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Congratulation from Dean Philip McConnaughay

Welcome, everyone, to STL’s ninth Commencement Ceremony.

Commencement is always a special occasion, but this year it’s both special and unique – we are celebrating online for the first – and we hope only – time in STL’s history.  Welcome to all of our graduates and your families and friends who are joining us today.  

We are joining online today to recognize the extraordinary achievement of the 94 students who this year 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 rigorous and demanding.   This is an academic and professional achievement only a few may claim. 

We also are recognizing seven LL.M. graduates today, representing Kazakhstan, Kenya, Malaysia, Singapore, and Switzerland. 

In addition to the tremendous achievement of earning your degrees, each of you also has had several additional notable accomplishments during your years at STL.

Three of you secured public interest internships that have opened doors for all of the STL students who will follow – with the International Criminal Court in The Hague, with leading federal and state judges in the United States, and with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Beijing.

31 of you studied abroad, with law schools in Italy, Germany, France, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, Croatia, Japan, Australia, Canada and the United States, establishing relationships that continue to serve STL today and that have extended the reputation of our students and our law school around the world.

Five of you were named Best Oralists in international Moot Court competitions, and several of you were members of First Prize Teams in the Philip Jessup International Law Moot, the Red Cross Moot, the CIETAC Investment Arbitration Moot, the International Criminal Court Moot, and the China WTO Moot.

Your many interesting externships included working with the First Circuit of Supreme People’s Court, the Shenzhen Intermediate People’s Court, the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, the United States District Court for Vermont, the South China International Arbitration Commission, the Hong Kong International Arbitration Commission, and the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute.

And all of you are leaving STL for positions of leadership that will serve you, our law school, your families, and China extremely well — (i) as lawyers with leading law firms and companies, with leading State-Owned Enterprises, with highly selective government offices, and with top public interest organizations around the world; (ii) as law clerks with important courts and tribunals in China and abroad; (iii) and as post-doctoral students at leading universities like Harvard, Yale, Chicago, Beida, and Tsinghua.

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.

You, and your fellow STL graduates before you, are setting new standards of professionalism for the emerging Chinese legal profession.  All other lawyers in China look to you as examples of lawyers (i) whose honesty never falters, (ii) whose adherence to the highest ethical standards never fails, (iii) whose fidelity to the interests of their clients is unmatched, and (iv) who are respected for their civility. 

It is your individual responsibility, to yourselves, to your clients, and to your law school, to live up to these expectations.   These are the attributes that will account for your professional reputation.  The example you set will be one of your greatest contributions to China, and to STL. Congratulations on your graduation and on all of your extraordinary achievements.