chinese study, so it doesn’t really shock me. But it’s, it’s just amazing how, especially in a language like Chinese, where the where the culture, there’s so much culture embedded in the language, right? other other languages, it’s harder to find it. But Chinese it’s often right there in front of your face. Just an interesting tidbit I found.
James Cooper 23:39
Yeah, it’s interesting. And it’s kind of a systematization of brutality.
Jonathan Bench 23:42
James Cooper 23:43
Like waterboarding, which was not invented after 911. It goes to the Spanish Inquisition, that was extra hard, actually difficult was was doing rule of law work during the Bush administration, where we were becoming more and more inquisitorial, through Pfizer, and all this other in Guantanamo, rendition, all that stuff. We were looking at in the techniques, we were looking more like the inquisitorial system here in the West. And then Latin America was this idea of moving away from confessions and using real evidence and changing the burden of proof and creating reasonable doubt and new standards. And, and just the very foundational notion of instead of the defendant being an object of an investigation, like it was in the civil law tradition, to to the subject with human rights, a broad panoply of civil and political rights, which, by the way, internationally, Chile abolished, they all signed on to the iccpr, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights from 1966, which went into force and so they just didn’t, you know, domestically, legislator, make it. Any legal system that is going to be worth itself has to have norms, rules and institutions to enforce those norms and rules, norms, rules in institutions, but our effective enforcement and legal system isn’t really working. So in work in trying to move to a new Another era of that, I started looking I was really interested in blockchain and other technologies and how one can infuse, like, in the Chinese language, you were saying that that icon or that the letter that is, you know, discussing corporal punishment in a very brutal way, but effective. You know, the inquisitorial system was super effective in terms of prosecution rate. The question is, how do you infuse ethics and rules and standards? and certain norms? What are foundational norms like you don’t cut people’s hands off for stealing? Can we have that as an understanding where we don’t, you know, engage in a FGM cutting or we don’t engage in arguments, or we don’t engage in sweeping people off the street and putting them into black sides? Or we don’t know, there are standing? So where’s the floor? Where you know, and then how do you build that discussion out of out of that without engaging in moral relativism? Now you put all that kind of stuff that you know, something about, we know something about liberal democracy, and 50 years after the Cold War, which we won, I think, I don’t know, winning means kazuaki nuclear scientist driving cabs in New York, but it gets out to win. So what is the dividend? What determines all this tech, making our life easier and easier, this peace dividend that we’re supposed to get? Because we’re at the end of history is now we just moved to better and better ways to buy things. So and then digitization they came as a result of the reset. So I’m just really into how do you infuse that that those ideas, the overlay of what human rights, what order? What sequence? Do you develop the tech and then you do the ethics? And then the deal with implicit bias? Or do you build in your team people that know about implicit bias and want to prevent it and build that into the code? What’s the right what’s the right order, record the right sequence. And that’s what I’ve been thinking a lot about writing a bit and helping with some blockchain companies a bit. Because, you know, regulators, this is getting so ahead of regulators, and it’s so inherently antithetical the regulation blockchain and and I think it’s going to change our jobs as lawyers, smart contracts AI used in discovery. And we’ve not, you know, our law schools are still, you know, catching up to the fax machine. So that’s been been keeping me up a little bit at night as an administrator and trying to find figure out, how do you pivot from this kind of, we teach online, we practice online? How do you change legal education to reflect those forced pivots, it would have taken us a lot longer had we not had three weeks or a week to shut down to move to online classes. Whenever you know, it was literally a week, we’re suddenly online. That was amazing, not in a good way that it had to happen, but because it would have taken us years, culturally, institutionally to do those things. Now we’re in that kind of hyper mode. How does law – what role does law play now? So that’s what I’ve been thinking about.
