Yet another fascinating post up at the China Lawyer Blog, this one entitled, “Unannounced Visit by Zhong Lun Managing Partner to ChinaLawyerBlog!!!” This is the blog of the “anonymous” American lawyer who has a very strong beef with the Zhong Lun Chinese law firm and is, shall we say, rather indelicate about putting it all out there for the world to see. I put “anonymous” in quotes because the blog now contains the following biography of its writer, with a full name e-mail, that makes pretty clear who is behind it:

I am a 38 year old US attorney, graduated in 1997 from the Univ of Virginia, and have lived in China for more than two years. I’ve worked here for two PRC law firms. Both are incredibly profitable, but both do things that would be illegal in the USA, much of which violates the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). So, I kept a daily diary at both firms, and my blog is where I’m publishing it. I hope you enjoy it and learn something from it. If you are thinking about doing business with Zhong Lun, I advise that you reconsider since you may otherwise be subjecting your company to violations of the FCPA. Feel free to email me: jeffbrauer@gmail.com

This post is on how Zhong Lun and the China Lawyer Blogger are alleging in the midst of a pending deal in which the China Lawyer Blog will be shutting down:
The post starts out rather unfairly with the following:

Today, without warning, the managing partner of Zhong Lun, Zhang Xuebing, visited my Beijing office and asked (demanded/threatened is more accurate) that I close down this blog immediately. He said he has paid people to track my movements and find out where I work and live. He said that he believes the blog entries are not true, and promised to enforce this with a threat or the equivalent.

I consider this paragraph unfair because it seems to want to imply threats of violence, when the reality may very well be quite different. It starts out saying the managing partner showed up “without warning” as though there is something nefarious in that, when there is not. The managing partner probably showed up without advance notice to the blogger (notice how just changing “without warning” to “without advance notice” can change everything) because he feared the blogger would intentionally not be there otherwise. Then the post says that the managing partner “threatened” the blogger and promised to “enforce this” with “a threat or the equivalent.” This on top of letting the blogger know that they are “tracking” his “movements.” Again, without more facts, this is unfair. The threat may very well have been just a threat to sue, which is a perfectly normal business tactic in this situation. They may very well be tracking his movements so they can know where to serve him with process in a lawsuit and how to collect from him once they prevail. No big deal, but, by leaving all of this open/vague, the blog unfairly implies violence.
The blogger then tells us about his alleged new deal with Zhong Lun, which is essentially that the blogger get paid what he claims to be owed and, in return, he shuts down his blog:

Although I have endeavored to make sure that everything in these blog entries is true and substantiated with facts, I have agreed to remove the blog pending his offer to pay me for work I did, per my contract with Zhong Lun, since I started this blog in part because the firm didn’t pay me for work I did there, although I think that goal has now expanded to talk about corruption in China, especially as it affects foreigners living here.

How much is at stake here? I am very curious.
The blogger then concludes his post with the text of an e-mail he allegedly wrote to Zhong Lun’s managing partner following this visit:

Following your unannounced visit today to my office, after you paid
people to track my whereabouts, I have removed the blog
chinalawyerblog.com, pending your offer to pay me what Zhong Lun owes
me per its contract with me. I am now leaving for the USA, where I
will reside for the next few months. I hereby offer you a reply
warning and threat: Zhong Lun will pay me what it owes me within seven
days of this email, and I don’t ask you for one penny more than what
is owed, or this blog, and perhaps another, will be up and running-
more popular than ever-at that time.
I want to re-emphasize that your threats, in person and writing, has
been reported to many levels of the US government, including local
police, and other people with influence.
I await your reply.
Regards,
Jeff

It appears the deadline is July 17.
Does ChinaLawyer’s publishing of this new post violate its alleged new deal with the firm?
I will be reporting back.
Comments, please.

  • What happened to me today, as I reported it on chinalawyerblog, was like a scene from The Godfather, complete with the black limo that rolled up at the end of the scene to pick up Mr. Zhang (the firm’s managing partner). I’m proud to be American at times like this. We can say and and write pretty much what we want, as long as it is honest, and here it seems the truth is what scares Zhong Lun the most.

