January 18, 2008

C.U. Law School Announces Exchange With Peking Univ.

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Starting in the fall of 2008, the Cornell Law School will begin an exchange program with Peking University Law School in Beijing, China, known informally as Beida.
The program will be the Law School’s first with a University on mainland China, a country that Leslie Burke, executive director of the Clarke Program in East Asian Law and Culture, called “a huge player on the global scene.”
The exchange program will involve both students and professors. Chinese professors will teach Chinese corporate law in Ithaca next semester.
Cornell law students will benefit, according to Larry Bush, executive director of the Clarke Center for International and Comparative Legal Studies, because Beida has “the best law faculty in China.”
Prof. Annelise Riles, law, director of the Clarke Program in East Asian Law and Culture, will be the first Cornell law professor to participate in the program during the 2009-2010 school year. Riles said, “I’m obviously really excited to work with the future leaders of the Chinese Legal procession.”
In addition, law students from both schools will participate in the exchange program. Cornell students uncomfortable with Chinese can take English classes within Beida’s new English language program.
Riles said she is enthusiastic about the firsthand experience students will gain by studying in China.
“It’s a wonderful thing for the [Cornell] students and faculty to engage in a cutting edge school up close … They will learn more about what’s happening with the nitty-gritty in China because there’s only so much you can learn by reading.”
The program came about after years of ties between the two universities. According to Burke, “Our faculties have been working together for years on research studies.”
There is also an annual conference between the two schools each summer held at one of the campuses; last year’s conference was held on property law at Beida. Burke said the Beida faculty is known for “developing wonderfully innovative ideas,” which she hopes will benefit the Cornell students studying under them.
Bush said that studying abroad while in law school is becoming increasingly popular. Thirty-six percent of the class of 2008 will have participated in some sort of abroad program, with almost 20 percent spending a semester in a foreign country.
Bush added, “Increasingly, the students we train are going to work in law firms where they work with law professionals from around the world. [And even if not,] a well-trained lawyer today is someone who understands the practice and theory of law from a non-U.S. perspective.”
By studying abroad, Burke said, “Students are immersed in a foreign culture and are able to learn the specifics of it.”
She also noted that China is influenced by both the common law code used in countries such as in America and the civil law code such as those used in most of Europe. Burke said it will be “interesting” to follow China as it continues to develop its law code.
Riles said, “It’s exhilarating to work with people reexamining society and building new institutions … [China] is a fascinating laboratory for possibility.”
Riles added she hopes “relationships will develop that will last a lifetime” between the students and faculty participating in the exchange.