Edwards Fund

Columbia Law School hopes you will join us in honoring Professor R. Randle Edwards, founder of the Center for Chinese Legal Studies, for his dedication to the study of Chinese law for more than 40 years by giving a special gift to the Professor R. Randle Edwards Fund for the Center for Chinese Legal Studies.

edwards headshot

This year marks the 84th birthday of Professor Edwards and the 34th anniversary of the Center for Chinese Legal Studies. Under the direction of Professor Edwards and his successor, Professor Benjamin Liebman, the Center has served as the premier home for the study of Chinese law in the United States. Today, the Center hosts one of the largest concentrations of students and scholars studying the law of China outside of Asia, and it is the focal point for China-related curricular, extracurricular, and exchange activity at Columbia Law School.

To honor Professor Edwards, whose influence continues to shape the evolution of Chinese law and legal practice, Columbia Law School has established the Professor R. Randle Edwards Fund for the Center for Chinese Legal Studies. The Edwards Fund will create an endowment to provide permanent support for the work of the Center by supporting the full range of the Center's activities--including student research, internships, and fellowships and faculty research, teaching, and conferences.

During his time at Columbia Law School, Edwards developed the Program in American Law Scholars (PALS) in the 1970s, which revived and expanded the Law School's tradition of rich scholarly exchange with the Chinese legal community after China began its economic reforms in 1978. He also served as chair of the Committee for Legal Education Exchange with China (CLEEC), a program often recognized as the most important legal education exchange between China and the United States after diplomatic relations were restored between the two countries in 1979.

As a way to celebrate the legacy of Edwards and the Center's anniversary, alumni, colleagues, and friends gathered on May 16, 2014 with Professor Edwards at the St. Regis Hotel in Beijing. Those in attendance came from as far as Jakarta, Taiwan, and the United States to honor Edwards. 

Much has changed both in the Chinese legal system and in U.S.-China legal interactions since Professor Edwards and Columbia Law School established the Center for Chinese Legal Studies in 1983. Yet the central goals of the Center remain largely consistent: 

  • deepen the understanding of the Chinese legal system among practitioners, scholars, business leaders, and policy makers;
  • further U.S.-China legal exchange through important and innovative scholarship by students and faculty;
  • foster dialogue and debate on the most important issues shaping the evolution of law and legal practice in China today;
  • train the next generation of Chinese lawyers and scholars, along with the best scholars from around the world focused on the law of China; and
  • encourage the development of public interest law in China.

The establishment of the Edwards Fund at Columbia will ensure that the Center for Chinese Legal Studies continues to advance these important goals.