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!
Peking University School of Transnational Law (STL), on PKU’s Shenzhen Graduate Campus, is the only law school in the world that combines an American-style Juris Doctor degree (J.D.) with a China law Juris Master degree (J.M.). STL provides an academically rigorous, bilingual program of legal education that prepares students for the mixture of Common Law, civil law, and Chinese legal traditions increasingly characteristic of the global economy.
We invite you to experience STL’s cutting-edge program by joining our 2018 Summer Honors Program (SHP). At SHP, you will be:
- Challenged in dynamic classroom discussions with STL’s leading multinational faculty and an elite group of fellow students with whom you will develop lifelong memories;
- Introduced to an entirely different way of thinking by STL’s unique method of instruction—the Socratic Method;
- Inspired by the exciting and diverse career paths of STL graduates and motivated by the drive and achievements of STL students and faculty;
- Empowered by the confidence you will develop as a result of expanding your cross-cultural awareness and understanding; and
- Welcomed by STL’s warm and open community.
July 28 to August 4, 2018 (includes visit to Hong Kong)
Peking University’s Shenzhen Graduate Campus located in Shenzhen, one of China’s most innovative and attractive cities.
Enrollment is limited to 100 students who will be divided into sections of 50 each.
A detailed schedule will be forthcoming. Past SHP activities have included interactive J.D. and J.M. classes taught in English and Chinese by STL’s distinguished multinational faculty; moot court competitions; discussion sessions with current STL students and STL graduates; and visits to leading Shenzhen-based companies (e.g., Huawei; Vanke Industries) and important government and judicial offices (e.g., Hong Kong High Court; Legislative Council).
- Junior students from key universities in China (mostly universities among the 985 or 211 project); academic performance at a level recognized for distinction is expected;
- Students from HK, Macau, Taiwan and abroad are welcome; non-Chinese citizen applicants must have a valid passport;
- High English proficiency assessed through TOFEL, IELTS, GRE, CET 4/6, TEM 4/8, or similar English-language tests;
- All undergraduate majors welcome.
- Please apply through the STL SHP online application portal before June 17, 2018.
- After applying online, please also send the electronic application materials to the following email: firstname.lastname@example.org. The title of the email should be “SHP Application: Applicant name + College name + College major.”
- Resume or Curriculum Vitae;
- Personal Statement;
- Academic Records: Official transcripts from all undergraduate and graduate institutions, and official degree certificates (original or notarized documents with English translations if documents are not in English).
- A copy of evidence of English Proficiency, or holds satisfactory TOEFL or IELTS score;
- Non-Chinese citizen applicants should submit a copy of evidence of Chinese Proficiency or a sample of written work in Chinese;
- A copy of passport or identification card.
Tuition and Scholarships
Tuition is 3000 RMB, which includes accommodation, insurance and Hong Kong visit expenses.
SHP students who enroll in STL’s full-time J.D./J.M. program in AY2019-20 will be awarded an “SHP Scholarship” of 3000 RMB during their first year.
Register for an online application at http://ss.pkusz.edu.cn/stlsmh before June 17, 2018.
Send all application materials via email to email@example.com before the deadline.
At the conclusion of SHP, students will be presented with a personalized “Certificate of Completion” from STL recognizing their successful participation in SHP. SHP students wishing to apply to STL’s J.D./J.M. program for admission in 2019 will be asked to submit a personal essay following the conclusion of SHP. The essay will be afforded substantial weight in STL’s admissions process.
For further information, please visit STL’s web site: http://stl.pku.edu.cn, or contact the Summer Honors Program Office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
STL’s Founding Dean Jeffrey Lehman was recognized as one of the 40 most influential foreign experts since China’s reform and opening up 40 years ago. The award was announced by the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs (SAFEA) at SAFEA’s 16th China International Talent Exchange Conference in Shenzhen on April 14, 2018.
“Jeffrey Lehman is especially deserving of this recognition. He has personally established two of the most forward-looking intuitions of higher education in China, both of which promise a lasting and significant impact on China’s relationships with the global community,” said STL Dean Philip McConnaughay.
Lehman currently is the Founding Vice Chancellor of New York University’s Shanghai campus. He was the Founding Dean of STL, serving from 2007-2012. Previously, he was President of Cornell University and Dean of the University of Michigan Law School.
