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Posted July 7, 2011

Mahoney Attends Law School Dean Summit with Chinese Educators

China summit
Dean Paul G. Mahoney and eight other U.S. law school deans joined Chinese educators for a summit in Beijing. Photo courtesy University of Pennsylvania Law School.

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Mary Wood

UVA Law School Dean Paul G. Mahoney recently attended an unprecedented summit in Beijing between deans from leading law schools in the United States and China.

Mahoney, who joined eight other U.S. deans and 10 Chinese law school leaders at the summit June 20-21, said China already has more than 500 law schools, compared to 200 in the United States.

“As with everything in China, the scale is simply overwhelming,” Mahoney said. “China has become an important source of students in our LL.M. program and is becoming an important destination for our J.D. graduates.” 

Following the summit, the deans issued a joint statement outlining their shared principles, including recognition of and support for the rule of law, and the objective of establishing ongoing two-way collaboration between top U.S. and Chinese law schools. 

“The Chinese deans and policymakers, no less than the Americans, had a clear sense of connection between legal education and the kind of society China will become — one governed by administrative fiat or by law,” Mahoney said.

The U.S. deans were organized by Michael Fitts, dean of the University of Pennsylvania Law School. In addition to the summit sessions, participants met for over an hour with State Councillor Liu Yandong, the senior Chinese government official responsible for education and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s counterpart for the Sino-U.S. people-to-people exchange. 

Mahoney said he expects to return to China frequently in the coming years because his own research involves the impact of law on economic performance.

“China will be an important test case for the relative importance of economic and political reforms to prosperity,” he said.

Fitts convened the summit at the suggestion of then-U.S. ambassador to China Jon Huntsman, who saw it as an important forum for Chinese and American leaders in law and higher education to come together on the basis of shared values and interests.

The joint statement issued by the American and Chinese law deans noted that they:

The U.S. law deans also met with U.S. embassy staff as well as Tung Chee Hwa, the former chief executive of the Hong Kong, and Gao Xiqing, the head of the China Investment Corporation (the PRC’s sovereign wealth fund).

List of China deans:

List of U.S. deans:

Adapted from a University of Pennsylvania Law School Release