In September, Drake University Law School will host 29 Chinese law students from the Southwest University of Political Science & Law (SWUPL) in Chongqing, China. The four-week visit is part of the Law School’s second annual Introduction to the American Legal System and American Law Program.
The program will include traditional classroom work taught by Drake Law faculty as well as an experiential education component. The students will learn first-hand about the three branches of government—legislative, executive, and judicial—by visiting with Iowa legislators, observing a Polk County jury trial and Iowa Supreme Court oral arguments, meeting Iowa Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg, LW’09, and more.
“The program has been designed based on the hallmark of a Drake legal education—teaching the students not only law from the books, but also showing them law in action,” said Russell Lovell, retired professor and former associate dean at Drake Law School.
After arriving in Des Moines on Sept. 4, the students will attend an orientation to get acquainted with Drake’s campus and resources. A welcome dinner will feature remarks from Drake President Marty Martin, Drake Law Dean Jerry Anderson, Drake Student Bar Association President Chas Cahill, Chinese Association of Iowa President Swallow Yan, and other local leaders.
Over the next several weeks, the program coursework will include lectures on the American legal system, international trade, the criminal justice system, constitutional law, equal employment, environmental law, and business law.
The students will also participate in field trips to the Des Moines Register, the World Food Prize Hall of Laureates, the Judicial Branch Building, Principal, and the Iowa State Capitol. They will tour Kimberly Farm, a local farm visited by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2012 that serves as a prototype for China’s model farm of the 21st century. At a visit to Dorsey Law Firm, they will join in a video conference with Dorsey’s Hong Kong office.
In addition, the students will meet with leaders of non-governmental advocacy organizations including Citizens for Community Improvement (CCI) of Iowa, the NAACP-Des Moines chapter, and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Iowa.
During the visit, the students will stay in a residence hall on campus. They will have free time to experience festivals and cultural activities in the Des Moines area, attend Drake athletic events, or join in activities planned by the Drake Chinese Students and Scholars Association. Several Drake Law faculty will host groups of students for dinner in their homes.
The visit will culminate with a closing banquet on Sept. 27, where the students will receive Drake Law certificates for successfully completing the program.
Drake’s Introduction to the American Legal System and American Law Program, which allows the students to earn academic credit at SWUPL, builds on a long-standing partnership between the two institutions.
“Our deepening relationship with SWUPL allows our faculty to make valuable connections with our counterparts in Chinese legal academia,” said Jerry Anderson, dean of Drake Law School. “Drake Law students benefit from getting to know the SWUPL students and gain knowledge about a legal system significantly different from their own.”
Lovell is organizing the program with support from Stephanie Dana Ely, international partnerships and customized program coordinator at Drake. Drake Law alumni and students will serve as teaching assistants.