News & Events

Print/PDF this page:

Print Friendly and PDF

Share this page:

The China Law Center Hosts U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connnor in Beijing for Discussions on Women and the Law

The China Law Center was honored to host Justice Sandra Day O’Connor for a series of events in Beijing on Women and the Law.  On May 28, 2007, the Center hosted a small group discussion on Women and the Law with Justice O’Connor and eleven of China’s brightest women legal activists, law professors, legal reporters, and law students.  Participants in the discussion included representatives from the Peking University Law School Center for Women’s Law and Legal Services, the Open Constitution Initiative, the Beijing Children’s Legal Aid and Research Center, Tsinghua University School of Law, Peking University School of Law, CLD Consultants, and Caijing Magazine. 

In a rich, wide-ranging, and inspiring exchange with the Chinese lawyers and legal scholars, Justice O’Connor described the difficulties she faced as a young law graduate in California, the advancement of women in the legal profession in the United States, and continuing challenges that women face in the legal field and beyond.  Recalling her early struggles, she encouraged the participants not to give up in the face of obstacles.  “Sometimes you have to be creative in a job that looks like it won’t be much,” she said, “You have to make something out of it!”  Her remarks sparked an active discussion with the Chinese participants that explored the individual backgrounds of the participants, the challenges of trying to change stereotypes in China, the difficulties of balancing a legal career and family obligations, the prospects for legal and constitutional reforms that might advance women’s rights in China, and other issues. 

Minchu Wang (YLS,’08) accompanies Justice O’Connor to Tiananmen Square 

On May 29, the Peking University Law School-Yale China Law Center Joint Center for Research and Cooperation on Law and Policy Reform co-sponsored a public speech and discussion with Justice O’Connor at Peking University Law School.  Speaking to an overflowing room of Chinese students, professors, and judges, Justice O’Connor again traced her own experience and the development of women in the U.S. legal profession.  She then took nearly forty minutes of questions from the audience on issues ranging from the difficulties women face in large law firms to recent debates over judicial independence in the United States.  When asked whether male and female judges decide cases differently, Justice O’Connnor expressed confidence that when faced with a similar issue “a wise old man and a wise old woman will reach the same conclusion.”  She encouraged the audience to build international bridges on law and policy reform, concluding that “We depend on each other across the globe and we have to learn how to work together in this world . . . lawyers can play a crucial role in that.”

 Justice O’Connor addresses students and faculty at Peking University Law School

Justice O’Connor has had a longstanding interest in China, having visited mainland China three times, given speeches on China’s legal development in the United States, and hosted numerous Chinese judges and delegations in Washington, D.C.