Crossing Borders: Creating an American Law Clinic in China
Cecily E. Baskir
Peking University School of Transnational Law
September 25, 2012
19 Clinical Law Review 163 (2012)
NYLS Clinical Research Institute Paper No. 05/2012
In the last twelve years, over eighty Chinese law schools have incorporated clinical legal education into their course offerings. Of these, the Center for Cross-Border Advocacy at the Peking University School of Transnational Law was the first live-client clinical legal education program to provide transnational – not domestic – legal representation. Under the supervision of an American clinical law professor licensed to practice law in the United States, Chinese law students in the Center represented immigrants in the United States at the administrative appeals stage of their deportation proceedings. In the complementary seminar, the students studied U.S. immigration law and appellate procedure, practiced advanced legal writing and oral advocacy, and explored issues of professional responsibility and cross-cultural lawyering. This article examines the creation of the Center for Cross-Border Advocacy and how the Center fit into the Chinese context of clinical legal education. It analyzes the Center’s unique benefits for Chinese students, including providing direct exposure to different norms of legal practice, an opportunity to develop stronger cross-cultural lawyering skills, and a relatively safe environment for engaging in critical thinking about rule of law. The article explores in particular how representing non-Chinese immigrants in U.S. tribunals created a three-dimensional cultural exchange in the clinic while minimizing potential political backlash. It cautions, however, that cross-border clinics risk creating an appearance of legal imperialism and having only a limited impact on social justice issues within China. The article proposes that in the future, situating a transnational clinic within the same clinical program as a domestic Chinese clinic may alleviate those risks and promote even greater cross-fertilization of ideas.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 44
Keywords: China, clinical legal education, immigration law, transnational lawAccepted Paper Series
Date posted: April 4, 2012 ; Last revised: April 30, 2013
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