Fred Rocafort 27:44
With this, I’d like to ask you about this, this shift in your work. And I’d like to mention that when we first got in touch it, it was basically because we were both working in the IP field. I remember you were supposed to give a presentation in Hong Kong, and you were unable to, to make it back in the day when this was not that common you You called him through through Skype. I mean, nowadays, that’s, you know, normal, but of course, back then it was like, Oh, that’s, that’s interesting. Somebody in in North America is communicating with us over over the internet. But certainly, and I’ve noticed right as I as I follow your your work and your publications, there’s been that that shift toward emerging technologies. And, of course, that at one level, it’s it’s, it’s self explanatory. I mean, it’s something that’s with us it’s something that’s of interest. But I wonder if there were specific triggers for for that shift, right? Whether there were moments where you read something or heard something, or or simply had a particular realization that this was that this was important.
James Cooper 28:51
Thanks for that question. There’s like lots of little moments where all that came together, the part of the shift away from for me, you know, after 20 years of working in Latin America, our work is never done democracy and rule of law work. It’s like it’s constantly tinkering to make things better. And it’s what law fair using law to make social change to the pivot to a new kind of system or REITs are doing legally without violence. That’s what the rule of law is about. It’s moving in increments. But sometimes there’s some huge sweeps that happened when stuff becomes a law of land through the supreme court or new piece of legislation that gets passed and signed into law and enforced over time. I didn’t participate in web or internet 1.0 or 2.0. I really I 1.0. Yeah, I was I was an early adopter. I was early using zoom in early doing a couple of things but 12 is still flashing on my VCR at home metaphorically and I never learned how to program the darn thing. I remember I gave a talk about regulation and infusing human rights into blockchain work and or how it could be used for for human rights work. couple kids from the People’s Republic of China, on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum came over to me At the Hard Rock Hotel where we had this 3d one world blockchain, these kids are like half my age. So one of them what’s happening. And so the two of them together were my age. And I always like saying, you know, my boss from China was half my age, this kid walked over and said, Hey, I really like what you’re doing. Would you like to be CEO of our blockchain company out of Beijing? And, and then I thought, you know, I missed out on this whole, like, their whole, I didn’t have a LinkedIn page, it kept saying, his issue is usually I say, No, no, no, I don’t have LinkedIn, I have a job. There’s no, no, that’s not what it’s worth. And so I went from, like, no, online presence, aside from the law school website, and some pre access and stuff, you know, a few things in the news to WeChat in line and WhatsApp and I, you know, stickers and, and, you know, you talk about Jonathan said, you know, all the television is watching, if you just applied it to a better end, and maybe, and there’s nothing, you know, you got to do the, you know, detox at the end of the day. But I thought of all the time, that time I used on that, I used to be really upset with myself when I got hooked on jersey shore. And I watched, I think, all six or seven years. And, you know, I was all I knew everything about Snooki and Pauly and the situation. And I thought I added up the hours in this, I couldn’t finish my PhD thesis by them with although at that time, that was just not, there was not good time. That was not a good use of time. But when these kids came over to me and said, You know, I can jumpstart I could move from 12 on the VCR to doing blockchain I thought, okay, that I can I can make this work because it’s disruptive technology. It was part of the linear pattern of one my career and of how life was moving, that we were, you know, and things are, you know, the exponential growth on all things on tech on innovation rollout on the next new thing, it’s just, it’s so much more sped up than for us, you know, moving from Australopithecus man to Homo erectus are in you know, with a little bit of homosapien in, you know, in all of that, it’s that linear, I could jumpstart and I like the idea of jumpstart natural, the work we do in Latin America, you know, moving people that don’t even have rule of law, we’re there and saying we’re going from the Inquisitor to the average, so they don’t even know about it. The ultimate in neoliberalism, it’s called self help. They were doing it themselves through indigenous work, which I studied for a couple of years and spent some time working in the in Bolivia and with the Government of Libya, on infusing those ideas into their 411. Chapter, a constitution from 2009.
Jonathan Bench 32:26
James, before we started recording, we had talked briefly about Clubhouse. It’s been a hot thing, the last, you know, six weeks or so since it launched. What do you think about it? What what? What’s your take? I mean, I have my thoughts as well. But I’m here every week, and we only have you here today. So please tell us kind of what’s your hot take on it? What’s you know, it’s been in the news quite a bit, especially regarding China too. But I mean, feel free to answer it any way you want to do you think it’s a good idea? Is it? Is it new, it feels like a radio show that everyone gets to dictate who who can actually speak right. So that’s my that’s my overview, but but please give us your thoughts.
