Professor Pitman Potter retired in June 2020 after 30 years at the Allard School of Law. He joined the faculty as an assistant professor in 1990, before being appointed to associate professor in 1992 and full professor in 1999. During his time with the law school, Professor Potter served in a number of leadership roles, including as Director of Chinese Legal Studies. He held the position of HSBC Chair in Asian Research at the Institute of Asian Research at UBC, where he was also the Director from 1999 to 2008. Professor Potter was also appointed Senior Fellow at the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada in 2009. In 2015, he was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.
During his time at Allard, Professor Potter was responsible for restarting the exchange program with Peking University and worked to build and implement an Asian law curriculum at the law school. He also chaired the Dalai Lama’s 2004 visit to UBC and led two successive multi-year, multi-million-dollar Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Major Collaborative Research Initiatives.
Professor Potter received a BA in Chinese Studies (History) from George Washington University in 1978. He went on to obtain an MA in Political Science (1980), a JD (1985), and a PhD (with distinction) in Political Science (1986) at the University of Washington. During the mid-1980s and early 1990s, he worked as an associate with LeSourd and Patten in Seattle, and later with Graham & James in San Francisco and Beijing. In 2008, Professor Potter completed an MDiv at the Vancouver School of Theology. He has been admitted to the bar in British Columbia, Washington and California.
As an expert in Chinese law, Professor Potter’s research and practice focused on business law and human rights matters regarding the People’s Republic of China and Taiwan. This includes legal and policy research into the areas of foreign trade and investment, intellectual property, dispute resolution, property law, contracts, and business regulation involving China. His significant contributions to this field have led to legal reform in the areas of human rights and trade policy. Professor Potter had been recognized as an accomplished researcher through appointment as a Kenneth Robinson Fellow at Hong Kong University (2003) and by receiving various awards such as the Distinguished Alumni Scholar Award from George Washington University (2003), the UBC Distinguished University Scholar Award (2003), and a Killam Research Prize. Furthermore, in 2008, he was the recipient of the Alumni Award for Research awarded by Allard Law Alumni Association. This award is given to an individual, whom may not be an alumna/alumnus of the law school, but has advanced the Allard School of Law's reputation as a leading research institution through their research achievements.
Additionally, Professor Potter worked as a Chinese business law consultant for Borden Ladner Gervais LLP from 1995 to 2017. As a Chartered Arbitrator, Professor Potter also practiced arbitration in the context of international trade involving China. Professor Potter has extensive published works, including the books The Legal System of the People’s Republic of China (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2013) and Assessing Treaty Performance in China: Trade and Human Rights (Vancouver and Toronto: UBC Press, 2014).