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  • Public defense attorney to teach law in China

    Sometimes a casual meeting with an old friend can lead to potentially life-changing events. 

    That’s what happened to Clay Kamm, an attorney with the Pima County Public Defender’s Office. 
    Clay Kamm
    Not long ago, Kamm was at an alumni function at the University of Arizona Rogers College of Law when he saw one of his former professors.   

    “In passing, he mentioned that we have a micro-campus in China,” Kamm said. 

    The professor explained UA Law had a partnership with the university and was seeking experienced attorneys to teach an undergraduate class in civil and criminal procedure. Kamm had taught a class in criminal procedure at UA before and the idea of teaching the course in China intrigued him. 

    Thinking more about it, Kamm decided to take the leap and spend three months teaching the accelerated course starting in September at Ocean University in Qingdao, China, where Chinese students can earn a bachelor’s of art in law. The leap is made even greater by the fact Kamm is married and has three school-aged kids. 

    “They’re thrilled,” he said. In fact, the kids have already started research on the local culinary scene and are compiling lists of the wild Chinese sweets they plan to eat. 

    The County has been supportive, too, allowing Kamm to take three-months unpaid leave to teach the course. 

    “It’s a fantastic opportunity for him and his family,” said Public Defender Joel Feinman. “Clay is an accomplished attorney and a great supervisor in our office, and I have no doubt his students will learn a tremendous amount from him about our legal system.”

    Kamm said he sees this opportunity not only as good for him personally, but a chance for the County and Public Defender’s Office to strengthen ties with UA Law. 

    “Whenever the Public Defender partners with the University there’s a benefit,” he said. “We like having UA attorneys work with us.” 

    In addition, there’s an opportunity to learn more about the subject matter – civil and criminal procedure – through teaching the course and interacting with students. Kamm anticipates he will come away from the experience with a much broader understanding on legal procedures after teaching to students who have a completely different perspective on American law. 

    “Having a discussion about due process with students from a different culture will help me better understand American due process,” Kamm said. 

    Outside of work, Kamm said he looks forward to experiencing life in a new city and culture he’s never experienced before. 

    “I think the rest of the days (when not at work) we’ll just try to enjoy Chinese culture,” he said. “We’ll really be enmeshed in the local culture.” 

    Qingdao is a metro area of more than 9 million residents on China’s Yellow Sea coast. The city is noted for a mix of modern, traditional Chinese and German architecture – a remnant of the early 20th century German colonization of the area. 

    Another vestige of the brief German era is the Tsingtao Brewery, China’s most popular beer export. 

    UA Qingdao at Ocean University of China is one of 10 micro-campuses the university operates in cooperation with host universities around the world. 
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