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Hiring In China’s Legal Industry

Posted in Legal News

“The seeds of our destiny are nurtured by the roots of our past.”
Master Po (Kung Fu, Episode 7)
I constantly receive emails and phone calls from college students, law students, and young lawyers seeking information on how to advance their China legal careers. Nearly all of them ask some variant of “what’s the most important thing for me to do ….” My answers usually are as follows:
College Students: Learn to read Chinese. This will give you a huge edge in seeking your first legal (or non legal) position. Have spent at least a year overseas.
Law Students: Learn to read Chinese and/or graduate in the top 10% of your class at a good law school. This will give you a huge edge over your job seeking competition. You should have spent at least a year overseas, preferably in China.
Young Lawyers outside China: Work on as many China legal matters as possible. Build your own network. Learn to read Chinese. You should have spent at least a year overseas, preferably in China. Love your work.
Young Lawyers in China at Chinese firms: Work on as many projects for foreign companies as possible. Build your own network. Learn to read Chinese. Love your work.
Young Lawyers in China at foreign firms. Build your own network. Learn to read Chinese. Love your work.
Last week, a reader emailed me with a podcast interview with Al Clark at the Davis Wright Tremaine law firm here in Seattle, telling me “it’s good, you should listen to it.” I tried, but could not get the audio to work on my laptop ( a fairly common occurrence with podcasts for me). According to the written summary, the interview will answer questions on the following:
1. The hiring environment for young legal professionals in China.
2. The difficulty in hiring “the best and the brightest.”
3. Wage trending and which “backgrounds demand different salary levels.”
4. The challenges of talent retention and turnover.
5. Specific figures for salary increase percentages.
6. “Factors contributing to wage inflation based on ideal candidate credentials of the Chinese legal candidates.”
7. The “process steps most common in candidate searches, screening, and hiring.”
8. Who to “maintain good contacts with on an ongoing basis.”
9. The need for background checks
10. Second and third tier cities.
11. The difficulty in sourcing.
12. Cultivating contacts with head-hunting firms.
I have known and thought highly of Al Clark for years and, based on that (along with the reader recommendation), I am just going to assume this is a good/helpful interview. Please let me know what you think.
For more on practicing law in China, check out the following:
– CLB, “So You Want To Practice China Law?
– Transnational Law Blog, “The Allure of Working in China
– Asia Business Intelligence, “How Do I Get to China?
– China Hearsays’ just out post, “So You Want to Be a China Lawyer?

  • Law Office of Todd L. Platek

    All excellent advice. In addition, for that “at least one year” in China (frankly, I think you need a minimum of 2-3 years), go native as much as possible. Spend as much of 24 hours/day with natives; speak and read Chinese as often as possible, and don’t give in to the urge to revert to English or other languages unnecessarily. Sure, you may miss it, but your home country will be there when you need to return; just let it go while you’re in China. Be polite and act with some humility, because in China, you represent your family/neighborhood/country in the eyes of the natives. Try seeing the world through Chinese eyes. You can adjust your eyes later, but you’ll have the advantage of being sensitive to how Chinese see their lives and your world. This is valuable for practicing law, building credibility with clients of all stripes (as well as opponents and judges), and enriching the quality of your own life. Just do it!

  • http://www.chinalawblog.com China Law Blog

    Todd L. Platek,
    I agree with you on all counts. I would also add that one should “be polite and act with humility” not so much because of the fact that one represents others, but because one represents oneself and the best way to really get to know people (not just in China) is to be polite and act with humility.

  • Law Office of Todd L. Platek

    Jiu shi ma!!!

  • http://huoleifeng.blogspot.com b. cheng

    okay, perhaps I’ll be accused of sucking up, but whenever I get these questions, I also throw in that reading CLB regularly is also important in keeping current on what’s happening in the Chinese legal field.

  • http://www.chinalawblog.com China Law Blog

    b.cheng,
    And explain to me again why sucking up is a bad thing?

  • Terry

    a little pai ma pi goes a long ways…
    thanks for the chuckle guys…
    Your world is so different than mine! I am always getting similar questions from young chinese lawyers who hopefully read chinese well and their #1 problem is worries about losing their english skills in a chinese law firm, the difficulty of finding opportunity with international law firms and the glass ceilings there and weighing the value of continued overseas legal education… LLM’s etc.
    I recruit lots of bi-lingual young lawyers for one particular foreign law practice in china.

  • Nick Vogel

    as one of the advice-seekers, thank you very much for the post and links