China’s First On-line Skills Training Courses for Criminal Defense Lawyers

May 2008

The ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) and the Criminal Law Committee of the All China Lawyers Association have launched China’s first on-line skills training courses for criminal defense lawyers.  These courses will target lawyers in western China, where barriers of distance and geography have isolated lawyers from the training resources and other professional development opportunities available in more developed areas, and hindered the development of a strong criminal defense bar. 

China’s First On-line Skills Training Courses for Criminal Defense Lawyers

From right to left: Cheng Lei, Program Officer for the ABA-ROLI China Program, and trainers Xu Xiaoping and Zhang Bin introduce the online training methodology in Lanzhou (Gansu Province).

The curriculum for this first set of pilot courses focuses on basic defense skills, including client interviewing, and the investigation and presentation of evidence.  Five cohorts of 20-25 students each, recruited from Shaanxi Province, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Yunnan Province, Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, and Gansu Province, will participate in the five-week pilot curriculum.  The emphasis is on the development of practical skills, and trainees learn through background reading materials, video demonstrations, and classroom discussions conducted in real time through a chat room function.

With the spread of internet access through even relatively remote areas of western China, there is now an opportunity to make training opportunities accessible on a scale not previously possible. As one trainee noted, “Online training doesn’t have time and space limitations.”