Times Higher Education (“THE”) ranked Peking University second among 300 institutions from 24 Asian countries in THE’s Asia University Rankings 2017.
On March 11, STL hosted the “First Chinese-Foreign Commercial Law Forum,” organized and led by Professor Zhu Daming, one of China’s leading scholars of comparative commercial law. The Forum brought together 41 top law professors from prestigious universities around China, including, among others, Tsinghua University, China University of Political Science and Law, Zhejiang University, Sun Yat-sen University, Southwest University of Political Science and Law, and Peking University. The theme of the Forum was, “Normalization of Company Resolution Act.” Forum participants prepared papers on relevant topics and presented on their areas of expertise.
The Forum was the first academic conference held in STL’s new building. Dean Philip McConnaughay extended a warm welcome on behalf of STL and said the law school was honored to host such a distinguished group of scholars, whose work is contributing to the advancement of commercial law theory, practice and reform throughout China.
Under Professor Zhu’s guidance, STL looks forward to making the Forum an annual event. Professor Zhu teaches Chinese commercial legal system, company law, and mergers and acquisitions at STL.
STL established the new “PKU-STL Alumni Association” on March 20 in Shenzhen, in conjunction with the dedication of the new STL Building. The inauguration ceremony was attended by over 100 alumni and STL faculty and friends. The launch of the PKU-STL Alumni Association marked a much-expected milestone for STL, which now boasts five classes of highly successful and trailblazing graduates. The mission of the new Association is to promote the interests of STL by fostering meaningful opportunities for alumni (i) to stay connected to the law school and to network with each other, (ii) to provide support and mentoring of students, and (iii) to provide counsel to the law school’s administration and faculty with respect to trends and developments in the market for legal services.
The ceremony was officiated by STL’s Vice Dean Emeritus Stephen Yandle, who greeted the returning alumni and reminded them that STL would always be happy to welcome them home. Niu Hongwei, Vice-Chancellor of Peking University’s Shenzhen Graduate Campus (PKUSZ), extended his congratulations on behalf of PKUSZ and shared his hope that synergies would be developed between the STL Association and the PKUSZ Alumni Association.
STL’s Director of Development and Career Services, Zhang Chenli, whose efforts were instrumental in establishing the new Association, discussed the principal objectives of the Association and the mechanics of how it will function (e.g., membership, meeting plan, and so forth). He applauded the enthusiasm of STL alumni and said the new Association was a great opportunity for graduates to keep in touch with the work of STL and to participate in the law school’s development.
The inaugural chairperson of the Association, Zhou Bin (class of 2012), and two current 2L students, Qin Shijie and Fan Fumei, rounded out the group of speakers. They all expressed excitement and gratitude for the opportunity to participate in this landmark event for STL.
Following the ceremony, STL’s Student Union hosted a “house-warming” and networking party for students and alumni in the coffee lounge of the new STL Building.
Wang Hui, an alumnus from the class of 2014 who works for JunHe LLP in Shanghai, said that what he learned in STL attaches great importance in his career. At STL, he learned many essential skills that include the capability to analyze problems, the ability to research and construct compelling legal memos and other important documents, and the confidence to communicate in English. “Current students should cherish their school days at STL and make full use of the rich learning resources, ” he said.
Post-graduate placement of STL graduates is nearly 100 percent by the time students graduate. STL graduates hold positions with leading Chinese and multinational law firms, companies, NGOs and government offices worldwide. STL graduates pursuing academic careers have been accepted into advanced degree programs at several of the world’s most selective universities, including Yale, Harvard, Stanford, Oxford, Chicago, Science Po, College of Europe and others.
An Interview with the Design Team from KPF, Architects of STL’s New Building
(Interview by STL Students Hu Yue/胡月 (2L) and Du Yayun/杜雅云 (1L))
The new building of Peking University School of Transnational Law (STL) is prominently located on the Peking University Shenzhen Graduate Campus (PKUSZ). The building is situated between the beautifully restored Dashahe River Parkway, on one side, and the PKUSZ campus central plaza, on the other.
