School of Law establishes concurrent degree program in China

Guanghua Law School Dean Zhu Xinli and Case Western Reserve School of Law Co-Dean Michael Scharf shake hands
Guanghua Law School Dean Zhu Xinli and Case Western Reserve School of Law Co-Dean Michael Scharf

Starting next fall semester, a new concurrent degree program will allow Case Western Reserve University law students to complete their third year in China, while simultaneously earning an LLM (Master of Laws) degree in Chinese Law at Zhejiang University – Guanghua Law School and a JD from CWRU School of Law.

The agreement is among the first between law schools in the United States and China, and increases the number of international concurrent degree programs offered by Case Western Reserve’s law school to four—among the most made available by a U.S. law school.

“The practice of law grows increasingly international each year,” said Case Western Reserve law school Co-Dean Michael Scharf, who signed the concurrent degree agreement in China with Guanghua Law Dean Zhu Xinli. Scharf directs the law school’s Frederick K. Cox International Law Center.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for Case Western Reserve students and Guanghua students to further enhance their employability by earning two degrees at the same time at no extra cost,” Scharf said.

The program also permits qualified students in their fourth year of Guanghua Law School to spend an entire academic year at CWRU School of Law in studies for the LLM in U.S. and Global Legal Studies. They can complete the LLM degree from CWRU and a law degree from Guanghua.

Each year, up to two Case Western Reserve students can attend Zhejiang University, and two from Zhejiang can attend CWRU. While visiting, students pay tuition to their home institutions.

“We anticipate that both sides will send the maximum, but it doesn’t require an equal number every year,” Scharf said.

Case Western Reserve is among the first American law schools to offer concurrent degree opportunities, said CWRU law school Co-Dean Jessica Berg. The agreement with Zhejiang marks the fourth concurrent degree available to CWRU law students. In the past two years, similar agreements were completed with Comillas University in Madrid, University of Paris (Dauphine) and Middlesex University in London.

CWRU Law Professor Tim Webster, who directs the law school’s Asian Legal Studies program and negotiated the Zhejiang agreement, is a former visiting scholar at Guanghua Law.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for law students curious about China and interested in international commerce,” Webster said.

He said Hangzhou is a beautiful city with magnificent scenery, especially around West Lake.

“It is also China’s Silicon Valley, home to such global companies as Alibaba, Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd. (which owns Volvo), and Wanxiang Automotive Parts,” Webster said. “Students will have the opportunity to intern, perhaps at one of those multinational companies, learn about Chinese law in English from faculty there and earn a fantastic academic credential at the same time.”