Zhang Wenjuan of Zhicheng Public Interest Lawyers Organization Speaks at USALI

On Thursday, February 20, Professor Jerome Cohen sat down with Ms. Wenjuan Zhang, who served as the Vice Director at Zhicheng Public Interest Lawyers (ZPIL), the largest Chinese public interest law organization, for nine years. She is currently pursuing an LL.M. degree at Columbia Law School (full bio below).

Throughout the course of a lively Q&A session, Ms. Zhang provided the audience with insight into her background as a child growing up in rural China, her struggle and success with entering China’s most elite academic legal institution, Peking University Law School, and her work with ZPIL, focusing on the importance and efficacy of the organization’s collaborative and solution-oriented approach to legislation reform and the representation of children, migrant workers and farmers. For more on ZPIL’s history and organizational structure, see http://www.zcpi.org/.

Ms. Wenjuan Zhang is currently a student of the Columbia Law School LLM Program.  She graduated from Peking University Law School and has been a visiting scholar at Columbia Law School and Yale Law School, as well as a PILnet fellow.

Ms. Zhang served as the Vice Director at Zhicheng Public Interest Lawyers (ZPIL), the largest Chinese public interest law organization, for 9 years. ZPIL identifies problems exposed by the legal practice, gives practical solutions, and, most importantly, engages in the problem-solving process. In addition to 50 full-time lawyers and supportive staff in Beijing, the ZPIL network includes 9,000 pro bono lawyers on children’s rights, 30 public interest law organizations on migrant workers’ rights, and 200 pro bono law firms on farmers’ rights.

She is the member of the Committee of Public Interest Law and Lawyer’s Social Responsibility of All China Lawyers’ Association and the Secretary General of Rural Areas Rule of Law Institute of Beijing Law Society. She has served as an expert for the UNICEF/NWCCW Project on Implementing National Program of Action for Child Development in China and an adviser on child welfare policies for the Ministry of Civil Affairs. She has served as an expert for the legislative process of the Child Welfare Regulation Act, Preventing and Prohibiting Domestic Violence Law, and Beijing Legal Aid Act.

Her publications include: Progress, Challenges and Suggestions on Legislative Efforts of Combating Sexual Violence against Children in Mainland China (33 Liverpool Law Review 37), “Survey Report on Best Practice of Handling Legal Disputes and Conflicts in Rural Areas” (Manual On Settling Legal Disputes and Conflicts in Rural Areas, Legal Press, 2011), and “Civil Society in China: A New Force for Equitable Development—Experiences and Thoughts of Legal Aid CSO” (co-authored with Tong Lihua, 2009). Her article “Outlook Recommendations for the Strategic Planning and Implementation of Contextualized Chinese Juvenile Justice System” won first place at the Competition on Celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the Juvenile Delinquency Prevention Research.