The building is designed by world-famous architecture firm, Kohn Pederson Fox (KPF), whose masterpieces include IBM’s international headquarters, Shanghai World Financial Center, the headquarters of Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, the Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan, and the towering Ping An International Finance Building in Shenzhen.
Fortunately, we earned an exclusive opportunity to interview the principal architects of STL’s new building: Jill Lerner, Elie Gamburg, Alex Kong and Wang Tianmeng. The main contents of our interview follow.
Q1: Why did you choose the task of designing the new building for Peking University School of Transnational Law?
A: I have known Jeffrey Lehman since he was the President of Cornell. I visited Dean Lehman when he became the Dean of STL. Meanwhile, there was a proposal of a new building for this innovative law school. KPF has an office in Hong Kong and had been taking projects in Shenzhen. We have done a lot of designs of academic buildings, including law schools. So, it was a terrific opportunity to partner with STL.
Q2: What were the preparations that you undertook during the process of designing the STL Building?
A: For an academic building, we had a lot discussions with the then Dean, faculty members, and students. We also spent a lot of time visiting other schools at Peking University in Shenzhen, as well as the campus in Beijing. We also researched other major Chinese universities, such as Tsinghua, Tongji and Fudan.
Comparing to our experience in doing educational buildings in Europe and the U.S., we tried to understand how education happens here in China. We tried to identify things that are critical for 21st century education and that may have been overlooked in earlier academic buildings.
Q3: How did you harmonize the design in order to meet the needs of the various users of the new building – e.g., students, professors, administrators, etc.?
A: We wanted some visual connections between the faculty areas and student areas, and the places where everyone would be comfortable working together. We designed an atrium to help bring the entire law school community together. It’s a place where students and faculty can meet formally or informally with one another, and students can comfortably study. We understand that students have different styles of studying. The design of the atrium, in a way, addressed a few of the different ways in which people study: (i) the open seating arrangements along the stairs cater to students who like to study in public spaces; (ii) the terraces with small tables cater to students who like to study in small groups; and (iii) the small nooks under the stairs cater to students who prefer studying in private. We tried to accommodate a variety of study preferences in one central space.
We designed classrooms in various configurations. For example, some classrooms are tiered horse-shoe shaped while others are more traditional flat floor spaces. Such variety addresses the reality that you have different professors with different teaching styles.
Q4: Was there any consideration with regard to sustainability and environmental protection?
A: We spent a long time trying to get the glass right. Because the atrium faces south we had to ensure that the atrium would not get too hot in the summer. This meant carefully choosing the right type of protective glass from the standpoint of heat protection and glare reduction. We used a special Low-E glass to make the space more comfortable and sustainable.
We wanted the atrium to face south so occupants had views of the mountains and river. There are few windows in the east and west of the building because, in Shenzhen, the sunlight is very strong in these directions.
There are many operable windows in the building to allow for fresh air and to reduce reliance on mechanical air conditioning systems. It’s nice when you walk out of a classroom and have fresh air, lots of sunlight and a beautiful view in the atrium. The idea of the atrium also encourages people to walk instead of taking the elevator, which promotes exercise and wellness.
Q5: What was the most challenging aspect of the project from the beginning to the completion of the building?
A: The most challenging part was the construction. We used different construction materials for different functions. We had locally sourced materials, materials from Hong Kong, and materials from overseas. During the construction, our architects regularly visited the construction site from our KPF office in Hong Kong in order to make sure every step went well. I want to thank STL Assistant Dean Chen Keru for her support and help. Without her, the construction process would not have progressed as smoothly.
Q6: What was the most satisfactory thing about the project and do you have any regret about the new building (if any)?
There was a famous architect who said that he had a very hard time going into a building he designed and completed because what he saw was only all possibilities that didn’t happen. Though I had a lot of respect for him, I actually never felt that way about this building. We do have possibilities, but the important thing is that we designed this building for you (the STL community) and it is you who will give life to this building.
