On May 19, 2018, the STL community celebrated the seventh Commencement Ceremony of Peking University’s School of Transnational Law (STL). The ceremony recognized the extraordinary achievement of STL’s 96 J.D./J.M. graduates and 2 LL.M. graduates.
STL Dean Philip McConnaughay began the ceremony with a brief address to the graduates. “You have successfully completed the world’s only American Law Juris Doctor, China Law Juris Master dual degree program, much of it in English and all of it extremely demanding,” he said.
“All of you are now members of an elite group of lawyers prepared to understand and practice the law of China, the law of the United States, the law of the United Kingdom, the law of the European Union, and whatever laws, rules and practices eventually emerge from the meeting and modification of all of these. You are true transnational lawyers, and we hope, the kind of ethical lawyers and professionals who will continue to make STL proud,” remarked Dean McConnaughay.
This year’s commencement was held in the International Conference Center on Peking University’s Shenzhen Graduate Campus. During the ceremony, graduates and their families heard from STL’s Founding Dean and current Executive Vice Chancellor of NYU’s Shanghai campus, Jeffrey Lehman; The Honorable Pei Xianding, Chief Judge of The First Circuit Court of The Supreme People’s Court; STL Professor Zhu Daming; and graduating student Yuan Ziyan.
Dean Lehman’s speech included a thoughtful reflection on the importance of persuasion to effective transnational lawyering. Dean Lehman said,
The reason why I believe it is so important to focus on “persuasion” rather than “argument” is that “persuasion” incorporates a crucial, essentially human quality, the quality of empathy for other people. …
Persuasion means offering your listener, in terms that they can appreciate, a logical path that will carry them from where they are to where you want them to be. The best transnational lawyers are able to feel empathy for people who are very, very different from them. People who speak other languages. People who grew up in different cultures. They are able to bridge enormous gaps, combining the virtues of two very different cultures and creating very powerful transnational partnerships. By nurturing within you the transnational lawyer’s ability to persuade effectively, STL has prepared all of you to lead lives of accomplishment and contribution.
STL Associate Professor Zhu Daming addressed the graduates on behalf of the faculty. His remarks inspired graduates to use their legal training to create a better world for themselves and for society. “The purpose for which we chose law, why we kept expanding our knowledge base is not solely that we could become legal professionals or that we could gain great wealth. As legal practitioners from Peking University School of Transnational Law, I hope you become professionals who always harbor the dream of the rule by law, who always have the courage to shoulder responsibilities, who remain down-to-earth and keen to contribute, and who possess both legal wisdom and ethics,” urged Professor Zhu.
In his keynote address, Chief Judge Pei offered four principle aspirations for STL graduates: first, aspiring to be a noble and ethical person; second, aspiring to be a legal practitioner who holds firm beliefs and strong convictions; third, aspiring to be worthy of the great promise and opportunities afforded by China’s continued development; and fourth, aspiring to be a human being who contributes to the whole of society.
Judge Pei also lauded STL graduates and the special education they have received. “STL is an international law school providing a unique global legal education during a period of reform and opening-up, with the geographical advantages of the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone, and a combination of senior professors and outstanding students. … During this promising period with great opportunities, STL graduates, with their strong legal foundations, are thus able to be talents who contribute to society through their dedication to China’s and the world’s peaceful development and progress, ” he said.
Like the classes before them, the Class of 2018 is pursuing positions in leading multinational and top-tier Chinese law firms (e.g., Fangda, Linklaters, Kirkland & Ellis, Zhong Lun, Hui Zhong, Freshfields, Han Kun, Jun He), the legal departments of leading multinational and Chinese corporations and financial institutions (e.g., Ping An, DJI Drones, Huawei, Shenzhen Stock Exchange, SoftBank in Tokyo), government and judicial agencies (e.g., Hebei Provincial Government, High Court of Tianjin, Shenzhen Government), and SOEs (e.g., China Securities, China Agriculture Bank). A few graduates have even started their own businesses.
Yuan Ziyan, who provided the address on behalf of the graduates, talked about how her STL education has provided her with more than just legal knowledge. “For me, being at STL enabled me to realize that the most important thing in my life is possibility. Studying both U.S. law and Chinese law in STL introduced me to new perspectives and afforded me precious opportunities to meet and talk with great minds from diverse backgrounds. … I learned how important critical thinking is when looking at the world. I began to discover more possibilities of life, and all of these are valuable gifts STL has give me,” said Yuan Ziyan.
Congratulations, STL Class of 2018!