James Cooper 33:04
Thanks for asking, Jonathan. I’m new to it. But we’re all new to it. I didn’t know about it a month ago, and I just kept hearing about it from different people, to chats and through. We did a conference on zoom and some guy in Taiwan, I know, wrote me and said you should do your thing on Clubhouse. Like what’s clubhouse? And it’s a no we’re gonna have PowerPoints we’re gonna have we can’t we can’t do that. We’ve already put up the zoom link. But I am excited to get on because when people are new to digital Davos and called on Davos and underground Davos group of really hip cats of journalists and technologists and cryptographers, and regulators they all get together every year now they’re on online through through telegram so I got on and they set up their own chats I’ve people I haven’t, I guess it attacks your I don’t allow these things, hopefully to get to my contact list. But I must be my email my information must be on somebody else’s contact list because I got some invites somebody vouched for me felt like the mafia, right at the beginning, because I had to have somebody vouch for me. But to get the invitations, you have to give away your your contact list, and I’m not giving that thing out. So short answer is, I’ve attended a couple of I’ve attended a couple of calls, I’ve been really interested in the groups, I’m looking at who’s in the groups and how they describe themselves. I see it, I don’t know if it’s a serious, serious because people are using it. And some group of doctors I’ve been working with on a project, we might host something on it. But um, you know, it could be the next big thing and then that’s great. And then there’ll be something else next week. And then week after and I’m I’d like to have something for a little bit before they changed my own system at all. It’s different. You know, it’s, there’s a difference for somebody for a legal professional as made 50s or their mid 50s. You know what I need I, again, that’s why I missed Facebook the first time around, and nobody needs to know what I ate for lunch or who I’m saying. There’s a reason you don’t know. What I’m doing today is because I don’t want you to know there’s only so It’s nobody needs that level of granularity and scrutiny in their life or to give up that information to a for profit corporation that harvests and commercializes that information that just seemed wrong.
Fred Rocafort 35:12
So I’d like to turn now to your academic experience you’ve taught all over the world, you’re you’re in San Diego now, but you’ve had, you’ve had stints teaching in Scotland, Canada, Macau, Germany, etc. So, I guess, perhaps a starting point to discuss this topic is the fact that while I’m sure there’s a lot of lawyers out there that think about a career in academia, perhaps as adjuncts maybe not necessarily making the jump to being full full professors, but probably something that that is of interest to some of our listeners. So I’d like to hear your perspectives generally on on what it’s like to teach on how that shift perhaps would would work for for people who have been working at firms or a government department and might perhaps idealize a little bit that the what what that shift would entail. And while we’re, while we’re on the subject, generally, you talked earlier about the the great reset. So how has that impacted you and your students, I hear a lot about what what impact the pandemic has had on the educational setting, both of my parents are professors. So I know that they’re, they’ve struggled with that continue to do so. I haven’t experienced that myself. And for me, personally, the experience has been rather positive for most of what has shifted in my life towards zoom and other platforms. By and large, the experience has been has been a good one, right? There’s been a lot of pluses that have come with it. But I know that it’s very different when you’re in that academic setting where the audience is not as disciplined or, or, or as experienced, even when it comes to receiving instruction. So I’d love to I’d love to hear about that. And like I said, We’d love to hear your thoughts generally on teaching and what that means for a lawyer in particular?