Q7: What do you think of STL and Shenzhen?
A: This is a good question and our team members had a lot discussion about this. Shenzhen is an innovative, energetic, young and international city. So is STL. You are studying in a highly globalized, innovative and young law school.
Q8: Do you have any words to say at the end of the interview?
A: It has been exciting for KPF to be a part of this new venture with STL.
Concluding thoughts from the interviewers:
We were surprised by the architects’ understanding of the Socratic teaching style of STL, their sophisticated consideration of the variety of needs of STL students and faculty, and their commitment to environmental protection and sustainability.
We have a strong belief that STL will continue to get better and better and our new STL Building designed by KPF provides the perfect nest for all STLers.
Professor Sang Yop Kang, a leading scholar of corporate law and governance, was invited by Harvard Law School’s Corporate Governance Program to spend January 25 to February 8, 2017 in residence conducting research, attending corporate law seminars, and collaborating with Harvard Law scholars and professors about mutual research interests.
On February 24-25, 2017, Professor Kang was invited by the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law to make a presentation at their Comparative Corporate Governance Conference. Professor Kang was joined at the invitation-only conference by law professors from Harvard, Stanford, Columbia, University of Pennsylvania, and University of California, Berkeley. Professor Kang presented on “King Lear” Problems: Succession and Corporate Governance Issues in Family Corporations, which will be published in an upcoming issue of the Berkeley Business Law Journal.
Professor Kang teaches courses on corporate governance from the global perspective, economic analysis of corporate law, corporate and financial markets, and East Asian economic structures.
Professor Dr. Stephan Jaggi was an invited guest on “The Point with Liu Xin,” an opinion program on CGTN (China Global Television Network) that explores news stories making headlines in China and across the globe. The February 27, 2017 episode featuring Professor Jaggi addressed issues around the constitutionality of the Trump administration’s selective ban of journalists from a White House press briefing. A taped broadcast of the episode is available here.
Professor Jaggi is a comparative law expert focusing on German, U.S., and comparative constitutional law and constitutional theory. He teaches courses on constitutional law, comparative constitutional law, and justice in STL’s innovative dual-degree J.D./J.M. program.
On February 20, 2017, STL students and faculty began the spring semester in the law school’s brand new signature building on the Peking University Shenzhen Graduate School Campus. The move to the new building marks another important milestone in STL’s short history. An official ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place in late March 2017.
The 8,900 square meter law building was designed by Kohn Pederson Fox Associates, one of the world’s premier architectural firms, in cooperation with Shenzhen-based Huasen Architectural & Engineering Consultants Ltd.
Highlights of the building include state-of-the-art classrooms, an on-site law library equipped with the latest in digital research platforms, several intimate seminar rooms, legal clinics, courtroom, law review and student organizations suites, outdoor terraces and reading gardens, highly functional faculty and administrative offices, and abundant student study spaces.
Nicholas Wang, a 1L student, commented on the building’s impressive features. “The new building has loads of public spaces, fully-equipped classrooms and a very nice law library,” he said.
Jonathan Pai, a 1L student from Canada, said he already feels at home in the new building. “It’s great to finally have a communed place of learning, one where STL students can feel at home with, ” he said.
Before moving into the new building, STL had been occupying temporary facilities across the PKUSZ campus. The new building brings the entire law school community together under one roof and marks a new era for the law school.
On January 14-15, 2017, Professor Ray Campbell and STL students Deng Zhicong (3L), Li Yidan (3L) and Zhou Yibin (3L) attended the “LawWithoutWalls” Kickoff at Harvard Law School. STL students Su Rina (3L) and Wang Wei (2L) also participated in the LWOWx online program.
More than 100 students from 30 top law schools and business schools around the world, including Harvard Law School, Stanford Law School and Wharton Business School, participated in the program. STL has been a participant in LWOW since the first session in 2010, and is the only school from eastern Asia ever selected to participate. Lawyers, law professors, in-house counsel, journalists, business people, and capital investors also participated in the program as mentors and team leaders. Student participants were assigned to 16 teams. Different teams were assigned different law-business-technology collaboration topics, such as artificial intelligence, legal education, and law firm management.
