At the end of the 19th century, Mr. Sheng Xuanhuai and a group of men of foresight founded the Nanyang Public School in Shanghai—the predecessor of Shanghai Jiao Tong University-- in the belief that "the top priority for strengthening the nation is to cultivate talents, and to cultivate talents, we must first run good schools". On December 14, 1920, the school was renamed as the Jiao Tong University.
Law education at the university can be traced back to the special political curriculum offered in the period of the Nanyang Public School. Presided over by Mr. Cai Yuanpei, the curriculum was initiated in 1901, and included courses on constitutions, international public law and international treaties. Eminent alumni such as Xu Mo, Li Shutong (Master Hong Yi) and Wang Chonghui were from this class. Xu Mo was the first Chinese judge in the UN International Court of Justice, Li Shutong was the earliest scholar translating and introducing juristic works from the West, and Wang Chonghui was the first Foreign Minister of the Government of the Republic of China, who signed the UN Charter as the delegate of the Chinese Government and was twice appointed judge in the UN International Court of Justice.
The history of the Law School of Shanghai Jiao Tong University can be traced back to the Teaching and Research Department of Law established in 1986. After six years' exploration, the undergraduate program in law was formally established in 1992. The first group of undergraduates in law was admitted in 1993, thus starting the modern history of professional education in law in the university. In 1996, the Law Department was established, which acquired the right to confer master's degrees in law in 1998. On June 8, 2002, the Law School was established, and RMB 25 million yuan was earmarked to carry out the first phase of construction. The Law School thus entered into a period of rapid development. While sticking to its core mission of educating law undergraduates, the School obtained the right to confer master's degrees in 8 grade-2 disciplines and grade-1 disciplines in law, the right to confer the Juris in law specialty, as well as the right to confer the doctoral degree in constitutional law and administrative law.
On July 31, 2007, the Leo KoGuan Foundation of the United States generously donated USD 30 million to the Law School to construct a law building on the Xuhui campus of the university, engage famous professors in law, build an academic brand and cultivate talents for governing the country and teaching the next generation of law majors. On September 20, 2008, the Law School of Shanghai Jiao Tong University was renamed the "Leo KoGuan School of Law of Shanghai Jiao Tong University" in order to commemorate the magnanimous act of the Leo KoGuan Foundation.