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"Michigan Law separates itself from other top schools because of its long-standing commitment to the study of Chinese law, specifically through the Chinese Legal Studies Program. It was this strong focus on Chinese legal studies, and international studies more broadly, that made my decision to attend Michigan an easy one. As a first-semester 1L, I have been fortunate to have opportunities to network with professors and scholars in the field, as well as to attend a variety of specialized seminars and workshops."

–Allison Waks, 2L

China and Michigan Law

Michigan Law has perhaps the richest history of any American law school with respect to interactions with China: In the early 1900s China's top legal academics, judges, lawyers and constitutionalists traveled to Ann Arbor to deepen their understanding of the Anglo-American legal tradition, and take back to post-1911 Revolution China new institutions of governance and development. Indeed, in the century between 1859 and 1959, more of Michigan Law's foreign students came from China than any other country in the world.  One of the best known was John C.H. Wu (Wu Jingxiong)—principal drafter of China's first written constitution (1946) and the Chinese side of a famed correspondence with Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.—who came to Ann Arbor in 1920 on the latter part of an exchange with Soochow Comparative Law School.  The Soochow Comparative Law School was itself closely tied to Michigan Law. Founded in 1915, it grew to extraordinary prominence under the leadership of Michigan Law Professor William Wirt Blume.


John C.H. Wu
(Courtesy of Bentley Historical Library.  Alumni Records (University of Michigan), Box 460)

In the first four decades of the 20th century, Michigan Law stood as the primary destination of the best Chinese law graduates pursuing further study and research in the outside world. After the start of the PRC's "Reform and Opening to the Outside World" policy in 1979, Michigan Law once again became a major destination for China's top legal scholars. This traffic increased with the Ford Foundation-supported establishment of the Committee on Legal Education with China (CLEEC) in the early 1980s, a project led by Michigan Professor Emeritus Whitmore Gray in conjunction with faculty colleagues from the University of California Berkeley, Columbia, Georgetown and Harvard. Pre-eminent Chinese law scholars who studied at Michigan Law under CLEEC auspices include: Professor He Weifang of the Beijing University Law School; Grand Justice Wan E'xiang of the China Supreme People's Court; Wang Liming, Dean Emeritus of the China People's University School of Law and now Executive Vice President of China People's University; and Professor Zeng Lingliang, Wuhan University School of Law Dean Emeritus.

With the end of CLEEC in the 1990s, Michigan continues to be a key destination for China's top law scholars. In the past five years, the Law School has welcomed the likes of: Tsinghua Law School Professor Zhu Ciyun (a key drafter of China's Company Law); East China University of Politics and Law Professor Li Xiuqing (Secretary General of the Chinese Foreign Legal History Association and Editor-in-Chief of East China University of Politics and Law Journal); Vice Dean of National Taiwan University Law School Sheng-lin Jan; East China University of Politics and Law President He Qinhua; Jiaotong University KoGuan Law School Dean Ji Weidong; and China People's University corporate law expert Liu Junhai.

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