The two-day kickoff included a series of events, such as team exploration, improv + corporate communication, idea inspiration, startup pitch to VC, Hackathon, and other programs. In the Hackathon, teams were asked to identify a problem and develop a business plan of an assigned topic and then present it.
Deng Zhicong said of his experience, “LWOW opened a new world for me. It has helped me to keep an open mind and an open heart. I got to know more about leading-edge technology and increase my business sense. Throughout the kick-off, I worked closely with my teammates from Harvard Law School and Columbia Law School. The experience strengthened my skills related to project management, effective communication and teamwork.”
Li Yidan said, “LWOW is at the forefront of global collaboration. I have been working on my LWOW project since January with 12 other team members, team leaders, topic experts and advisors from Miami, Mexico City, Sydney, Melbourne, Paris, Hamburg, and London. Each one of us brings our unique set of skills and experience to the table. Each individual is then armed with a pool of resources. This pool empowers me and demands me to push my limit.”
“The kickoff at Harvard Law School was a fantastic experience. The informative speeches on cutting-edge issues presented by the HLS Dean and faculty, the collaborative team building challenges, and the innovative trainings offered by the LWOW team have benefited my intercultural communication skills and vision enormously,” said Zhou Yibin.
2L student Wang Wei participated in the LWOWx online project. She said of her experience, “LWOW is a new challenge. I learned how to engage more effectively online, how to adapt to huge time differences among multiple time-zones, and how to adjust to different learning styles and manner of expression among teammates from different countries.”
LawWithoutWalls aims to create a global, transdisciplinary think-tank around technology, innovation, and law; to accelerate practicable innovations at the intersection of business, law, and technology; to hone critical twenty-first century professional services skills; and to cultivate collaborative relationships with clients, internal colleagues, and future talent from countries around the globe.
STL’s LWOW participants will continue to develop their business plans and work with their teammates remotely before meeting again in person at the University of Miami School of Law in April 2017.
Professor Norman P. Ho has been appointed a Visiting Fellow at the Asian Law Institute (“ASLI”) of the National University of Singapore Faculty of Law (“NUS Law”). As a Visiting Fellow, Professor Ho will spend approximately two months in residence at NUS Law pursuing his research, attending workshops and meetings, and contributing with seminars for the NUS Law community. Professor Ho is one of a select number of scholars from ASLI member institutions to be awarded the fully funded fellowship.
Professor Ho’s research focuses on legal theory and legal history, with an emphasis on premodern China, comparative jurisprudence, and property theory.
Students in STL’s Small Business Entrepreneurship Clinic successfully secured a patent for their client, Urban Forest (都市之森), a new company based in Shenzhen. The patent was for a newly designed inflatable travel pillow. Three students assisted with the matter: Zhao Jiangyun ’18, He Yimin ’18 and Qi Xin ’18.
The Small Business Entrepreneurship Clinic, directed by Visiting Clinical Lecturer Yuan Peihao, is designed to provide upper-level students with practical experience in legal research, advocacy, client counseling, and transactional practice. The Clinic focuses on advising Shenzhen-based small business entrepreneurial ventures on the wide range of business organization, intellectual property, and other regularly and personal (family law) issues that typically accompany the ramp-up effort of new businesses. The Clinic commenced operations in AY 2015-16.
“The Small Business Entrepreneurship Clinic has provided me with a unique platform, which enables me to put theories into practice. As I work on real-life cases in the Clinic, my sense of the responsibility of being a lawyer has been enhanced and my professional skills have been improved,” said He Yimin.
STL is a leader in teaching lawyering skills. The law school offers novel legal services clinics in which students work directly with clients under the supervision of an experienced lawyer, supervised externship opportunities for students during which students work with law firms and NGOs for academic credit, and J.D./J.M. curriculums rich with courses that focus on skills as well as theory.