In an effort to attract more international students, the Beijing Foreign Studies University will soon be offering Chinese law programs online.
Starting in September 2013, students will be able to obtain a Chinese law certificate, diploma, or LLM in English without ever leaving Canada. Tuition for the course is US$20,000.
Richard Coward, marketing manager for China Global Education Services, says the university is trying to be more flexible by offering courses online.
“For many people who want to get a law degree or want to learn about Chinese law, it’s very hard for them to come to China for quite a long period of time,” he says.
This way, students will be able to work at the same time as taking courses or even be enrolled somewhere else. The full-time program is two years, but students can choose to complete it part time.
“Prior to these programs, an LLM in Chinese law required relocation to China for a period of two years, which is very difficult for many busy professionals. These courses take advantage of the latest technology and allow students to take the courses part time, on their own terms,” said Kimmy Wang, director of Law Spirit, in a release. Law Spirit, which created the online learning system, provides legal courses to the Chinese market. The LLM will be recognized worldwide.
As our world becomes increasingly connected, more lawyers are gaining an interest in foreign law, said Wang.
“With the growing Chinese economy and developing legal system, more and more international lawyers are doing business with China and looking to learn about Chinese law.”
Jack Yong, a partner at Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP in Vancouver and co-chairman of the firm’s China initiative, says along with more Canadian lawyers taking an interest in Chinese law, he sees more Chinese lawyers immigrating to Canada.
For law students who plan to do cross-border work with Chinese clients in the future, it is beneficial for them to learn about Chinese law in law school, he says. Even for practising lawyers, he says a lot of work is required to keep up with the rapid changes in Chinese law.
Yong, a law graduate of the University of British Columbia, didn’t take Chinese law courses in school. Now, UBC has a Centre for Asian Legal Studies, which offers a range of courses in Asian law.
Last year, Yong was seconded to a large Chinese law firm for three months where he worked closely with a cross-border transaction team and gained insight into the Chinese market.
Although it might be more costly, Yong says studying Chinese law in China is a more worthwhile experience than doing a program online.
“I think it’s good exposure because you get to see another part of the world, you understand another system of law, and it’s also good to meet other people in different jurisdictions and different markets,” he says. “So I think as part of this increasingly international business, which is the profession of law, it can’t hurt to have more international knowledge and experience.
“I think if the student really wants to understand the practice of law in China and the culture there and the business, there’s no substitute for being there physically,” he adds.
For more information, go to the Beijing Foreign Studies University’s web site.