  • Law Office of Todd L. Platek

    Entertaining to watch from the sidelines. Wouldn’t want to be in the ring, unless getting paid as counsel.

  • David Yu

    I seems odd that someone who allegedly has reported to the US authorities and people “with influence” would find it necessary to author such a blog and engage in a PR war. I’d challenge Mr. Jeff Brauer to name these “people with influence,” if he really believes he was wronged.

  • Law Office of Todd L. Platek

    Chris D-E’s comments are solidly placed in this matter, and in the context of blogging ethics. Airing one’s dirty laundry is not the way to resolve factual/legal issues; it only fouls the air. It becomes more odious to see a lawyer, allegedly trained in the ways and means of the law, regardless of which legal system, abandoning his potential access to it in exchange for this blogging approach. The argument of “there but for the grace of God go I” will someday also have relevance to blogger Jeff.

  • nanheyangrouchuan

    While Jeff is in the US, after a couple of phone calls by the managing partner Jeff may find it hard to get through the visa checkpoint when he returns.

  • Speaking in general…
    Either one’s employer is doing something illegal or it isn’t. If it isn’t doing something illegal, then one is opening oneself to all sorts of charges of libel, breaking attorney-client privilege, etc. etc. etc.
    If one’s employer *is* doing something illegal, by saying that he has evidence of illegality but demanding money in exchange for not posting information, one is setting oneself for all sorts of civil and criminal charges. Example: employer goes down in three months, client loses lots of money, client can then sue the poster for sitting on evidence that would have let them leave earlier.
    Also, FCPA impacts only US persons and companies that issue securities in the United States and there are huge number of loopholes. I don’t see the applicablity to this situation.
    Finally, it’s simply not the case that you can post anything you want even if true. Truth will protect you against libel/slander, but it won’t protect you against invasion of privacy, breaching contractual obligations, revealing trade secrets, or breaking attorney-client privilege.

  • Alex

    There must be a movie / book deal in this somewhere..Jet Li could play the guy from Zhong Lun, not sure who could play Jeff……
    Very very enjoyable, thank you. I await July 17 with baited breath

  • Law Office of Todd L. Platek

    Alex: If we can seed the script with the adequate amount of sex and daredevil antics, then I’ll apply as Jeff. Hopping over roofs, beds, jumping balconies, sure, do regularly. Will the thinning gray hair matter? I mean, 54, 38, no difference here, right? My Mandarin’s fluent and no one ‘ll be the wiser, eh mate?

  • Stephen

    This guy is not someone I would ever hire as a lawyer. He comes off as a clown. When he is not acting self-satisfied, he is wallowing in bitterness. And as for writing all this stuff about his former employer on a blog: that should put anyone off ever hiring the guy. Imagine he’s your lawyer, and then you fire him (probably for incompetence). All your private affairs may end up on a blog.
    He is also a liar: his claims that 16,000 people are reading his blog every day are outrageous.

  • Chris D-E —
    Certainly not how I would have handled it and like you, my sympathies tend to lie with Zhong Lun.

  • Jeff —
    I too am proud to be an American, but I have trouble seeing why you feel this way at a time like this. What’s the link?

  • Jeff

    Regardless of whether I have support on how I’ve proceeded with this (courts here don’t function, and I couldn’t get a law firm to sue a large adversary), I do want to express my gratitude to everyone for commenting on this issue because I am dealing with a firm that acts outside the law, not unlike the mafia, and there is safety in numbers. I pity the countless Chinese who have a similar problem with thug-like employers, like the people I’m dealing with, and are helpless to stand up for what they deserve.

  • Alex

    Re Zhang Xuebin:
    (From Zhong Lun website)
    Social Activity
    Member of China National Youth Union
    Member of Youth Federation of the Central Government Departments
    Director of China National Bar Association
    Vice Director of Civil Committee of National Bar Association
    Executive Director of Beijing Bar Association
    Director of Practice Guiding Committee of Beijing Bar Association
    Arbitrator of China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission
    Guest Professor of Peking University
    Guest Professor of China University of Politics and Law
    Wow! …forget Jet Li playing this guy…More Li Xiao Long!

