Peking University School of Transnational Law (STL) celebrated a remarkable milestone on October 22, 2023, as it marked its 15th anniversary. The event drew a distinguished gathering of luminaries, including Liu Xiaochun, President of Shenzhen Court of International Arbitration; Cao Hailei, Deputy Director of Justice Bureau of Shenzhen; Zhang Jin, Vice President of Peking University and Chancellor of the Shenzhen Graduate School of Peking University, who is also an Academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences; Hai Wen, Founding Dean of PHBS and Vice Chairman of the Peking University Council; Jeffrey Lehman, Founding Dean of STL and presently Vice Chancellor of New York University Shanghai; Liu Zhewei, Associate Dean of Peking University Law School; Stephen Yandle, Vice Dean Emeritus of STL; Mark Feldman, Interim Dean of STL; Philip McConnaughay, who served as STL Dean from 2013 to 2023, participated via video presentation.
The celebration brought together students, alumni, and friends of STL from all over the world and across China at the STL building. The event served as an opportune moment for reflection on STL's journey and an exploration of its promising future.
The celebration commenced with a warm welcome from Interim Dean Mark Feldman. Dean Feldman shared insightful reflections on STL's development over the past 15 years, underscoring the institution's steadfast commitment to educating internationally-oriented legal professionals in China. He highlighted the significance of STL, often hailed as "the world's first transnational law school," and credited its enduring value and potential to the unwavering dedication, optimism, and creativity of its founders, faculty, students, and alumni.
Academician Zhang Jin, who has been serving as the Chancellor of Peking University Shenzhen Graduate School since 2021, stressed the imperative of North-South cooperation between PKU Law School on the University’s Beijing Campus and PKU STL on the University’s Shenzhen Campus, as well as the pivotal role STL plays in connecting China to the international legal community.
Associate Dean Liu Zhewei from Peking University Law School emphasized the need for close cooperation between Peking University’s two law schools. He proposed leveraging their combined resources to unlock fresh opportunities in talent cultivation, student exchanges, and community service, thereby contributing to the advancement of the rule of law in Shenzhen and the Greater Bay Area.
Professor Hai Wen recounted the compelling genesis of STL and its role in addressing the surging demand for high-caliber international legal professionals during a period of rapid growth in China. He expressed his delight at the burgeoning cooperation between the two Peking University law schools and urged STL to remain committed to its mission of educating legal professionals in alignment with international standards.
Professor Jeffrey Lehman, in reflecting on a changing global landscape, underscored the necessity of nurturing bridge-building talents. He challenged STL to envision its contributions to the world over the next 15 years and contemplate innovative features that can be introduced to the legal education landscape.
Professor Philip McConnaughay (STL Dean 2013-2023) reflected on his decade-long tenure, expressing gratitude to all those who have contributed to STL's growth and sharing his expectations for the school's future, particularly in areas like funding, faculty evaluation, administration, student training, and research.
Vice Dean Emeritus Stephen Yandle used a metaphorical reference, likening STL to Janus from Roman mythology. He emphasized STL's focus on transnational law and the closely associated U.S. legal system in a Chinese context, highlighting the significance of educating China's finest students in transnational law for the prosperity and peace of China and the international community.
President Liu Xiaochun of the Shenzhen Court of International Arbitration (SCIA) shared his experiences and collaborations with STL. He praised STL's faculty as an indispensable think tank for the arbitration court, underscoring the exceptional performance of STL students as a bridge between the two institutions.
Xu Li, an alumna from the inaugural class of 2012, shared her personal journey of joining STL out of curiosity and her desire to explore transnational law. She spotlighted the indomitable spirit of STL, which empowered her to transition from a tax attorney in a boutique Silicon Valley firm to a general manager in an artificial intelligence startup, and ultimately to her aspiration of establishing the first Vault 100 law firm founded by a Chinese lawyer.
The event culminated in the official launch of the "Shouzheng Scholarship," which stands asthe first scholarship program funded by donations from STL’s individualalumnus. Interim Dean Mark Feldman presented the "Outstanding Contribution to Education Award" from Peking University Shenzhen Graduate School to the 2016 alumnus and donor, Zhou Qing.
In his closing remarks, Associate Dean Mao Shaowei expressed heartfelt gratitude to all the attendees, emphasizing that STL's rigorous, open, and innovative spirit continues to thrive in every member of the STL community. He underscored that the future of STL is molded by the future of its community members. The event reinforced STL’s role as a bridge between continental and common law, theory and practice, and the East and the West. STL is not only a law school but also a significant contribution to cultivating international legal professionals with a global perspective.
As a pioneer in professional legal education, particularly in the training of transnational legal talents, STL has achieved significant milestones in the past 15 years. STL not only successfully introduced the American Juris Doctor (J.D.) program but also developed innovative Chinese law programs, culminating in unique dual-degree programs in China law and common law. Over the next five years, STL is poised to adapt to the demands of the new era, explore innovative content and methods of professional legal education, nurture high-caliber transnational legal talents, produce high-quality research outcomes, and deepen its engagement in Shenzhen, the Greater Bay Area, and national strategies such as the Belt and Road Initiative. STL remains resolutely committed to making substantial contributions to the modernization of China's legal system, promoting legal development, and serving the ever-evolving needs of the world.
Author: SUN Fanshu