Sunday, March 9, 2008

Common Questions about China-related Law Practice

I just received an e-mail (ABA China Committee Listserve) with a list of most-frequently-asked questions posed by students and young lawyers about China-related law practice. As a law student, with a strong interest in a China-related law practice, I thought it relevant to post, and hope that readers would provide some good responses.

Here are the questions:

(1) What are the most important skills for a US lawyer in a China practice to possess?

(2) What do your clients perceive as being the greatest advantage to having a US-trained lawyer as opposed to a Chinese lawyer for their China-related work?

(3) Specifically how does knowledge of US law add to your competitive advantage within China?

(4) Should a US lawyer entering a China practice have a specialization within the law? Or is being somewhat of a generalist acceptable (or even advantageous)?

(5) Is experience in the US necessary or desirable before working in a legal capacity in China? If so, how much experience would your recommend and why?

(6) What opportunities do you see for US-trained lawyers in China outside of the law firm setting? Outside of the law altogether?

(7) How important is knowing the Chinese language to practice in China? Is it necessary or desirable to know any dialects? If so, which ones and why? Assuming that Chinese language skills are a necessity, is comprehensive fluency necessary prior to working in a China office, or is language something that can be improved upon while working there?

(8) Would an LLM degree in Chinese Law or international law enhance a US lawyer's marketability with respect to potential employers?

(9) Would admission as a Hong Kong solicitor (lawyer) make a US lawyer more marketable if the US lawyer wants to practice in mainland China only?

(10) Do you have any other advice that you would give to a student or young lawyer interested in working in this area?

Your comments are much appreciated.


Anonymous said...

While not trying to sound cheeky, but borrowing from the real estate field, the three most important aspects to the China practice are: credibility, credibility and credibility. How does one build credibility? Language skill, technical experience and commitment to the field are key. As China becomes more sophisticated in its business practices and laws and regulations, a generalist struggles more. Having an area of specialization brings with it not only greater understanding of the area itself, but also a reasoned backdrop against which to understand other areas in which the attorney lacks more direct or thorough experience. Although one may wish to be a generalist and confidently feel he or she can attempt anything, there is no area of "anything law." Sophisticated clients don't feel comfortable engaging attorneys who specialize in "anything law." Save the anything for after you have 25 years of experience in at least one something.

Brad Luo said...

So, two words: speciality and credibility.

Thanks for the insight!