In its ongoing efforts to globalize the educational experience of University of Arizona law students and expand international career prospects for graduates, the UA's James E. Rogers College of Law is stepping up its outreach to universities in several countries, including China.
Brent White, professor of law and the college's associate dean for programs and global initiatives, recently returned from China, where he met with administrators at five major law schools to establish dual-degree programs that will allow Chinese students to obtain both their home country law degree – an LLB – and a Juris Doctorate from the UA in only five years.
The law schools are: Tsinghua University Law School in Beijing, Shandong University Law School in Jinan, Fudan University Law School in Shanghai, Sun Yat-Sen University Law School in Guangzhou and Guangzhou Southwest University of Politics and Law in Chongqing.
In addition, UA law students will be able to spend their second or third year of law school studying at either Tsinghua University or Fudan University law school in China. Students would still graduate from the UA in three years, but with both a J.D. from the UA and an LLM in Chinese Law from Tsinghua Law School, or an LLM in Chinese Business Law from Fudan Law School.
Tsinghua and Fudan law schools are ranked among the top five law schools in China. The LLM programs at both schools are conducted in English, making them accessible to any interested UA student.
White, who also is an affiliated professor of East Asian studies, says the arrangements will be beneficial to UA law students and will dramatically expand the UA's reach on the global stage.
"These dual-degree programs respond to the growing demand for lawyers who are fully trained and qualified to practice law in more than one country," White said. "At the same time, they provide our students with access to a global network of Arizona Law graduates and to literally a world of future employment opportunities."
The partnerships supplement several dual-degree programs already established between the UA and universities elsewhere in the world with the help of the UA's Office of Global Initiatives. In 2012, three Chinese students enrolled at the law school to earn their law degrees through partnership agreements with Ocean University of China in Qingdao. In the fall another student from Ocean University and a student from Southwest University of Finance and Economics in Chengdu will join the first-year law class at the UA as part of existing dual-degree arrangements with those law schools.
"We are very excited about the development of these new international programs," said Dale LaFleur, director of institutional relations in the Office of Global Initiatives. "Dual-degree programs are mutually beneficial for the students and the partner institutions. They offer a unique experience for all students who enroll, and partner institutions are able to expand the scope of their program."
The UA's College of Law also has dual-degree partnerships with law schools in India, Chile, Mexico, Japan and Mongolia – and is holding ongoing discussions with law schools in France, Norway, Ireland and Australia to establish similar partnerships. The Office of Global Initiatives has streamlined the process of establishing international dual-degree programs, which involves coordinated efforts with the respective academic department, the Graduate College, and the Office of the General Counsel.
Students from these partnerships and other students from around the world who apply on their own to the accelerated J.D. program for non-U.S. lawyers now make up around 20 percent of the entire J.D. class. Other lawyers from outside the U.S. come to study in the UA's globally respected LLM programs in International Trade and Business Law, and in Indigenous Peoples Law and Policy.
The partnership agreements with leading universities and the lawyers they bring to the UA enrich the lives of all members of the College of Law community, says college dean Marc Miller.
"In all areas of law, our students need a firm grasp of the global, international and comparative dimensions of law," he said. "The best-prepared lawyers will be those who have had the opportunity to know and study alongside students from divergent cultures. This has been true for a long time, but never more than today."