  • Jeff,
    I have only one advice for you: “Swallow your bitterness or it will kill you!”. Sh.t happens! I don’t know who is right or wrong on your story with Zhonglun. I have personnally used this lawfirm for some legal matters, and I had no problem with them. The way you publicly deal with them on your blog or on your comments on this blog makes you look like the bad guy. If you don’t trust the Chinese system at least give it a chance. It has improved: I won a personal legal battle worth 250,000 Euros against a powerful Chinese businessman in Beijing. So, even if things are still not perfect, they are better. I am a lawyer too but I will never deal like you are doing because it will backfire ans make you look bad for potential employers. Have a thoughton it!

  • Jeff,
    The trouble is that by offering not to release your diary in exchange for money, you’ve just blown your credibility as a crusader for justice. Once you’ve decided to be an outlaw (and there are some times when that is the right thing to do) there is no going back.
    Also there is the tricky issue about keeping secrets. If your natural instinct is to tell all about your employer, then how to people who need help feel comfortable about telling you their secrets? Everyone has something to hide and to be ashamed of, and the whole point of attorney-client privilege is to recognize that fact. People make mistakes. People do and say stupid things.
    There is a balance here. I don’t know, maybe your employer has done something so horrible that the public needs to know, but in that case, what is the point in trying to get money from them? If you are in a situation where you think that it is ethical and moral to surpress knowledge of what they did in exchange for money, then what they did can’t possibly be that bad, can it?
    (Also, FYI, it’s very difficult to sue a large employer anywhere, and most employment lawsuits in the US are settled out of court.)

  • Wow. I thought lawyers were supposed to avoid all this melodramatic stuff, with the only exception being John Grisham novels. Scenes straight out of the Godfather, indeed.

  • Is defamation law in China criminal? (It is in Korea, as I explain on Korea Law Blog.) Given that they are the world’s most enthusiastic executioners, why flirt with criminal defamation?

  • Jeremy

    Now that’s a miserable story.
    Upon starting his blog Jeff stated that he was writing for both “admirable” and “less-admirable reasons”, but above all for giving to those who seek a position within a Chinese firm an insight of how things actually work there. This was very presomptuous, but at least one could have seen it as a courageous move, even though motivated by vengeful reasons.
    Now Jeff tells us that he plans to make a deal with his former employers and to shut his blog down if he gets paid what he asks for… So basically he explains us that this was all about money – and not much money, if I am to believe his comments about his salary – and that as soon as he gets paid he will readily forget his “admirable reasons” and let all the “foreign law students” down. How elegant.

  • Law Office of Todd L. Platek

    Alex,
    I’m not put off in the least. When are casting tryouts? Todd

  • – I

    I have some sympathy for jeff: He has been screwed over trying to get a foot on the ladder. Nope, its not black and white, and these things never are: but the substance of his accusations are borne out in the reality that most of us experience in China. Thats why I left. Jeff, I think you should do the same.
    As for all those who have chimed in in Zhong luns defence: well, its not exactly suprising considering that you are all doing exceptionally well for yourselves in China, and obviously have a vested interest in upholding the status quo. Knowing the way things work in China at the moment, jeff is probably in a great deal of danger: and indeed all this controversy will be playing an important part of his negotiations with his former employer.
    Good luck, Jeff, and good luck finding someone who will employ you after this mess is finally cleared up.

  • JMS

    A black limo picking up Mr. Zhang is hardly mafia like in China — it may appear as so for Americans who know nothing about China, but for those of us who have worked there, we all know that it is common place for upper management people to have his own company car (black audi mostly) and his own chauffeur.
    Reporting Zhonglun’s threats to many levels of the US government, including local police, and other people with influence? It is very unlikely that the US govt have jurisdiction over this case and how does the US police have anything to do with it. This sounds like someone with paranoid disorder.
    At this point, I feel sorry for Mr. Brauer. He needs help.

  • zuraffo

    I would really love to see Jeff’s story get a Hollywood treatment. It somehow seemed ironically justified.

