'Tim' Gelatt was a phenomenon. Although cut short by a brain aneurysm on the streets of his beloved New York at age thirty-nine, he accomplished more than most able lawyer-scholars manage to in a full lifetime. From early undergraduate days at the University of Pennsylvania, he devoted himself to China, its language and its efforts to create a modern, respected legal system. His summa performance and the extraordinary recommendations of his college mentors led to his acceptance at the Harvard Law School and its East Asian Legal Studies Program. Again he excelled, only interrupting his law studies in order to be among the first American graduate students to spend a year in the People’s Republic of China. Upon graduation from Harvard in 1981, Tim pursued a career in law practice in New York, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing that pioneered Western business cooperation with the PRC. He negotiated contracts in French as well as Chinese and English and also helped to settle commercial disputes. At the same time, Tim became a leading scholar of China’s developing criminal justice system and Taiwan’s as well, especially issues of human rights, justice and freedoms of expression. His important, albeit part-time, teaching at NYU School of Law featured both international economic law and political and civil liberties. The intensity of his academic and professional dedication, moderated by his warm, humorous personality, made him an unforgettable figure to all scholars, lawyers and students who were privileged to know him. And he even made time for the art, music and travel that were his non-professional passions!
-Professor Jerome A. Cohen, New York University, 2015