Greetings from Beijing, where it’s been my great privilege to attend commencement exercises marking the 15th anniversary of Temple Law School’s Rule of Law program in China. I could not be more proud of what Temple has accomplished through this program. Since its founding in 1999, the Temple Rule of Law program has educated a total of 1,281 legal professionals. Nearly two-thirds of these participants have been from the public sector. That figure includes 384 judges, 163 prosecutors, 115 government officials, 162 law professors, and 46 NGO legal staff. Temple’s LL.M. Program in Beijing, which was the first foreign cooperative law degree program in China, also remains unique: Many entities operate legal education programs in China, but to date, there is no China-sanctioned degree-granting program similar to Temple Law’s.
All of this came from one idea. My predecessor, former Dean Bob Reinstein, and former Temple President Peter Liacouras, foresaw the emergence of China as a global force. Dean Reinstein recognized an opportunity to contribute to the shaping of Chinese legal culture by offering training in American legal principles to Chinese lawyers and judges in positions of influence. Each time we visit we are gratified to hear of the marked upward trajectory of the careers of our former students, and of the impact of our training on their legal thinking.
Our visit to China follows on President Xi Jinping’s recent Fourth Plenum. President Jinping has made a centerpiece of his presidency respect for and adherence to the rule of law. It is gratifying to see the values of our program reinforced by so respected a voice and on so prominent a stage. The takeaway from this, to me, is that we must remember every day that our actions have consequences, and if we are fortunate they have meaning. I think it would be hubris to suggest that our program directly influenced President Jinping’s agenda. But I do believe that we complement, contribute to, and further China’s embrace of a value America cherishes, and that feels pretty good.