  • Law Office of Todd L. Platek

    John Jay: Is our lawyerly suggestion that Jeff look to the legal system to resolve a legal dispute really a symptom of our self-interest?
    Before approaching the legal system, there are other sorts of potentially useful forms of dispute resolution including face-to-face negotiations, and third-party-assisted mediation, etc. Taking one’s problem to the “people” is unnecessary in the context of Jeff’s dispute. Why not just put ads into Chinese newspapers bad-mouthing his former employer, or would this seem more offensive than the blog? Or, call a press conference to announce the problem, and his intention to continue his campaign in the court of public opinion? To my simplistic thinking, there is something dignified and noble about using the legal system to enforce one’s rights, especially when it’s a matter of alleged back-pay.

  • Chris D-E (ii) —
    Eric’s site looks very promising and I certainly like her code of ethics. I believe I have abided by all of the provisions in it and will continue striving to do so, with one exception. I am not going to give up a misleading headline that draws readers in and then immediately makes clear, “not really.”

  • Todd Platek —
    Yes.

  • David Yu —
    And what would US “persons of influence” do about this anyway?

  • Chris D-E —
    I agree with you that Jeff’s invocation of American freedoms at a time like this comes across very badly, yes. But I have heard enough silly invocations of national supremecy like this from enough Europeans to know that such things are not just confined to Americans.

  • Todd Platek —
    I agree with you that Jeff’s blogging on this is unseemly, made even more so by the fact he is a lawyer. It is just not fair for him to air laundry in this manner.

  • nh —
    My sense is Jeff will not be returning soon to China in any event.

  • TwoFish —
    Very good points, but I believe the FCPA applies to more than just US companies that issue securities.

  • Alex —
    Can I have a cameo?

  • Todd Platek —
    Re your claimed ability to look 38 and jump buildings, my advice is to beware of misrepresentation laws.

  • Stephen —
    I certainly would not want him in my firm. No way.
    I too was shocked about his claimed daily readership of 16,000. This blog is ranked in the top 6,500 of Technorati (out of 55 million blogs), we have been around now for a year and a half, we are on probably hundreds of blogrolls, we have been cited by Business Week, NY Times, WSJ, National Law Journal, Corporate Counsel Magazine, ABA Journal, and on and on and on, and we are not even close to having 10,000 readers a day.
    Jeff’s Blog appears to be around a month old and is ranked 858,958 on Technorati. Its lack of posts probably means it draws far fewer google/yahoo searchers as well.
    So yes, very good point about the 16,000 readers a day. Jeff, where are you getting that number?

  • Jeff —
    Every time you write in you sound less and less like a lawyer. My wife is a school psychologist so I as a mere lawyer hesitate to give out this kind of advice, but it really feels to me that you need to put all of this behind you and just move on.

  • Chris D-E —
    What’s Shrek got to do with anything? I did see Shrek III recently and I can say that I am so sick of the whole series I will not go to Shrek IV unless dragged there by force.

  • Alex —
    Zhong Lun is a very impressive firm and our summer associate who worked for them last summer thinks very highly of them.

  • Romain Guerel —
    Oui, oui. I agree with you on all counts.

  • TwoFish (ii) —
    Again, good points.

  • ChrisWaugh_Bj —
    That’s what makes this whole thing such a train wreck. It is pretty far from the norm.

  • Brendon Carr —
    Now I do not think even those of us most opposed to Jeff’s behavior believe he deserves the death penalty. . . .
    Good to see you have your blog up and running. Congratulations and what a great name.

  • John Jay

    Hard to say what is more entertaining:
    — the jilted lawyer out to exact revenge and money
    — the cash offer from a limousined managing partner of an “evil law firm”
    — or the self-interested comments by my brethren of the law
    While I would like to believe that the concerns expressed were due to a deep seated conviction about the structure of a civilized society, my guess is that some of the comments posted were based on more pedestrian concerns. We should say what we mean, as lawyers we fear this type of behavior because of its alleged success. After all if he had failed it would have underscored that the only true course for disputes is the system in which we have a proprietary interest. Heaven forbid a lawyer, of all people, solving their issues outside the legal system. Let us hope our clients never find out about such things.
    Having stated the obvious, I wonder how our jilted lawyer will look back on this incident. He has certainly shown the “evil law firm” and the faithful 16,000 that at least one western lawyer is willing to cast aside his professionalism for money and revenge. My grandfather told me once that my bad decisions were learning experience not excuses for tantrums, I wonder if that is applicable here? As for me, since I can’t control the actions of others, I spend most of my time trying to figure out what my own internal compass is suggesting, but none the less very entertaining.
    Yours truly,
    A self-interested sometimes circumspect lawyer

