Mastering the mainland law
In an age of globalisation, big Chinese businesses are striving to gain international standing by operating according to the world's best practices.
This spells greater demand for management training, providing the impetus for tertiary institutions around the world to develop a position in the postgraduate education market in China.
Highly respected institutions are partnering with Chinese universities to run MBA and Executive MBA programmes, setting up campuses in major cities and providing opportunities for student exchanges.
Mirroring this push into management training is a rising number of postgraduate law courses that focus on Chinese law. These programmes expose Hong Kong and international students to Chinese law schools and their students, and to the Chinese legal system.
'Students cannot afford to just focus on Hong Kong,' says Gu Minkang, associate dean of City University's School of Law. 'They need to see the city as a bridge to China, where the big marketplace is. Students need to make knowledge of Chinese law the foundation of their professional careers.'
In 1995, CityU became the first university in Hong Kong to offer a Master of Laws programme that focuses on Chinese and comparative law. It has a yearly intake of more than 100 students and also teaches international economic law, maritime and transport law and common law.
One of the key features is an exclusive agreement with the National Judges College of the Supreme People's Court and the Columbia Law School to provide advanced education to Chinese judges. Thirty mainland judges are invited each year to study the LLM programme at CityU.
'Mainland judges have all completed their legal education and have a very good understanding of the workings of the Chinese legal system,' Gu says. 'They come to CityU to complete the common law stream of our programme. In order to complete the overall programme, they also need to complete courses from the other streams. All our regular students get the opportunity to become classmates of these Chinese judges.'
The judges also go on a six-week study tour to Columbia Law School in New York. They also visit the US Supreme Court and US Department of Justice in Washington.
CityU also invites professors from institutions such as the Yale Law School and the University of Oxford's faculty of law to teach. The LLM programme can be done full-time in one year or part-time over two years at a cost of HK$96,000.
'With the 500 biggest companies in the world having an office in mainland China, there are more opportunities for legal professionals to practise there. Most of our students plan to work [on the mainland] once they have completed our programme,' Gu says.
Other postgraduate programmes focusing on the Chinese legal system can be found at the University of Hong Kong, HKU School of Professional and Continuing Education and Chinese University.
The HKU law faculty offers a cross-border double master's degree in law in conjunction with Peking University's Law School.
HKU Space is working with Tsinghua University to offer a Juris Master programme taught entirely by Tsinghua professors, who fly in to deliver their classes. Final-year students spend a week in Beijing to visit judicial bodies and law firms, and to take practice-oriented lessons at Tsinghua University. Chinese University's law faculty offers a one-year full-time LLM in Chinese Business Law.