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Daniel Friedman

Visiting Assistant Professor



Daniel Friedman is a Visiting Assistant Professor at Villanova School of Law. He holds a BA in literature and languages from UT Austin, a JD from Yale, an MA in Sinology from SOAS (University of London), and an MA in History from UC Berkeley, where he is also completing a History PhD. His scholarship has primarily focused on economics, law, and political legitimacy in early imperial and medieval China. His MA thesis concerned the legal regulation and physical production of privately produced coins in the Western Han dynasty (3rd-1st centuries BCE). His current research is a study of the bureaucracy, laws, and legal theories of the medieval Northern Wei dynasty (4th-6th centuries CE), arguing that this ethnically Turkic regime left far greater impacts on Chinese law than is commonly acknowledged in a scholarship that often paints Chinese legal history as an unbroken tradition carried on by ethnically Han people. The results of this kind of study matter today, both for China and America, whose governments frequently rely on flawed understandings of ancient ethnic and legal history in promulgating major policies. China’s mass imprisonment and Sinicization campaign targeting at up to a million Uighurs in Xinjiang is one recent, dramatic example.

Daniel’s research also explores the connections between these periods and historical and contemporary American law, particularly criminal law. From the 16th century on, Western visitors to China commented extensively on the country’s law and legal tradition, reporting their findings to an elite and then a broader public eager for insights into this foreign society and its rulers. While many of those impressions were initially positive, reports soured as European Enlightenment thinkers sought to define themselves against what they now saw as the barbarous and despotic Orient. American attitudes towards Chinese law from the 18th through at least the 20th century reflected this bias, and American criminal law continues to bear some of its marks.


  • Legal Intern, Texas Defender Service (Summer 2013). Prepared memos on challenging death penalty convictions based on new scientific evidence. Reviewed many hours of recordings of police interrogations and legislative history. Visited clients on Death Row. 
  • Legal Intern, Southern Center for Human Rights (Summer 2012). Prepared memos and motions on the right of confrontation, the admissibility of eyewitness identification expert testimony, and the failure of Alabama’s capital sentencing scheme to adequately narrow the class of death-eligible offenders. Observed numerous arraignments and other criminal court proceedings around the state, meeting with DAs, PDs, and judges. Represented a client before the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles. 
  • Law Student Clinics:  Landlord/Tenant; Capital Punishment; Detention and Human Rights; Criminal Justice Clinic. (Housing Court motion practice and oral argument; visits to clients in supermax prison; representation of felony defendants.)
Headshot of Visiting Assistant Professor Daniel Friedman

Office: Rm 240, John F. Scarpa Hall

Phone: 610-519-5622


Courses and Seminars


  • Yale University, JD
  • SOAS (University of London), MA (Sinology)
  • University of Texas at Austin, BA (Literature and Languages)