James Cooper 37:02
That’s a really good question, Fred, because lawyers, and legal educators are going through the same thing, we’re all being forced to pivot online. It just so it’s, it’s it’s a unique experience to, you have to, in a way, invent while you’re reinvent the teaching while you’re reinventing the, the profession. And no one knows, you know, when everyone’s going to be back, and so forth. And all the as as the vaccine gets rolled out. So short answer is, it’s been very, it’s been fluid from a teaching perspective. COVID For me, personally, and I think for our institution, I was very impressed with my colleagues, ability to pivot. I’ve been teaching online since 2003, using AI chat, the precursor of FaceTime, I did my first one in Bolivia, using AI chat and Wi Fi, and it was amazing, or maybe even the Ethernet connection, but it was an amazing experience. And I taught in Germany once in person, 2014 year before I’d gotten yelled, I couldn’t do it 2013 to spend, you know, 510 lectures for two hours each over a week. And after two weeks, it was amazing experience. And I keep in touch with some of those people, I’ve never met them. I’d never met them in person. So I guess I was a climatized. Early to this, our online LLM in Spanish in oral advocacy with Vladimir for Latin American lawyers, which gets over 100 students a year. We pioneered that in 2014, first year online using zoom. So I feel comfortable with this medium now doing it as you know, changing last year without having thought it through. Because we had to do it in the last couple of weeks of law school in 2020. And that was hard for a lot of people because it was just so drastic. But now I’ve set up my my office, I you know, I’m noting you’ve got the the professional microphone, I’ve been thinking like I should just get some lights, because I treat it like a TV show, like a talk show or a radio show. But I do it where I have two turntables from the previous experiences in music, and I’ll put it with with monitors and I’ll spin old at stuff that’s related to the whatever lecture we’re going to be doing. So I played the band Japan, visions of China yesterday, when I was talking about the Belt and Road initiative, I probably should have played Chinese news a bit. This was David Sylvian and when artists really started to embrace Chinese culture. And that’s really the theme of yesterday’s lecture, but I’m trying to curate and spend more time thinking about images, a little bit of videos, staying with the same picture. You know, people use PowerPoint, and that’s cool, or Keynote or Prezi. And I think that’s all helpful. Sometimes I’ll just show them what’s on my screen what I’m thinking about and I’ll find seven eight things that I’ll use and close down everything else so that they can get to it and then I’ll stay after class. office hours are somewhere between never and always, you know, there I’m always available. But you know, being always available, other people gonna want to talk to you too. So I’m praying to leave 10 minutes late, but I’ll see lots of people in a day. And it’s not the same as what it was before. It can be equally soulful. I will give you that you can still get your message across in a kind and supportive way, and sometimes as speak truth, at the same time without being stinging, the backhanded compliments we were talking about earlier, or false Praise be damned. Not that stuff that we’re talking about pre show, but you could show your concern. There’s still ways to do that and empathy across the digital world. Yeah, I miss everyone. I’m a very physical teacher, I use it as theater. I do mine I you know, we do reenactments and tort law as cases of the facts of the case. You know, there’s a lot of participation or a walk between the making sure they’re not playing solitaire, but I walk between the students and yell out things like I got my rights, you know, stuff like that. Or I did a whole Jack and Diane thing when we were doing one of these cases, and it was very, very JAck and Diane John Cougar Mellencamp, there’s a lot of 80s. There’s a lot of 12th lashing, but I missed that part, the visceral part of the takedown, the teaching the touching of a classroom, a podium, that part I have to admit is, is tough, but I think you’re right in the sense of lawyers, because you might not see because if you’re doing a drafting work, you might not see clients, you know, there’ll be days, you might have a client tie day, where you have to put on your tie into a client to client meetings. And maybe that’s the case now we all have zoom tops. That’s a thing. But again, I think there’s something still that, you know, that’s not quite normal about all this, but we’ll have to get used to it because we’re in for a little bit longer.
Jonathan Bench 41:43
James, it’s been a delight to have you with us on the podcast today. And we always like to end with asking our guests or recommendations, something that you’ve read something you’ve seen something you’ve listened to lately. That would be interesting. Or it could be something from you know, from your you’re always your go to bag of tricks, right I have some some books that I always listened to or read, you know, kind of on a recurring basis. So what recommendations do you have for us today?
