A Globalized Law School Experience

Nov. 16, 2012

Chinese student Jiaqui Liu studied law for three years at Ocean University in Quingdao. As he pursued his goal to practice internationally, he faced a challenge: How would he learn how to cross international legal and cultural borders to be successful in an increasingly globalized world?

To answer that question, Liu decided to attend the James E. Rogers College of Law at the University of Arizona through the JDAS (Juris Doctor with Advanced Standing) program. Through a unique partnership between Ocean University and the UA’s law school, he was able to study for his first three years of his J.D. degree in China, and come here to complete his degree.

In all, the program offers him the chance to gain the international perspective he needs, and still complete his studies – all within the normal span of time.

“I want to study the constitutional law of the United States. I plan to work in the international organizations in the future and contribute to promoting the advancement of liberty and fairness,” he says with pride and the drive of someone who has his eyes on the prize.

Liu is certainly not alone in his pursuit. There is Alberta Chu from Hong Kong who plans to practice law in the United States. And Ling Zhu from China who wants to get involved in global IT policy-making.  Virgilio Alejandro Barazarte from Venezuela plans to open his own practice. And Samridhi Vasudeva from India wants to practice transactional law, building bridges between American law firms and firms in her home country.

Gaining Advanced Standing and Global Perspective

“This year, we have 12 JDAS students. Eight of those are here through partnerships we’ve set up with universities in other countries,” says law school Dean Marc Miller.

The JDAS program focuses on students who have received their first degree from a university outside the United States. Many of the JDAS candidates are foreign law graduates who are currently residing in the U.S. but are not authorized to practice state law because they lack a J.D. degree and thus cannot sit for the bar.

Therein lies the unique benefit for these students: as J.D. graduates of the UA, they will be allowed to sit for the bar in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, making them highly desirable to law firms and businesses across the U.S. as well as in their home countries.

Brent White, associate dean for Programs and Global Initiatives at the law school, is equally excited about the program.

“The JDAS and Global Law Partnership programs fill a growing need for truly international legal education. The demand for this kind of education is certainly high, both from the students as well as the institutions themselves. We’ve found that we can partner with strong, innovative institutions around the world. “

A Leading Model for a Global Perspective

Today, the James E. Rogers College of Law has formal partnerships with Jindal University in India, the National Law School of Jodhpur in India, Mongolia National University in Mongolia, Ocean University in China, and La Universidad Mayor in Chile. The college is also nearing agreements with additional law schools in Mexico, China, Japan and Australia.

“In addition to these partnership, we are also working to secure private funding for our international students”, says White. 

As examples, White cites two current students from Mongolia, Nomin Dashnyam and Nomindari Otgonbayar, who are here because international law firm MahoneyLiotta LLC is funding their studies and has committed to hire them when they graduate.

“This is the model we want for all these partnerships. Due to the support of MahoneyLiotta, we can now say to other law firms, let us show you how this has worked, and why it’s interest of law firms and businesses to support these young lawyers,” says Miller, who sees the JDAS program as model for U.S. legal education.

“We have these countries reaching out to us,” he says. “We’re at the forefront of the expansion of the American law system.”

The benefits for University of Arizona students are many. Along with receiving an excellent education, they get to do so in a truly international classroom.

“The kinds of interactions we’ve had are remarkable,” says Miller. “You enrich the experience for every student and faculty member by having a global discussion.”