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Dr Zhiyu Li

Assistant Professor in Law and Policy

Assistant Professor in Law and Policy in the Durham Law School
Fellow in the Durham Research Methods Centre


Zhiyu Li joined Durham Law School as an Assistant Professor in 2018. She holds undergraduate degrees in law and economics from the East China University of Political Science and Law and a doctorate in jurisprudential science from the University of California, Berkeley.

Zhiyu’s teaching and research interests centre on public law and comparative law. She writes at the intersection of law and policy, with a particular emphasis on the role of the courts in authoritarian and democratic states. Her research employs both qualitative methods such as doctrinal analysis, case studies and interviews, and quantitative methods, including traditional surveys, survey experiments and machine learning techniques. Her research findings have been disseminated in internationally respected outlets such as the Columbia Journal of Asian Law, the Cornell International Law Journal and the Harvard International Law Journal and have been cited in the Oxford Handbook of Comparative Judicial Behaviour and the Oxford Handbook of Comparative Administrative Law. She has also delivered talks at various fora within and outside the United Kingdom such as the Annual Conference of the Society of Legal Scholars and the Stanford International Junior Faculty Forum.

Prior to joining the law faculty, she was a Hauser Post-Doctoral Global Fellow at New York University School of Law on a merit-based fellowship stipend. At Durham, Zhiyu participates in the Research Methods Centre and Research Project Leadership Programme. She has held visiting positions at the University of Michigan, the University of Wisconsin, and the National University of Singapore.

Research interests

  • Chinese Law and Society
  • Constitutional Law
  • Judicial Politics
  • Law and Technology
  • Administrative Law

Esteem Indicators

  • 2023: Quoted in Cointelegraph: see All Rise for the Robot Judge: AI and Blockchain Could Transform the Courtroom (13 March 2023),
  • 2023: Quoted in Deutsche Welle: see How China's AI is Automating the Legal System (20 January 2023),


Supervision students