Administration and Staff

William Alford

is the Vice Dean for the Graduate Program and International Legal Studies, Director of East Asian Legal Studies and the Henry L. Stimson Professor of Law. He is the author of To Steal a Book is an Elegant Offense: Intellectual Property Law in Chinese Civilization (Stanford University Press, 1995) and scores of articles concerning Chinese law and legal history, U.S.-East Asian relations, international law, the legal profession, and other subjects. Professor Alford earned his undergraduate degree at Amherst and holds graduate degrees from Yale (in Chinese and History), the University of Cambridge (in law), and Harvard Law School. He has served as a consultant to various entities of the U.S. government, the World Bank, the Ford Foundation, Special Olympics, corporations, foreign governments, law firms and NGOs, and been a dispute resolution panelist under the U.S.-Canada Free Trade Agreement and the North American Free Trade Agreement. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the American Academy of Foreign Law, and the Académie internationale de droit comparé; an Honorary Professor of Renmin University and Zhejiang University (PRC), and an Honorary Fellow of the American Studies Institute of the Department of Law of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences; has served on the Executive Committee of the US Committee on Legal Education Exchange with China (CLEEC), and as Director of the China Center for American Law Study (in Beijing); is on the roster of China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission arbitrators; is on a number of editorial boards; and is the recipient of numerous academic awards.

Jeanne Tai

is the Assistant Dean for the Graduate Program and International Legal Studies. Jeanne previously served as the Graduate Program's Director of Admissions and Financial Aid. A native of Hong Kong, Jeanne holds a B.A. in Anthropology and Chinese History from Barnard College in New York City and a J.D. degree from the University of Michigan Law School in Ann Arbor. Under the auspices of the U.S. Committee for Legal Education Exchange with China (CLEEC), she spent 18 months in China during 1985-86 as an Exchange Scholar, conducting research into Chinese industrial relations and labor law while also lecturing on U.S. administrative law and labor law at various universities, including Beijing University, Fudan University in Shanghai, and the Southwest University of Politics and Law in Chongqing. Jeanne's other professional experiences include practicing law for four years in the New York and London offices of Sullivan & Cromwell; pro bono and consulting work for the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights (now known as Human Rights First); and teaching modern Chinese literature in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard. Jeanne has published two anthologies of translations of contemporary Chinese fiction, and has contributed essays and translations of modern Chinese poetry and fiction to several other anthologies. She maintains an active interest in literary, cultural, and legal developments in East Asia.


As the Graduate Program’s senior administrator, Jeanne has overall responsibility for academic programs, admissions, financial aid, and policy matters. She also is a resource for students with questions about scholarly work, courses, student life and careers in the law.

Nancy Pinn

the Director of Administration and Student Affairs, joined the Graduate Program in August of 2001. Originally from New Jersey, Nancy holds a J.D. degree from Washington University School of Law in St. Louis, Missouri, an M.A. in East Asian Studies from the Washington University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and a B.A., in English, from Tufts University. Before joining the Graduate Program, Nancy worked as counsel for Alpine Electronics, Inc., at the company's corporate headquarters in Japan, as Assistant Vice President and Associate Counsel at State Street Bank and Trust Company, and as an attorney for edocs, Inc., a software company in Natick, Massachusetts. Having studied and worked in Japan, Nancy enjoys practicing her foreign language skills (particularly Japanese, French and some Spanish), and maintains a strong interest in all things international. Nancy is admitted to the practice of law in New York and New Jersey.


Nancy is responsible for administrative matters and for the academic affairs (course requirements, registration, writing requirements, exam information), overall coordination and general student life issues for the Graduate Program population.

Catherine Peshkin

is the Graduate Program’s Director of Admissions and Financial Aid. She obtained her B.A., J.D. and M.B.A. degrees from Duke University and is a member of the New York Bar. Prior to joining the Graduate Program, Catherine was a partner in the corporate restructuring group at Kirkland & Ellis LLP in New York and directed special projects at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville.  Before attending law school, Catherine spent four years as the Assistant Director of J.D. Admissions at Duke University School of Law.


Catherine’s responsibilities include directing the admissions and financial aid processes and overseeing visa documentation and student billing matters. She is also a resource for students with general questions about student life and careers in law.

Jane Fair Bestor

is the Special Assistant to the Graduate Program. She earned her first two degrees (a B.A. and an M.A. in anthropology) at McGill University before taking her Ph.D. (in anthropology) at the University of Chicago. For her M.A. thesis she carried out fieldwork in Iranian Baluchistan on the incorporation of a regional system of peasants and nomads into the Iranian state. Her Ph.D. research was an archival study of dynasty and state formation in Italy between 1250 and 1500, with a focus on the House of Este. As a Liberal Arts Fellow at Harvard Law School from 1993-1994, she studied the anthropology of law and the history of the formation of the ius commune from civil, canon, and feudal law. The results of this research have appeared in articles on succession and marital transactions in Past & Present, Comparative Studies in Society and History, the Rivista internazionale di diritto commune and elsewhere. Jane has recently completed a book manuscript on succession and state formation in Italy.


Jane runs the LL.M. Writing Workshop, advises LL.M. students on admission to the S.J.D. program, and advises S.J.D. students on their study plans, dissertations, and other writing projects. She is available to help all students in the Graduate Program with general issues of research and writing and on getting by as a graduate student in general.

Shona Simkin

is the Communications Manager for the Graduate Program and International Legal Studies. Shona has spent more than 10 years in the field of Web communications and writing, most recently at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. She holds a professional chef’s certificate from the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts and a B.A. from Swarthmore College. 

Christine L. Papandrea

is the Admissions and Financial Aid Administrator for the Graduate Program. She holds a B.A. in Rhetoric and Communication from the University of Pittsburgh and a M.A. in Communication from Johns Hopkins University where she concentrated in political communication.

Naomi Schaffer

is the Administrative Coordinator and S.J.D. Program Assistant for the Graduate Program. She grew up in Newton, Massachusetts and, after earing a B.A. in Sociology at McGill University, she returned to the area and currently lives in Cambridge. In her spare time, Naomi enjoys crossword puzzles, anything having to do with food, and exploring all the great things this area has to offer.

Last modified: January 22, 2015

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