CrimSL welcomes Professor Dongyan Lao of Tsinghua University School of Law as Visiting Professor

September 21, 2023 by Patricia Doherty

A warm CrimSL welcome to Professor Dongyan Lao from Tsinghua University School of Law!

Professor Lao joins us as a Visiting Professor until August 2024. Her faculty contact is Professor Markus Dubber, cross-appointed with the Faculty of Law.

The CrimSL community is invited to say hello to Professor Dongyan Lao at the Centre. Her office is CG 215.

Lao specializes in Chinese criminal law and comparative criminal law. She has published four books and more than 90 academic essays. Many of her essays have been accepted and published in the most academically influential Chinese law journals. She has had 19 essays published in the most authoritative four law journals in China: China Legal Science, Chinese Journal of Law, Social Sciences in China and Peking University Law Journal

Her studies on the theme of criminal law in risk society, with very high citations, have gained wide recognition in the academic circle of law science, and she is regarded as the most representative scholar in this field. The other theme is concerned with the theory of functionalism, and her studies in this aspect focus on how to integrate the consideration of general prevention in the sense of criminal policy into statutory construction of criminal law norms and how to reconstruction of the whole system of dogmatic theory in criminal law. These studies also have important influences beyond the academic circle of criminal law in China as well as in judicial practice. 

Lao attended the drafting jobs of quite a few judicial interpretations issued by the Supreme People’s Court and the Supreme People’s Procuratorate, and took a temporary post as Vice Director in a branch for one year in the Supreme People’s Procuratorate from July 2020 to June 2021. She also served as Vice President in the Haidian District Court in Beijing form October 2017 to September 2018. Since 2019, she has paid much attention to the social problems concerned with legal issues in China, including facial recognition, the lawfulness of Covid-19 prevention measures from some local governments, the recent draft of Public Security Administrative Punishment Law published by the National People’s Congress, and so on, and made public comments and criticism on them, thus gaining wide attention as public intellectual. 

Time for a change

When asked why she decided to join us here at CrimSL, Lao replied, "I had three basic reasons to come to the centre." First, she said, was her need for a change to rejuvenate her primary identity as a scholar in criminal law theories.

I'd been paying a lot of attention to the social problems concerned with legal issues and rule of law in China, and I'd made many public comments and criticisms. I wanted to shift my focus back to studies in criminal law theories.

Second, she wanted to be free to look at the field of criminal law from a fresh perspective.

The style of research in the field of criminal law in China is mainly under the influence of the German law tradition, which focuses on the construction of dogmatic techniques or doctrinal theories inside the legal system. I am very interested in social theory, and hope to understand it better using research methods from outside the legal system. I think that this trans-disciplinary exchange is an opportunity to deepen my knowledge of research methods, and I hope it will provide me with new insights into criminal law.

Her third reason for deciding to visit CrimSL was to learn more about criminology so that she would be more qualified when the Law School of Tsinghua University called on her to teach a criminology course.

Welcome, Dongyan!