Lehman’s additional achievements and awards include China’s esteemed Friendship Award, the highest honor for “foreign experts who have made outstanding contributions to the country’s economic and social progress,” and the Shanghai Magnolia Gold Award, presented annually in recognition of major contributions by members of Shanghai’s expatriate community. Lehman also is the recipient of an honorary doctorate from Peking University.
More information about SAFEA’s Influential Foreign Expert Awards is available here.
Peking University School of Transnational Law’s “STL Building” was honored at the 2018 Better Educational Environment Dynamic (BEED) Asia Spring Summit in Shanghai, April 12-14. The STL Building, designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates (KPF), one of the world’s premier architectural firms, was one of ten projects honored with a BEED Educational Facility Design Award. BEED Asia is devoted to supporting innovation in educational design with a platform that connects educational institutions with cutting-edge architects and designers, project vendors, and advanced technology providers.
Completed in January 2017, the 8,900 square-meter STL Building serves as the gateway for the Peking University Shenzhen Graduate Campus. The centerpiece of the building is a grand tiered atrium with spectacular outward views of the beautifully restored Dashahe River Parkway. Other signature features include a 100-person classroom that can be converted into a high-tech moot courtroom; an on-site law library equipped with the latest in digital research platforms; legal clinic and student organizations suites; outdoor terraces and reading gardens, including a stunning rooftop terrace; and abundant student study space with comfortable seating.
May 4, 2018 marks the 120th anniversary of Peking University!
For more information on University-wide events, please visit: http://120.pku.edu.cn/en/index.htm
For more information on PKU Shenzhen Graduate School events, please visit: http://news.pkusz.edu.cn/list-1829-1.html
For the fifth consecutive year, Peking University (PKU) tops the elite Times Higher Education (THE) Emerging Economies University Rankings. Over 350 universities from over 42 countries were ranked across five principal performance areas: “Teaching (the learning environment), Research (volume, income and reputation), Citations (research influence), International outlook (staff, students and research), and Industry Income (knowledge transfer).”
PKU is China’s first and most renowned comprehensive research university, having just celebrated its 120th anniversary on May 4, 2018. Teaching students who are among the best in China, PKU boasts an outstanding faculty, including 53 members of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), 7 members of the Chinese Academy of Engineering (CAE), and 14 members of the Third World Academy of Sciences (TWAS).
For more information on the 2018 THE Emerging Economies University Rankings, please visit https://www.timeshighereducation.com/world-university-rankings/emerging-economies-university-rankings-2018-methodology.
On April 27, 2018, STL Distinguished Professor from Practice Professor Thomas Yunlong Man was a panelist in an international symposium at Beijing Normal University on “Establishing Cooperation Mechanisms Regarding Persons Sought for Corruption and Asset Recovery.” The Symposium was sponsored by the Beijing-based Research Center on International Cooperation Regarding Persons Sought for Corruption and Asset Recovery in G20 Member States, the mission of which is to provide a platform for G20 members to cooperate on cross-border anti-corruption efforts. Professor Man presented his paper, Effective Compliance Programs to Prevent Corporate Liability under FCPA and UK Bribery Act.
Professor Mark Feldman has been appointed by the Geneva Center for International Dispute Settlement (CIDS) to its new Academic Forum on Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS). The purpose of the Academic Forum is to bring together the world’s leading scholars of investor-state dispute resolution to consider the possible reform of ISDS, which currently is under review by a working group of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL).
The inaugural meeting of the Academic Forum was held on April 26, 2018 in New York. The meeting was co-organized by Columbia University and CIDS, and was hosted by the New York International Arbitration Commission.
Professor Feldman previously served as an invited member of the E15 Initiative Task Force on Investment Policy (World Economic Forum/ICTSD). Prior to joining STL, he served as Chief of NAFTA-CAFTA Arbitration in the Office of Legal Counsel of the United States Department of State, where he represented the interests of the United States in investor-state arbitrations.
Visiting Professor Preston Torbert’s innovative course, “Drafting Bilingual Contracts: The Problem of Ambiguity,” was featured prominently in the April 21, 2018 issue of China Legal Daily. An English translation of the article follows.
To Study and in Due Course Practice What One Has Studied, Is This Not a Pleasure?
“Can a Chinese law student improve a contract in English drafted by the most accomplished American lawyers?”
The answer to this question begins with a story from many years ago.
