Professors Conduct Faculty Workshop in China
Program helps expand clinical education at Chinese law schools


American University Washington College of Law professors spent three weeks in China this summer conducting the faculty workshop “Establishing and Enhancing Clinical Legal Education in China.” The program teaches Chinese clinical law professors, or those looking to go into clinical legal education, the methods and techniques used by U.S. law schools and help them adapt these techniques to their the  Chinese legal education system and the Chinese legal system. WCL Professors Elliott Milstein, Susan Bennett, Robert Dinerstein, and Visiting Professor Jennifer Lyman led the workshop along with Professor Susan Bryant of CUNY School of Law.

There is currently a push for clinical education in China similar to the change that began in U.S. legal education 30-40 years ago. “Hiring managers are looking for law graduates who have real world legal skills that can be implemented immediately,” said Milstein, who organized the workshop. “The necessity of teaching students practical lawyering skills and shaping their professional values has been recognized here for years and now we are happy to share our experiences with law professors in China.”

The training, which took place in Hangzhou, China, a city several hours outside Shanghai, is a joint project of American University Washington College of Law and University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law, along with three Chinese law schools, China University of Political Science and Law, South China University of Technology and Zhejiang Gongshang University. The project is sponsored by a grant from USAID. In 2007, the workshop was conducted in Guangzhou, China.

The “students” are either professors already teaching in clinical programs who want to improve their methods and techniques or professors who are being recruited by Chinese law schools to specifically teach in newly created clinical programs.

“We are preparing lawyers for a world where the rule of law matters,” Milstein said. “Our hope is that these new clinical professors will use what we impart to them to develop clinical education that is useful in China.  They need to be able to teach their students, among other things, how to interview and develop appropriate relationships with clients how to investigate and use facts, and how to find legal solutions to client problems.”

Among other materials, the workshop participants utilized Milstein’s article “Rounds: A ‘Signature Pedagogy For Clinical Education?,’” which was published in the 2007 Clinical Law Review, and co-written with Professor Susan Bryant from CUNY School of Law  and Dinerstein’s article, “Client-Centered Counseling: Reappraisal and Refinement,” which was published in 1990 in the University of Arizona Law Review.

The 10 law clinics at Washington College of Law – including clinics focused on domestic violence, criminal justice, and international human rights – give student attorneys the opportunity to represent real clients with real legal problems, handle litigation from beginning to end, take full responsibility for clients’ cases, and learn lawyering skills at both a practical and theoretical level.

The goal of Washington College of Law’s clinical program is to help student attorneys develop the ability to learn from experience now and throughout their professional careers. For more information, visit the program web site.

(Photos from top to bottom: Professor Robert Dinerstein instructs several chinese professors; Professor Elliott Milstein with Vice Dean Wenyan Luo of Zhejiang Gongshang University of Hangzhou; and Professor Susan Bennett and China University of Politics and Law Professor Daisy Li celebrate their joint birthday.)

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