William P. Alford is a scholar of Chinese law and legal history. His books include To Steal a Book is an Elegant Offense: Intellectual Property Law in Chinese Civilization (Stanford University Press 1995), Raising the Bar: The Emerging Legal Profession in East Asia (Harvard East Asian Legal Studies 2007), Falu Baozhang Jizhi Yanjiu (A Study of Legal Mechanisms for the Protection of Persons with Disabilities) (in Chinese) (Huaxia Press 2008, with Wang Liming and Ma Yu’er), Prospects for the Professions in China (Routledge 2011, with William Kirby and Kenneth Winston), and Taiwan and International Human Rights: A Story of Transformation (Springer 2019, with Jerome Cohen and Lo Chang-fa), which was awarded the American Society of International Law 2020 Certificate of Merit in a Specialized Area of International Law.
Professor Alford is the founding Chair of the Harvard Law School Project on Disability which provides pro bono services on issues of disability in China, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Vietnam and several other nations. He is Lead Director and Chair of the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors of Special Olympics International (which serves individuals with intellectual disabilities in more than 170 jurisdictions around the world). In 2008, Special Olympics honored him for his work for persons with intellectual disabilities in China. Professor Alford is also the Senior Advisor for Graduate and International Legal Studies at HLS.
Professor Alford was awarded an honorary doctorate in law by the University of Geneva in 2010 and has been an honorary professor or fellow at Renmin University of China, Zhejiang University, the National College of Administration, and the Institute of Law of the Chinese Academy of Social Science. Among other honors are the inaugural O’Melveny & Myers Centennial Award, the Kluwer China Prize, the Qatar Pearls of Praise Award, an Abe (Japan) Fellowship, and the Harvard Law School Alumni Association Award. In 2008, he was a finalist for Harvard Law School’s Sacks-Freund Teaching Award.
Professor Alford has delivered endowed lectureships at leading universities around the world and serves on university advisory boards and the editorial boards of learned journals in several jurisdictions. A member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the National Committee on US-China relations, Professor Alford has been a dispute resolution panelist under the U.S.-Canada Free Trade Agreement and the North American Free Trade Agreement. He has served as a consultant or advisor to multilateral organizations, various offices of the United States government, members of Congress, foreign governments, foundations, companies and not-for-profit organizations.
Professor Alford is a graduate of Amherst College (B.A.), the University of Cambridge (LL.B.), Yale University (graduate degrees in History and in East Asian Studies) and Harvard Law School (J.D.).
- J.D. Harvard Law School, 1977
- M.A. Chinese History Yale University, 1975
- M.A. Chinese Studies Yale University, 1974
- LL.B. St. John's College, Cambridge University, 1972
- B.A. American Studies Amherst College, 1970
FavoriteTaiwan and International Human Rights (Jerome A. Cohen, William P. Alford & Chang-fa Lo eds., 2019).
FavoriteProspects for the Professions in China (William P. Alford, Kenneth Winston & William C. Kirby eds., Routledge 2010).
- William P. Alford, Matthew S. Smith & Michael Ashley Stein, The Right to Political Participation of Persons with Intellectual Disabilities (Special Olympics Glob. Ctr. for Inclusion Education, Pol'y Brief 107, 2022).
- William P. Alford & Xingzhong Yu, Pound for Pound? Roscoe Pound's Adventures in China and Questions They Pose for Scholars of Contemporary China, 18 U. Pa. Asian L. Rev. 1 (2022).
- William P. Alford, The Discordant Singer: How Peter Singer’s Treatment of Global Poverty and Disability Is Inconsistent and Why It Matters, 1 Am. J. L. & Equal. 194 (2021).