American Legal Education, Skills Training, and Transnational Legal Practice: Combining Dao and Shu for the Global Practitioner
Created on:2022-11-18 10:18 PV:190
By Michael A. Simons and Margaret E. McGuinness |Essay |8 Tsinghua China L. Rev. 125 (2015)   |   Download Full Article PDF


Transnational law subjects have become an integral part of U.S. law school curricula, and international students are vital members of our law school communities. However, to adequately prepare lawyers more effectively for global legal practice, law schools must integrate skills training into the teaching of transnational law. This essay discussing one comparative approach follows a recent symposia addressing current issues facing global legal education, and China’s reform programs for legal education.

I. Introduction

On October 10, 2015, Tsinghua University School of Law celebrated the twentieth anniversary of its reopening by hosting two important conferences. The first was a meeting of the China Law Society, focused on discussions and assessments of current reform programs for legal education in China. The second was a conference of legal educators from around the world addressing Global Legal Education at a Crossroads. The two conferences struck similar notes, reflecting a growing demand for access to legal education and legal services in China and around the globe, and the parallel need for law schools to assess whether legal education is up to the challenges and opportunities presented by increased globalization.

Global legal education has made significant progress is recent years. Just five years ago, when a different law school in Beijing celebrated a milestone anniversary with a similar conference, the tenor of the conference was decidedly different. Then, the legal educators gathered in Beijing were still advocating for the globalization of legal education. Now, however, the concept of global legal education and a more globalized approach to the operation of law schools is, in 2015, a fait accompli. There is no question that global legal education has arrived. The question before us, at this crossroads moment, is where is global legal education going. . .

One answer to that question could be found in a common concern expressed by many of the Chinese legal educators at both the Tsinghua Global Legal Education conference and the China Law Association meeting: the importance of giving law students training in the specific skills they will need for the practice of law.’ Tsinghua University School of Law’s former Dean Wang Chenguang emphasized the point by drawing a contrast between the Chinese concepts of “dao” (道) and “shu” (术), which roughly correspond to the American legal tradition’s distinction between doctrine and skills. Drawing on recent advances in American legal education, and using St. John’s University as an example, this essay will argue that the key to train lawyers effectively for transnational practice is to combine dao and shu in global legal education.