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Legal Education in China: The New “Outstanding Legal Personnel Education Scheme” and Its Implications

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  19 March 2013


After more than 60 years of development, the People's Republic of China has established the world's largest size of legal education, with 624 law schools and 450,000 thousands of undergraduate students currently enrolled. As Wenhua Shan explains, whilst the quality of education has also been improved, it generally falls short of meeting the domestic and international challenges that China is facing in legal education and practice. The most important measure recently adopted by the Chinese Government to enhance the quality of legal education, the “Outstanding Legal Personnel Education Scheme”, is poised to bring significant changes to the structure, contents and methods of Chinese legal education; and it will boost deeper cooperation between law schools and the practice sectors. Further measures are nevertheless required to achieve the desired results of the scheme and to place Chinese legal education in an internationally competitive position.

Chinese Law and Legal Information
Copyright © The Author(s) 2013. Published by British and Irish Association of Law Librarians

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1 Hu Jintao, Report to the 18th CPC National Congress (8 November 2012) (available at: <>, access 30 January 2013)

2 Xi Jinping Speaks on How to Improve the Political and Legal Works under the New Circumstances (7 January 2013) (posted at <>, accessed 30 January 2013).

3 Depei, Han and Kanter, Stephen, “Legal Education in China”, American Journal of Comparative Law, Vol. 32 No. 3 (1984), p. 545CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

4 Ji, Xiangde (2008), New Development of Legal Studies, China Social Sciences Press, p. 6Google Scholar.

5 Han Depei and Stephen Kanter, supra n. 3, p. 554

6 Xiangde Ji (2008), supra n. 4, pp. 7

7 Ji, Xiangde (2010), Modal of Legal Education in China, China Social Sciences Press, p. 2Google Scholar.

8 Source: Legal Daily (9 October 2012), posted at: <>(last visited 17 January 2013).

9 A statistical analysis can be found in Weidong Ji, “Legal Education in China: A Great Leap Forward of Professionalism”, (last visited 7 December 2012).

10 Xiangde Ji (2010), supra n. 7, p. 3

11 Xiangde Ji (2011), The Formation of a Chinese Model of Legal Education, Legal Forum (Faxue Luntan, in Chinese), Vol 26, No. 5, at p. 77.

12 One could perhaps add a third category of legal education, which is has been organized by the justice departments of all levels in the country, with a view to improving the general consciousness and basic knowledge of law among the general public. Since 1986, five rounds of such mass legal education have been conducted. For further details, see Xiangde Ji, ibid, at 78–79.

13 Ibid, pp. 81

14 Zhao, Jun, Hu, Ming, “A Comparative Study of the Legal Education System in the United States and China and the Reform of Legal Education in China”, Suffolk Transnational Law Review, Summer, 2012, pp. 335Google Scholar

15 Xiangde Ji (2008), supra n. 4, pp. 8–9

16 Previously, National Judicial Exam is only available for those who have already obtained a bachelor's degree. This was changed in 2008, when students of their third year in law schools were also allowed to take this Exam.

17 Haicong, Zuo, “Legal Education in China: Present and Future”, Oklahoma City University Law Review, Spring, 2009, p. 53Google Scholar

18 Xiangde Ji (2010), supra n. 7, p.215

19 Xianyi, Zeng, “Legal Education in China”, South Texas Law Review, Spring 2002, p. 713Google Scholar

20 Xiangde Ji (2010), supra n. 7, p. 256

21 Weidong Ji, supra n. 9.

22 For example, the National Lawyers Exam was started as early as 1986.

23 Xiangde Ji (2010), supra n. 7, pp. 394, 418; Weidong Ji, supra n. 9.

24 Xiangde Ji, ibid, pp. 397, 424.

25 Xiangde Ji (2008), supra n. 4, p. 101.

26 The Notification by Ministry of Justice, (last visited 15 January 2013).

28 Zuo Haicong, supra n. 17, p. 55

29 Abramson, Kara, “Paradigms in the Cultivation of China's Future Legal Elite: A Case Study of Legal Education in Western China”, Journal of Asian-Pacific Law & Policy, Vol. 7, Issue 2, Summer 2006, p. 328Google Scholar

