At least three times in the last century, China has fundamentally reconstructed its legal system, and in each of those instances legal education led the way. Legal education anointed and produced new sources of authority, new doctrines, disciplinary conceptions and forms of knowledge, and new standards and mechanisms for training and credentialing the various categories of personnel required to staff the legal system. Time and again, China's legal education has faced existential crises over the quantity, quality and employability of its graduates, and their role in Chinese modernization. And repeatedly it has illustrated the dynamics of legal transplantation, globalization and indigenization, and served as an arena for fierce debates over the condition and future of Chinese legal reform at large. This talk will provide an overview of modern legal education in China from the waning days of the Qing to the Cultural Revolution, focusing on the themes above, and connecting them to present controversies in the PRC.

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About the Speaker

Glenn Tiffert is a Ph.D. candidate in History at the University of California, Berkeley. His research focuses on 20th-century China, particularly the transformations the Chinese legal system experienced across the late Imperial, Republican and PRC eras. His dissertation, “Courting Revolution: The Birth of the PRC Judicial System (1949-1958),” investigates the Republican-PRC transition and the contentious pursuit of revolution through the courts and law schools of Beijing. He has published scholarly works on the drafting of the 1954 PRC Constitution, the selection and training regimes for the Republican judiciary, and the institutional development of the Republican court system, as well as shorter pieces on issues in contemporary Chinese legal reform.


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