Hong Kong Law Fellow  (Georgetown) | PhD (SOAS) | MSc (LSE) | Chevening Scholar



Research Fellow and Analyst in Law, Politics and Human Rights in Hong Kong and China

Eric Yan-ho Lai is the Hong Kong Law Fellow at the Georgetown Center for Asian Law. Born and raised in Hong Kong, Lai has been involved in civil society development and human rights advocacy since 2010. He received his Master’s degree from the London School of Economics and Political Science as a Chevening Scholar in 2013 and holds a Ph.D degree at SOAS University of London in 2022. His main research focuses on legal transplant, legal professionalism, and legal mobilization in authoritarian regimes. He also studies judicial politics, national security, social movement, contentious politics, and electoral integrity in Hong Kong and China. Before joining Georgetown Law, Lai was a lecturer in Political Science at several universities in Hong Kong. He was also a visiting fellow at the Centre for Comparative and Public Law at the University of Hong Kong. He writes on law and politics, electoral integrity, judicial activism, international human rights, and religious freedom in academic journals, newspapers, and popular literature. Lai is a member of the Asian Civil Society Research Network.


Articles, Books and Policy Reports

My doctoral research focuses on the dynamics of legal transplant and legal professionalism in authoritarian regimes. I also study law and politics, social movement, contentious politics and electoral integrity in Hong Kong and China.

The Rule of Law

Unravelling Authoritarian Rule of Law in Hong Kong: From Post-Umbrella Resistance to the Anti-Extradition Bill Protests

Contentious Politics

Solidarity and Implications of a Leaderless Movement in Hong Kong: Its Strengths and Limitations

Collective Action

A ‘Leader-full’ Movement Under Authoritarianism: Mobilization Networks in Hong Kong’s Anti-Extradition Movement

Lai, Yan-ho (2022), "A ‘Leader-full’ Movement Under Authoritarianism: Mobilization Networks in Hong Kong’s Anti-Extradition Movement” in Anthony J. Spires and Akihiro Ogawa (eds), Authoritarianism and Civil Society in Asia, Routlegde, chapter 1.


New Publications

(2022) "Arrest Data Show National Security Law Has Dealt a Hard Blow to Free Expression in Hong Kong" ChinaFile, 5 April 2022 (with Thomas E. Kellogg)


(2022) Hong Kong: British judges leaving top court is a strong condemnation of the end of civil liberties (2022) The Conversation, 4 April.


(2022) "Foreign Judges Are Enabling Hong Kong’s Legal Crackdown" The Diplomat, 11 February. 

(2022). “From Rule of Law to Rule by Fear: An Annual Review of the National Security Law in Hong Kong” in Joseph Yu-shek Cheng, Torbjörn Lodén and Larissa Stünkel (eds), Politics in East Asia Today: Between Democracy, Debates, and Discourse (Speical Paper). Stockholm: Institute for Security and Development Policy, pp. 17-27.

(2022) "Hong Kong: How Colonial-era Laws Are Being Used to Shut Down Independent Journalism" The Conversation, 10 January. (with Yuen Chan)

(2021) “NSL Verdict a Major Blow to Free Speech in Hong KongLawfare, 19 November. (with Thomas E. Kellogg)

(2021) The Tong Ying-kit NSL Verdict: An International and Comparative Law Analysis (A GCAL Briefing Paper), Center for Asian Law, Georgetown University Law Center, D.C. Washington, 19 October ( with Thomas E. Kellogg). 

(2021) "Hong Kong's Sedition Law is Back" The Diplomat, 3 September. 

(2021) “Hong Kong Democracy Protester’s Sentencing Sets a Harsh Precedent for National Security LawThe Conversation, 30 July.

(2021) "Hong Kong’s National Security Law and the Right to a Fair Trial: Mission Impossible?" Lawfare, 15 July (with Thomas E. Kellogg).

(2021) Hong Kong's National Security Law and the Right to Fair Trial: A GCAL Briefing Paper, Center for Asian Law, Georgetown University Law Center, D.C. Washington, 28 June. (with Lydia Wong and Thomas E. Kellogg)

Selected Conference Papers

2021. “Authoritarian Legal Transplant and Judicial Independence in Sub-national Governance: The Case of Hong Kong” International Society of Public Law Conference 2021.

2021. “Solidarity and Resilience of Hong Kong's Anti-authoritarian Movement: Lessons and Prospects” The May 18 Uprising Seoul Memorial Society 41st Anniversary Conference: After 5.18: Social Movements and Political Thoughts. Seoul: Yonsei University. 

2020. “Professional Resistance and Lawyers’ Activism: Cause Lawyering in Hong Kong’s Anti-extradition Protest 2019” Law and Society Association Annual Conference 2020. Colorado: University of Denver.

2019. “State-society Contention under Authoritarianism: The Case of Anti-extradition Protest in Hong Kong” Civil Society in Asia: International Conference in Melbourne 3. Melbourne: University of Melbourne.

2018. “Depoliticising Contentious Politics by Law: A critical evaluation of legal politics in Post-colonial Hong Kong” International Society of Public Law Conference 2018. Hong Kong: The University of Hong Kong.


Email address: yl1445@georgetown.edu