James Cooper 42:08
I’ve been reading some Roberto Bolaño, Chilean author who passed away in the 90s he’s brilliant, Savage Detectives, Night on Earth, One Night on Earth. There’s collections of short stories. But he’s he’s and you got to have some time for it. I haven’t finished it, but it’s been really good. And I’ve been binge watching with my family and since they’ve been watching watch one or two a night one, usually one, The Crown. And I that’s been fun with my 11 year old. And trying to you know, again, Canadian spelling color, with a U just understanding the British and I think that’s a that’s a really good exercise. And it’s just so beautifully shot and so beautifully written and acted. And we’ll do we have a night we called books and snacks, where instead of watching TV, well sit around and everybody picks a book in our family and we just sit and we grapes and cheese or whatever, or almonds and we’ll we’ll read a book of for three of us, four of us on a couch. So it’s a that’s a fun ritual.
Jonathan Bench 43:17
Sounds great. I should do that with my kids as well.
James Cooper 43:20
I should tell you, I have rediscovered some amazing music from the 80s just going through my entire, and my grandparents collection. I’ve gone through all their records and Frank Sinatra and Connie Francis and Italian strings. You know, there’s some old analog stuff that I also like to get my kid and to do that. He plays electric guitar. I heard you said you’re learning guitar. And I play drums. So we’ve been redoing a lot of new order songs and sort of non New Wave more rock.
Jonathan Bench 43:50
One of my favorite 80s bands. Absolutely. Fred, what about you? What do you have for us today?
Fred Rocafort 43:55
Well, first of all, I just like to point out that The Crown has now entered the privilege space of being a double recommendation on the on the podcast, it was actually my recommendation that during our last recording I completely agree. Great window into into the UK, of course and the cinematography is fantastic. Most of the acting is also pretty good. Although there are a couple of casting choices that I I take issue with. So let me re endorse the crown as a recommendation in terms of of my own recommendations, as readers of The Economist will know there’s a regular column on China called Chaguan. And I think this is their most recent column dated February 20 edition. So it’s out online not not not yet out in print. The title of the of the most recent installment is China Faces Fateful Choices, Especially Involving Taiwan. It’s a sobering read even for someone like me who who follows China and Taiwan issues closely. I think it’s one of the most succinct, let’s say excellent have wide Is this a problem? I think there there’s you can, you can definitely find some fascinating conversations taking place out there about Taiwan. And there’s all kinds of speculation as to what could happen. And you know, you have to look at Chinese policymaking and of course, possible us responses. But I think this this column really, really narrowed it down and very starkly explains why this is a problem and why wishing it away is not a good approach. And I’d like to take advantage of this opportunity. I don’t really know where else to do it. Within the within the podcast, maybe we’ll have to come up with a better solution. But I’d like to send greetings to Simon Eagleman, one of our loyal listeners, he reached out with some guests recommendations. And we do we do appreciate those. So for all of you out there, please, please reach out to us. We’d love to hear from you. So Jonathan, what about you? What are your recommendations for this week,
Jonathan Bench 45:56
I recently got on to CSIS’ mailing list, CSIS is the DC based Think Tank called the Center for Strategic and International Studies. And I learned about them when I was in law school in DC. They’re very focused on kind of promoting really deep thoughts around national security. And that’s kind of global security. Right. And they’re, like their website says they trying to influence key decision makers, and working toward a vision of a safer and more prosperous world. So economics always comes into play, as well as we’re talking about kind of global security in a broad sense. So I don’t have any specific recommendations from them yet, I recommend getting on their mailing lists like I am because I get hit two or three times a day, I think, in my email, with programs with policy papers that have been put out, and the content is exceptionally good. And I wish I had time to read everything. But I encourage you to get on the mailing list and see what’s there. If you’re, I mean, I assume that our listeners enjoy international things as much as we do. And that’s certainly something that we all, we all coalesce around here. So recommend that csis.org and I’ll probably provide some more detailed recommendations as I as I dig deeper into into what they have available. And with that, James, we want to thank you again for being with us. It’s been a lot of fun, and we hope you’ll join us again at some point in the future.
James Cooper 47:19
I look forward to it. Thank you both for hosting me and hello to all your listeners and thanks.
Jonathan Bench 47:29
We hope you enjoyed this week’s episode, we look forward to connecting with you on social media to continue discussing developments in global law and business. This podcast was produced by Harris Bricken with executive producer Madeline Williams music composed by Stephen Schmid. Tune in next week for another episode. We’ll see you then.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai