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Message from the Dean

Philip J. McConnaughay

When I joined STL in 2013, it was because I considered STL “the most exciting development in legal education in the world today.”  The same is true nearly a decade later.

STL is the only law school in China authorized to offer an American law Juris Doctor degree, and the only law school in the world to offer both an American law J.D. and a China law Juris Master’s (J.M.) degree.

An American law Juris Doctor degree is the most respected professional doctorate in the world.  When people and companies worldwide confront legal challenges or disputes of extraordinary complexity and in which the stakes are often incredibly high, they turn to leading lawyers with an American J.D. because of their superior analytical, advocacy and problem-solving capabilities. These are precisely the skills you will develop as a result of STL’s method of instruction:  rigorous analysis of actual cases and controversies combined with intensively interactive class sessions in which students are questioned repeatedly about all aspects of the cases they read.

An American law J.D. also is a pathway to other important careers.  An American law J.D. has catapulted many into CEO positions at Fortune 500 companies, and others into leadership positions in government, civil society, and public interest organizations.  The same is true of prestigious academic careers. Recognized since its inception in the United States as the professional equivalent of a research Ph.D., a J.D. is the terminal degree held by many of the world’s leading legal scholars and by sitting and former presidents of Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Columbia, the University of Chicago, the University of California, Berkeley, NYU, Cornell and too many other elite research universities to name.

Thanks to an innovative approach to Juris Master’s education that has been designed and implemented by STL’s J.M. professors, STL’s China Law J.M. degree also is well on its way to achieving the professional stature it deserves. Unlike the Juris Master’s programs of other leading China law schools, STL’s J.M. program integrates traditional civil law methods of statutory interpretation with smaller, interactive classes and case studies characteristic of leading U.S. law schools.  The outcome is a unique perspective on China legal analysis increasingly valued by sophisticated Chinese clients, companies and law firms.

STL also is unique for another reason:  we are located where all of the world’s great legal and commercial traditions meet – China Law, both modern and traditional; Western Law, both Common and Civil; Religious and Customary Law, both Islamic and indigenous. These different traditions are interacting in a world of multinational exchange to create new and different transnational practices and policies that consider and accommodate the often fundamentally different expectations of each.  And this is occurring nowhere more than in Shenzhen.

Shenzhen is the hub of China’s Greater Bay Area, the gateway of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, and one of the most multinational business communities in the world. Shenzhen also is known worldwide as “China’s most innovative city,” a world-leading center of information technology, biotechnology and international finance.

All of these unique characteristics are why when I am asked where STL is located, I often reply, “in the future.”

If you feel capable and ready to experience STL’s unique and demanding program, I and my faculty and administrative colleagues look forward to welcoming you!



Philip J. McConnaughay
Dean, Peking University School of Transnational Law