30 Ibid, p. 335

31 Zuo Haicong, supra n. 17, p. 54

32 Xiangde Ji, supra n. 11.

33 Wenxian Zhang, China's WTO Accession and the Reform of Legal Education; Xianming Xu, Recent Trends in the Development of Legal Education and its Reform; Jin Huang, Improving the Quality of Legal Education to Cultivate Outstanding Legal Personnel; Limin Wang, Suggestions to the Current Reform of Legal Education and Teaching; Qinhua He, Promoting Concerted Innovation to Improve the Quality of Legal Education; Zhenmin Wang, Legal Education Should Pursue Value not Technicality. All of them are in Chinese and are available at the website of the China Society of legal Education: <> (accessed on 31 January 2013). Other important discussions include Li Su, Challenges and Opportunities to Contemporary Legal Education in China, Legal Science (Fa Xue) 2006 No. 2; Dayuan Han, Challenges to Chinese Legal Education in the Context of Globalization, Law Magazine (Faxue Zazhi), 2011 No. 3.

34 Chen Xueli, The Lowest Employment Rate for Law Graduates and 100 Times Increase for Law Schools in 30 Years, <> (last visited 12 December 2012)

35 Chen Xueli, ibid.

37 Source: Fulbright Commission: Choosing a Degree Program, posted at: <> (accessed 31 January 2013).

38 Source: US National Centre for Educational Statistics: <> (accessed 31 January 2013).

39 Source: Legal Daily (9 October 2012), posted at: <> (last visited 17 January 2013).

40 See e.g., Xianming Xu, supra n. 33.

41 Li Su, supra n. 33, at 11.

42 Ibid.

43 Zuo Haicong, supra n. 17, p. 58

44 ABA statistics show that in 2011–2012 the total enrollment of JD student in the USA is 146,288. For further details see ABA, “Enrollment and Degrees Awarded 1963–2011”, posted at <> (accessed 31 January 2013).

45 Hou Xinyi, “Modern Legal Education in China”, Address at Okla. City Univ. L. Sch. (Aug. 25, 2005) in 31 Okla. City U. L. Rev. 293 (2006).

46 Ibid.

47 See e.g., Yuan Ming, “The Aim of Legal Education and Its Approach”, (last visited 14 December 2012); Qilin Ma, “Legal Education of Today's China: Problems and Suggestions”, 2012, (last visited 13 December 2012).

48 Xu, supra n 33.

49 Ibid.

50 Zuo Haicong, supra n. 17, p. 57.

51 Wenhua Shan, Editorial, The Chinese Journal of Comparative Law (OUP), Vol. 1 No. 1.

52 Jun Zhao, Ming Hu, supra n. 14, pp. 356–358.

53 Ibid, p. 356.

54 Ibid.

55 Adelle Blackett, “Globalization and its Ambiguities: Implications for Law School Curricular Reform”, 37 Colum. J. Transnat'l L. 57, 68 (1998).

56 Jun Zhao, Ming Hu, supra n. 14, p. 357.

57 Ibid.

58 Qilin Ma, supra n. 47

59 Dayuan Han, supra n. 33, at 18–19.

60 “China launches Outstanding Legal Personnel Education Scheme”, China Education Daily (28 May 2012), posted at: <> (accessed 1 February 2012).

61 The full name of the document is “Several Opinions on the Implementation of the Scheme on Education and Cultivation of Outstanding Legal Personnel”, which was jointly enacted by Ministry of Education and the CPC Central Political and Legal Affairs Committee, on 23 December 2011, posted at: <> (last visited 8 December 2012).

62 Unless otherwise specified, all the contents of scheme are based on the above-mentioned document. Ibid.

63 Source: Legal Daily (1 November 2012), posted at: <> (accessed 2 February 2013).