PUBLISHED:May 08, 2015

Duke Law honors robust group of SJD graduates at May 9 hooding ceremony

Eight international lawyers will receive the SJD, the highest academic degree in law, during Duke University’s upcoming graduation weekend.

The graduates, several of whom also hold LLM degrees from Duke, focused their research in a diverse range of areas, including human rights and comparative constitutional design; intellectual property law and ethics; international humanitarian law and the law of armed conflicts; private law theory; ocean and coastal management and regulation; and financial regulatory reform.

Each SJD graduate completed a multi-year course of study and research at the Law School, culminating with the successful defense, during the past academic year, of a scholarly dissertation. And each was supervised by a faculty scholar with expertise in the candidate’s research area and at least two other faculty members who formed the student's doctoral committee.

Duke Law SJD graduates hold positions on prestigious law faculties, at high levels of government, and within law firms around the world. For those planning to enter academic careers, the SJD prerequisite of an LLM, the close subsequent doctoral supervision, and the opportunity to attend more classes at Duke Law in their chosen fields, offers “a rigorous and rich preparation,” said Lawrence Baxter, the William B. McGuire Professor of the Practice of Law who oversaw the dissertation of graduate Cheng-Yun Tsang LLM ’11.

“Numerous publications by our SJD graduates and their very successful subsequent careers speak well of the degree and reflect very well on Duke Law,” he said. “SJD students also bring a lot to the school, in terms of expert foreign knowledge, collegiality with our American students — all of whom in my experience relish the national-international interaction and the global network they are able to develop — and collaboration with faculty on issues of global importance.”

That is particularly important in the field he shares with Tsang, global finance. Baxter had high praise for the scope and depth of Tsang’s research and analysis on global efforts to improve financial regulation in the wake of the financial crisis, and his development of the “Collaborative Market Discipline” approach to regulatory efforts.

“It’s a discipline he commends to reformers and regulators for achieving a realistic and appropriate balance between financial enterprise in a well-functioning market and the regulation necessary to preserve that market and protect us from financial instability,” said Baxter. “In what may be the first full articulation of the modern Chinese system of financial regulation, Tsang adapts his Collaborative Market Discipline to the Chinese financial system, and he concludes with a number of recommendations for reform as that system evolves into a mature participant in the global financial market.”

While Tsang had contemplated pursuing an SJD before beginning his LLM studies, taking Baxter’s course on “Banking Regulation in the Post-Crash Economy” convinced him Duke was the right place to do so, he said. “I was amazed and inspired by not only the scope and depth of Professor Baxter’s knowledge in law and finance, but also by his high-level professional experience in the real world of banking. More importantly, I found a leading expert who shares my scholarly interests, and a supportive mentor whom I can work with for my future academic career.”

Tsang also appreciated Duke’s strong presence in financial law, both in curricular offerings and supportive faculty scholars eager to facilitate students’ connections with alumni and professionals in their networks. Baxter, he noted, helped him secure a regulatory affairs internship with the Institute of International Finance, the world’s largest global association for financial institutions.

The rigorous level of inquiry demanded of SJD candidates can lay the groundwork for substantive and ongoing collaborations between students and supervisors, such as that between Mong-Hwa Chin and Neil Vidmar, the Russell M. Robinson II Professor of Law and Professor of Psychology. When Vidmar, a jury expert, was invited to speak at a conference in Taiwan on international approaches to citizen participation in courtroom proceedings, he immediately saw a chance to collaborate with Chin, who was focusing his dissertation on the decision-making processes of inquisitorial trial judges, and interviewing judges across that country. The two co-wrote a scholarly article on potential sources of prejudice that can influence lay adjudicators in criminal proceedings and the implications for Taiwan, which is beginning to include them. Vidmar and Chin made joint presentations both at the Taipei conference last September and directly to Taiwanese judges elsewhere.

Duke Law School will honor the following SJD graduates during its 2015 hooding ceremony on May 9:

  • Dian Abdul Hamed Shah LLM ’09, “Constitutionalizing Religion and Religious Freedom: A Comparative Study of Indonesia, Malaysia, and Sri Lanka” (Supervisor: Professor Donald Horowitz)
  • Mong-Hwa Chin LLM ’11, “A Social Psychological Perspective on the Decisionmaking Process of Trial Judges in Taiwan” (Supervisor: Professor Neil Vidmar)
  • Rasmus Goksor, “Scandinavian Private Law: Nationalism, Realism, and Instrumentalism in Private Law” (Supervisor: Professor Ralf Michaels)
  • Pedro de Paranagua Moniz, “Brazil’s Copyright Law Revision – Tropicalia 3.0?” (Supervisor: Professor Jerome Reichman)
  • Xiao Recio-Blanco LLM ’12, “Beyond Area-Based Ocean Management” (Supervisor: Professor James Salzman)
  • Nir Shnaiderman LLM ’11, “Prosecution and Punishment of Atrocity Crimes in Perspective: A Comparative Study” (Supervisor: Professor Madeline Morris)
  • Haochen Sun, “A Theory of Ethical Copyright” (Supervisor: Professor Jedediah Purdy)
  • Cheng-Yun Tsang LLM ’11, “Market Discipline in the Post-Crisis Banking System: A Proposed Collaborative Approach and Its Theoretical Application in China” (Supervisor: Professor Lawrence Baxter)