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Benjamin Liebman

Benjamin L. Liebman, a leading expert on China’s legal system, is the Robert L. Lieff Professor of Law at Columbia Law School and director of the Center for Chinese Legal Studies.

His specialties are China and international law, Chinese courts, Chinese tort law, Chinese criminal procedure, and the roles of popular opinion and populism in the Asian nation’s legal system.

Under his leadership, the highly regarded Center for Chinese Legal Studies offers interdisciplinary studies, research, and hands-on experience in China. 

Along with a team of students from Columbia Law, he is conducting an ongoing research project that offers an unprecedented look into China’s rapidly changing judicial systems by examining Chinese court decisions. Along with students from the Columbia Department of Computer Science, they have constructed a database of more than 1 million public documents posted online by courts in Henan, a central Chinese province that is home to nearly 100 million people. As a recipient of the Parker School of Foreign and Comparative Law Global Innovation Award, which supports innovative research and teaching on foreign, international, or transnational legal issues, Liebman will expand his team’s inquiry to millions of additional opinions.

Liebman is an editor of Regulating the Visible Hand: The Institutional Implications of Chinese State Capitalism, which examines the domestic and global impact of state-owned enterprises on regulation and policy.

There is value in increased transparency in the Chinese system, but there is also danger in mistaking such steps with fundamental change in how the system functions. Transparency may be a virtue, but it is also a tool of control.