Most concepts of Legalism are opposite to the Chinese tradition, so it doesn't have a continuos development in Chinese history. It was too radical a departure from Chinese customs. Legalists emphasized the interest of the King, and their ideas were used by despots, but most of them were simply repeating the thoughts of Legalism. Legalists believed that the profit of the ruler was of most importance. They also thought that the state should always be put before the individuals and that nothing should interfere with the order of the state. The final goal of the Legalists was to minimise the role of the gorvernment by ensuring that laws were strictly adhered to. The only method of controlling people's behavior was through reward and punishment, therefore many countries employed the theory of legalism at that time.
Shang Yang was one of the people who emphasized the importance of law and brought some action. He improved the law of his country and was the most successful person to change the law in Chinese history. Han Fei Tzu, the representative person of Legalism, was a student of the famous Confucian, Hsun Tzu. Hsun Tzu had a different view about human nature to his teacher, Confucius. He thought that human nature was originally evil, but we could rely on teachers to lead us the right way. Han Fei Tzu was not as optimistic as Hsun Tzu. He depended on the judicial system of reward and punishment. He believed that this was the only way to prevent violence; virtue and kindness were insufficient to stop disorder. He believed that farmers and soldiers should be rewarded because they would help make the country strong.
The Ching Dynasty ruling the country was based on the thoughts of Legalism. The laws were extreme and brutal under the Ching. It was proved that Legalism was not suitable for the present day society.