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Pursuit of mutual understanding

As young lawyers, we tend to be bombarded with invitations to attend seminars, lectures, workshops, CLEs, roundtables, brown bag lunches, networking events, cocktail events and other non-billable educational and community-based activities. These invitations can come from other attorneys in our own firms, friends, bar associations, courts and our alma maters.

It can be hard to pick which events to attend, and — try as you might — you can’t attend them all.

Sometimes you attend an event because it relates to your practice area. Sometimes you go in support of an event sponsor or speaker. Sometimes, you go because you want to get involved with the organization that is hosting or sponsoring the event.

But sometimes, the description of an event that you would not otherwise attend catches your attention. Like the symposium that the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law is holding in honor of the life of Professor Hungdah Chiu early next month.

Professor Chiu was not only instrumental in getting UM law’s international law program and its East Asian Legal Studies Program off the ground, but also — among many other things — was a diplomat to the Mainland Affairs Council, which created the framework by which Taiwan and China now conduct diplomatic relations.

It looks like the entire symposium will address interesting and timely topics concerning international law, intellectual property and developments in the rule of law in and between China and Taiwan.

But what struck me the most about the invitation was the spirit in which the symposium seeks to honor Professor Chiu. It is in honor of his life’s work in aiding China and Taiwan in seeking “promotion of mutual understanding through people-to-people exchanges and elimination of hostility through reciprocity, in the hopes that the order and rules for such exchanges can be established between the two sides.”

If only more people devoted their lives to such pursuits.

(Note: The photo is of Twin Oaks, a historic mansion in Washington, D.C. considered a symbol of U.S.-Taiwan relations. Click here for more on Twin Oaks. Photo by Gary Landsman.)