Beida's Bar Dreams

A hat tip to Above the Law for including an article about Beijing University's (Beida) ambitions to set up a new School of Law that would receive ABA-accreditation, allowing students to take the US bar after graduation (and requiring them to take the LSAT for entry), and teaching all classes in English.

The school will be set up at Beida's campus in Shenzhen and its new dean, Jeffrey S. Lehman, shows how serious Beida is about this new school. Lehman previously worked as President of Columbia University and Dean of University of Michigan School of Law.

A little more from the article:
The freestanding school will operate independently of Peking’s existing,
Chinese-style law school. Like any American law school, the courses will be
taught in English, the cases will be from American law – and most of the
professors will be from American law schools. In order to simulate the course of
study of a typical American law student, the school currently requires that
applicants major in a subject other than law as undergraduates, a stipulation
that Lehman suggested could be counterproductive in the long run.
This fall will see the first incoming class of only 55 students begin their studies and the price (around US$10,000 puts it far above any other Chinese graduate school, but still far cheaper than a US law school).

It's going to be an interesting experiment and if they do get ABA-accreditation, this could be huge. One can understand the desire for the experiment to begin in Shenzhen, but if its successful, I can't imagine it not moving to the school's main campus in Beijing. Beida already has a huge endowment and one can see how major international companies and organizations would be falling over themselves to help fund the school, as well as the many Beida (and particularly Beida law) grads who've gone on to success in China and around the world. With Lehman behind, ABA-accreditation, and money, one can see how this school could quickly take off and in 10-15 years (or even less), be a Tier 1 US law school.

What will the application requirements be? Will US students be allowed to apply? When could they (will they) get the ABA's blessing? It's going to be interesting to see what comes of this...

1 comment:

Thomas Chow said...

I also discussed this matter on my blog, but my thoughts are a little more cynical than your take on this article. Much of that is because (1) I am not too fond of the idea and (2) I just don't see this school gaining ABA accreditation. This likely isn't the first push for an int'l school to get accreditation, but it's one of the largest schools in the world to do so, and has gained more headlines. Ultimately though, I just don't see it happening.