William P. Alford is the Vice Dean for the Graduate Program and International Legal Studies and the Jerome A. and Joan L. Cohen Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. He is a scholar of Chinese law and legal history. He 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 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.
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), 残疾人法律保障机制研究 (A Study of Legal Mechanisms to Protect Persons with Disabilities) (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 2018, with Jerome Cohen and Lo Chang-fa).
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.).