Columbia Law School Announces Greater China Public Interest Fellowship
Media Contact: Public Affairs: 212-854-2650 or [email protected]
New York, November 3, 2011—Columbia Law School has created the Greater China Public Interest Fellowship to help its graduates gain practical experience working with nonprofit organizations in mainland China, Hong Kong, or Taiwan. The one-year fellowship includes a stipend of $60,000 and is a pioneer in its field.
“Public interest law has developed significantly in China over the past decade, but it’s still very small and public interest jobs are difficult to find,” says Benjamin Liebman the Robert L. Lieff Professor of Law and director of the Center for Chinese Legal Studies. “This fellowship will allow our graduates to develop the necessary skills for a career in public interest law in greater China—whether in academic life, in nongovernmental organizations, or as legal practitioners.”
The fellowship will be granted once a year, beginning in the spring of 2012. Each recipient will be required to work with a host organization, such as an international NGO which promotes public interest law in greater China or a domestic Chinese public interest group, according to Liebman. Fellows will be encouraged to organize workshops for public interest lawyers, both in Greater China and at the Law School, and to share expertise and contacts with public interest practitioners working in the region.
“I have long recognized the important role of public interest law in a robust civil society,” said Annie Chen '88, whose gift established the fellowship. “It is especially meaningful for me to provide graduates from Columbia Law School with the opportunity to work in Greater China, where they will not only have a direct impact on a growing number of organizations engaged in public interest work, but also gain invaluable experience that I hope will benefit the fellows themselves, as well as others engaged in this important work.”
Chen is the founder of the Hong Kong-based River Star Foundation, which works to help create a more sustainable and equitable global community by supporting and investing in people and organizations that can act as catalysts for positive social change.
Public interest law has expanded dramatically in China over the past fifteen years, with a range of organizations working on issues as diverse as environmental law, the rights of migrant workers, and the rights of children. The expansion of public interest law reflects growing awareness of law and rights in China more generally, according to Liebman, who has written extensively on the growth of legal aid and public interest law in China.
The creation of the Fellowship is the latest in a series of programs created at Columbia Law School to assist the development of public interest law in China. Clinical legal faculty have been working with Chinese colleagues to develop law school-based clinics in China for more than a decade. The Law School also brings leading public interest practitioners from China to New York every year, through a collaboration with PILnet: The Global Network for Public Interest Law. And the Haas Fellowship provides support for students from China with a strong interest in public interest law to study at the Law School and to work in public interest organizations in the United States following graduation. The new fellowship adds to these efforts, providing crucial support for long-term career development of public interest practitioners in China.
Columbia Law School has been a leader in the study of and engagement with the Chinese legal system for more than 40 years. Founded in 1983, the Center for Chinese Legal Studies brings together one of the largest concentrations of students and scholars of China at any law school outside of China.
The new fellowship is available to Columbia Law School students who expect to receive a J.D. or LL.M. degree in 2012. Consideration will also be given to J.D. and LL.M. graduates of the classes of 2011 and 2010. Applicants must have strong Chinese language skills and be ready to begin work in the fall of 2012.
For more information, please visit: http://www.law.columbia.edu/center_program/chinese. To contact Professor Liebman, call (212) 854-0678 or email [email protected]
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