A week after I graduated from Harvard Law School in June, 1974, my mother handed me a new draft lease for a building that my family owned, asking me whether I had any comments on it. I read it carefully and then suggested only one change—a rent escalation clause based on the consumer price index. But after three years of legal education I was unable to make any legal comments on the contract! I was embarrassed and surprised. I had had great teachers of contracts, but they emphasized theory, not practice. I resolved to help law students do better.
To implement this resolution I started teaching at the Peking University School of Transnational Law in 2012. My course, “Drafting Bilingual Contracts: The Problem of Ambiguity,” is based on my experience–several decades of drafting and negotiating Chinese-English bilingual joint venture contracts for American clients. In the 1980s, I formed a China practice group in the Chicago office of Baker & McKenzie that included about ten legal specialists. Working together with my Chinese colleagues over many years, I learned a great deal about the ambiguous nature of the English language and wrote four books on the subject. Therefore, the main theme of the course I have created in Shenzhen is ambiguity, because ambiguity is the major cause of contract litigation and ambiguity, especially in bilingual contracts in international trade and investment. Although ambiguity is ubiquitous, it often is unnoticed. And it causes problems when, during the term of the contract, an unanticipated event occurs and each party carefully examines the language of the contract to determine its rights. Often the language is ambiguous, the parties adopt different self-serving interpretations, and a dispute is born. In the course in Shenzhen, I teach my students how to identify contract ambiguities, how to analyze them, and how to reduce the risk of ambiguity in order to protect a client’s interest. My students acquire three practical legal skills: (1) an understanding of the meticulous attention to detail required in reviewing a contract, (2) a mental checklist of ambiguity issues, and (3) a toolkit for reducing ambiguity.
The exam for the course asks the students to use their understanding, mental checklist, and toolkit to review and comment on an actual contract in English. I have selected “material” (i.e., important) contracts of major companies listed in the United States. The American Securities and Exchange Commission has a database of these contracts and they are available to the public, but only after the parties have deleted any confidential information. In prior years, I have used contracts to which Huawei, Alibaba, Tencent, Google, Microsoft, Motorola, Yahoo, and Goldman Sachs were parties.
The exam instructs each student: “Assume you are an in-house lawyer working at [name of company]. The General Counsel gives you the attached Agreement to review to see whether it should be revised before it is used as the draft for another similar contract in the future.” The exam gives the students three hours to review the contract for ambiguities, comment on them, and suggest changes to protect the company’s interest.
After grading the exams and consulting with the Dean, Phil McConnaughay, I spend two weeks selecting the best student comments and summarizing them in a 20-30 page Summary. Zhang Chenli 张趁利, the Director of Development and Career Services, and I then send the Summary to the General Counsel of the company.
I make clear in the Summary that it “does not constitute a formal legal opinion from me or from Baker McKenzie, the law firm where I spent several decades. It is merely the comments of law students who are not yet members of the bar. Since the students lack an understanding of the company’s business, they look at the contract only from the perspective of the course–searching for and revising ambiguities. Nevertheless, their gratuitous comments can add value for the company.” Since these legal opinions are aimed at actual contracts (such as, contracts of Goldman Sachs and Huawei), in the past three years, Director Zhang Chenli and I have received many favorable responses such as the following from the Legal Departments of the companies:
“We wanted to contact you to let you know how much we appreciate the insights you shared with us from you and your students. [The General Counsel] passed your [Summary] on to our group because we worked on the transaction that ultimately gave rise to the [exam contract]. It is always illuminating to have fresh sets of eyes reviewing our work, and it is clear that you and your students put a lot of thought and effort into reading and thinking about the [exam contract] you used in your class. Thank you for sharing the resulting insights with us. We will definitely keep them in mind.”
“Professor Torbert, thank you for sending us the [Summary], there are valuable comments for our contract drafting and reviewing. I will circulate it internally and let you know if we have questions.”
“I … read the Summary, and found it so impressive! As an in-house counsel mainly working on M&A deals, I deal with M&A contracts and commercial contracts every day… I’ve learned a lot from your Summary, which I believe will absolutely inspire me in my future daily work.”
All substantial contracts—even the best—contain ambiguities because ambiguities, like flaws in computer software programs, are an unavoidable characteristic of the product. To the extent that the drafter can find and eliminate ambiguities or the programmer can find and eliminate flaws, the contract or the software program is better. But a busy in-house legal department usually does not have the resources either to conduct a meticulous contract review itself or to pay outside counsel to do so. In short, my students’ comments can be viewed as similar to a benevolent hacker’s reporting of some minor software flaws to a programmer or perhaps a White Hat community’s “crowd-sourced” reporting.
