Legal Specialists and Judicial Administration in Late Imperial China, 1651-1911
Late Imperial China, Vol. 33, No. 1, June 2012
48 Pages Posted: 29 Oct 2011 Last revised: 19 Jun 2012
Date Written: October 1, 2011
This article studies the historical origin, legal training, career patterns, professional identity and ethics, judicial philosophy, and scale of professionalization of thousands of legal specialists in late imperial China from about 1651 to 1911. It is the first serious, extensive study in English of these early modern Chinese jurists and legal professionals who were the de facto judges in probably most of the 1650 Chinese local governments/courts for more than two centuries. For the first time, it uses archival sources to offer an estimate of about 3,000 such trained legal specialists working in local Chinese governments in any given year from roughly 1711 to 1911, which means an estimated total of 30,000 for that period as a whole, assuming an average tenure of 20 years of full employment for them. This study calls for a rethinking of much of the received wisdom on late imperial Chinese law and society, judicial administration, culture and politics, as well as their legacy on modern China's drive for the rule of law. It will also be of value to scholars of comparative law, legal philosophy, professionalism, and Asian legal cultures.
Keywords: Chinese law, Chinese legal culture, legal history, lawyers, Comparative law, Comparative legal history, Asian law
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