It is my great honor to introduce Professor Mathew Finkin as a recipient of the Bob Hepple Award. Matt is my mentor of American labor law, a colleague in comparative labor law studies, and a close friend.
Matt Finkin was born in April 1943, and after graduating from NYU Law School and Yale Law School, he taught at Southern Methodist University School of Law from 1973 to 1988, and since 1988, he has been teaching at the University of Illinois College of Law.
Matt Finkin's outstanding achievements in U.S. labor law would be sufficient to mention a few of his well-known books such as LABOR LAW: CASES AND MATERIALS (2021, 17th edition), LEGAL PROTECTION FOR THE INDIVIDUAL EMPLOYEE (2021, 6th edition), and LABOR LAW ANALYSIS AND ADVOCACY (2013, with Robert Gorman). Especially, PRIVACY IN EMPLOYMENT LAW (first published in 1995, and its 5th ed. published in 2018) is considered the bible on privacy issues in employment relationships. I have learned a great deal about American law from Matt Finkin’s writings.
However, on the occasion of presenting the Bob Hepple Award, I would like to focus on Matt Finkin’s contributions to comparative labor law studies.
Matt Finkin spent three years (from four to seven years old) of his childhood in Japan, starting in 1947, because of his father's military service. Therefore, his first foreign language was Japanese. I don’t know whether his exposure to a language with a completely different system like Japanese from an early age stimulated his linguistic ability, but Matt Finkin has developed a great talent for languages, which has advanced his study of comparative labor law. In particular, based on his deep understanding of German and French law, he has published numerous articles in the German and French languages.
He has given countless presentations at international conferences and seminars, and invited lectures around the world. Matt Finkin’s talks [analyzing American labor law from a comparative perspective] always enabled audiences to understand the unique position of American law, and stimulated fruitful comparative discussions.
He has not only discussed American labor and employment law, but has also written insightful articles on comparative labor law itself. These include: “Introduction: The Past and Future of Labor Law in Comparative Perspective” which appeared in XV INTERNATIONAL ENCYCLOPEDIA OF COMPARATIVE LAW (2014), and “Comparative Labour Law” published in The Oxford Handbook of Comparative Law (2019).
Matt Finkin's contributions to comparative labor law have not been limited to his own writings. Most notably, he has succeeded the editorship of the “Comparative Labor Law Journal” from Clyde Summers and Janice Belace, and renamed the journal as “Comparative Labor Law and Policy Journal”, inviting Sanford Jacoby as a co-editor, and has developed the journal into a central arena for comparative labor law and policy studies. We are well aware of how many of the world's leading scholars have contributed valuable papers to the symposia of this journal.
In addition, as an editor, Matt Finkin published comparative labor law books such as MULTINATIONAL HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT AND THE LAW (Edward Elgar Pub.) (in 2013) (with Joel Cutcher-Gershenfeld et. al.), and COMPARATIVE LABOR LAW (Edward Elgar Pub., in 2015) (co-editor with Guy Mundlak), collaborating with labor law scholars in various countries. These are invaluable assets for comparative labor law studies. Currently, Matt Finkin's works have been translated into seven languages, and are read around the world.
For these international achievements, he has received honorary doctorates from universities in Italy, Germany, and Greece, and a special honorary award from the French government.
Finally, I would like to share a personal story: In 1998, Matt sent me an email because he was interested in an article I had written on employment security in Japan. Then, he and I began an academic, personal, and family relationship over the next 20 years. I will never forget the warmest hospitality that Matt and his wife Eleanor extended to our family when we stayed in Champaign, Illinois in 2001.
His writings are always full of warmth and thoughtfulness towards others, especially weaker parties. When Matt Finkin organizes a symposium of the Journal, he has endeavored to invite labor law scholars in Asia and South America, as well as those in North America and Europe. In this sense also, his efforts in the development and encouragement of comparative labor law studies are worthy of special mention.
Therefore, it’s my utmost pleasure to present the Bob Hepple Award for Lifetime Achievement in Labor Law to Professor Mathew Finkin.
Takashi Araki (University of Tokyo)