St. Mary’s University School of Law is unveiling a new program especially designed for the challenges of representing clients doing business with Chinese partners.

In keeping with St. Mary’s University’s strategic plan Vision 2012, which calls for a curriculum that expands our borders and takes into consideration an interdependent global economy, School of Law Dean Charles E. Cantú has established a new study abroad program in China that will open the doors to a new world of opportunity for law students.

The St. Mary’s Institute on Chinese Law and Business will include five courses over four weeks taught by both St. Mary’s law professors and Chinese law professors in Beijing at The Law School of Beihang University. Beginning summer 2010, students will be introduced through business law-related courses, field trips and guest speakers, to the key features of the Chinese legal system and the instruments of international and domestic law governing cross-border sales of goods, protection of intellectual property and investments. Students will learn the practicalities of doing business in China, as well as dispute resolution mechanisms that play a large role in enforcing private agreements between enterprises in China and the United States.

Last week in Beijing, an official agreement of cooperation was signed between St. Mary’s University School of Law and The Law School of Beihang University giving the official green light for the program. On behalf of St. Mary’s School of Law, Cantú and the program’s co-directors, Vincent R. Johnson, professor of Law and Robert H. Hu, Ph.D., director of Law Library and associate professor of Law, traveled to China to finalize the agreement. The contract  includes faculty exchanges between schools as well as a provision that St. Mary’s will provide one visiting scholar position every two years for Beihang Law School’s faculty to conduct legal research on St. Mary’s campus in San Antonio. Student exchanges between the schools, such as allowing Beihang Law School’s graduate students to enter St. Mary’s LL.M. program, will be encouraged. Libraries from both schools will exchange legal publications and library information and materials throughout the partnership.

Cantú anticipates this introduction to doing legal business in China will lead to a greater global interest and internships for some of St. Mary’s best students. Previously, Cantú and Hu visited with China’s two largest law firms, King and Wood and Jun He Law Offices in Beijing. The firms are involved in extensive Chinese and international legal practice and represent American and multinational companies as clients.  Both firms have agreed to place St. Mary’s students with internship positions.

“It is our hope that our students will explore China and return with a greater understanding of how business is done in China and an increased understanding of how the world works and where they fit into it,” Cantu said.

Beijing, a city with more than 12 million inhabitants, is home to many top Chinese law schools. Hu estimates those schools bring around 500 American students in for summer study abroad programs. Interacting with other top American law students will add to the student experience, even on the other side of the world.

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