Ambiguity is the greatest source of contract disputes, but ambiguities are inevitable, so the fewer the ambiguities, the better the contract. The above responses from the Legal Departments show that Chinese law students, with proper training, can acquire unique practical skills developed through many years of practice by me and my colleagues in the China Practice Group in the Baker McKenzie Chicago office.
Therefore, the answer to the question posed at the beginning of this article is “Yes.” The Chinese law students through study and application of these skills can improve the work of the most sophisticated law firms and in-house legal departments. “To study and in due course practice what one has studied, is this not a pleasure?” If I indulge myself, I can say that this is a great achievement of Chinese-American cooperation in legal education.
 The translation is of an article that appeared in Chinese in the Fazhiribao (The Legal Daily) newspaper on April 21, 2018.
 This quote from The Analects of Confucius refers to the unity of theory and practice.
About the author: Mr. Preston M. Torbert is a well-known American “China law” specialist who for many years served as a partner in Baker McKenzie, one of the world’s largest law firms. He has two doctorates, one in law from Harvard, the other in Chinese history from the University of Chicago and for many years devoted himself to Sino-U.S. trade and investment, especially the research and practice of bilingual legal documents.
Back in 1975, Mr. Torbert visited China for the first time. In the 1980s, he established a Chinese law group in the Chicago office of Baker McKenzie. Of the ten members of the group, all were Chinese except for him; he was the only “foreigner.” In 1981, he helped Baker McKenzie establish a Beijing office. Mr. Torbert teaches as an adjunct professor at the University of Chicago Law School and starting in 2012 was invited to teach at the Peking University School of Transnational Law in Shenzhen. His course “Drafting Bilingual Contracts: The Problem of Ambiguity” is the most popular elective course at the School of Transnational Law.
Mr. Torbert has a good command of nine languages (including Chinese) and has published in China four legal books in Chinese, including “Legal English: The Interpretation of Chinese-English Bilingual legal Documents.” When he is in Shenzhen, he is a loyal subscriber and reader of the Legal Daily.
The inaugural King’s Transnational Law Summit (KTLS) was held in London this April. The first global summit dedicated to the topic of transnational law, KTLS was hosted by the Transnational Law Institute of King’s College London. The theme of the Summit was “Creating Justice for Our Future.”
The Summit was held as a space of inquiry into how lawyers, legal scholars and legal education can better engage with the major transnational challenges of our time. Speakers included Shirin Ebadi, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and Iran’s first female judge, Justice Susanne Baer of the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany and physicist and author Fritjof Capra. Over four days, multiple sessions were held in the thematic clusters of environmental & economic justice, health, technology, inequality & migration, and knowledge & action, in addition to music, film and poetry sessions and an art exhibition.
STL Assistant Professor Stephen Minas participated in the Summit by chairing a panel discussion on the topic of “Technology & Climate Change.” Professor Minas also is a senior research fellow at the Transnational Law Institute and participated in the development of the Summit concept/structure and in the organising team for the environmental stream of the Summit.
The “Technology & Climate Change” session featured a discussion on how technologies, including clean energy, can contribute to a sustainable future, and what law and regulation can do to maximize the positive contributions of technology. Speakers included Robert Berloznik, a member of the Technology Executive Committee of the UN Climate Convention and Director of the Programme of the Global Science Technology Innovation Conferences (G-STIC), Jean-Michel Glachant, who is Robert Schuman Chair, Director of the Florence School of Regulation and Director of Loyola de Palacio Energy Policy Programme at the European University Institute, Peter Vajda, Senior Environmental Expert at the Energy Community Secretariat, and Wendy J. Miles QC, a partner in Debevoise & Plimpton LLP’s London office and a member of the International Dispute Resolution Group.
Speaking after the Summit, Professor Minas said: “Globally, there are few institutions dedicated to the study of transnational law and to transnational legal education, making points of contact such as KTLS very valuable. It was a privilege to represent STL at this cutting-edge event in transnational legal studies and action. All credit must go to Professor Peer Zumbansen, Dr. Liliane Mouan and the whole organising team for an inspiring and thought-provoking Summit.”