  • Jeremy —
    Good point. Yet another reason I have never been a big fan of parsing out or explaining motives.

  • JMS —
    You are exactly right regarding the limo. It’s no big deal and Jeff uses it unfairly. I agree with you also on the influence of the US police.

  • zuraffo —
    It’s a good story, yes, but Hollywood, I don’t think so.

  • nanheyangrouchuan

    Now its time to lighten things up with some good lawyer jokes as this thread has completely revolved around lawyers…

  • nh —
    I just finished a long meeting with a client, during which I told a few jokes at his expense. He told one joke near the end and I just glared at him. He then remarked that I had made a couple jokes and we all had laughed. I reminded him those jokes were different, they were at his expense not mine.
    Lawyer jokes are at your own risk.

  • nanheyangrouchuan

    So funny lawyers are no laughing matter?
    Who would win between in a comedy competition between a German and a lawyer? Or would the judges fall asleep before they could make a decision?

  • Alex

    What a great blog, interesting, superbly informative and very funny! I regularly recommend you guys to my business contacts……they always thank me!

  • old headhunter

    I love this blog, have it on feed, and am finally jumping in. Jeff does seem to be going through one of those newbie to China disillusionment stages.
    One question out of curiousity?
    Did Jeff work for Zhonglun A or B (perhaps C?) I do know there are at least 2 Zhonglun’s due to past partner differences, and yes there are some fine commercial property lawyers there.

  • Sorry for unclarity. FCPA applies to all US persons (legal or natural). It also can apply to non-US companies who issue public securities in the United States. However, its really tough for me to come up with a legal theory by which it would apply to a Chinese based firm, and if Mr. Brauer has one, I’d be really interested in hearing it.
    One should note that a major part of any big legal firm is to give guidance as to how to make something comply with FCPA. FCPA explicitly allows for “facilitation payments” and whether something is a legal “facilitation payment” or not is something that law departments constantly get asked about.
    An example that legal used in compliance training of something that is legal is paying a Nigerian custom official squeeze money so that they *don’t* inject you with what they claim is a flu shot. They once got a question like that from a person at a Nigerian airport, and the gudiance they gave was “pay the man!!!!”
    FCPA hasn’t stopped third world corruption, but it does a reasonable job at making sure that US-companies don’t get into a “corruption bidding war” since if US-company A loses a bid to US-company B based on what is obviously an illegal payment, the US attorney is likely to get a call.

  • I should point out that one reason I have a reasonably high opinion of the CCP is that I know people who have done business in other third world nations. Yes there is corruption in China, but the level and the socially disruptive effects don’t compare at all to places like Kenya, Nigeria, or Angola. To talk about China as a “failed state” is laughable. People who do that have never seen what a real failed state looks like.

  • zuraffo

    Dan,
    Are you thinking too highly of Hollywood or are you thinking too highly of Jeff’s spectacle? Hehe.

  • Well,Chris D-E
    France, England and Germany have always been at war against each other for Europe supremacy for the past 2000 years but I don’t think Germans had won a single joke competition.
    They are not funny but at least they didn’t have Margaret Thatcher!

  • lifter

    So we have two sorts of persons posting comments here…The first clearly knows nothing about modern China, and the second seems to consist of members of the legal profession trying to preserve the notion that their services are even required in this country.
    Assuming that Jeff is actually owed money would any of you actually take his case here? Hell no.
    Because you already know the truth of it.
    Jeff’s story is an everyday thing in China. Countless ESL teachers, foreign business owners and of course the Chinese themselves are cheated
    incessantly here with no recourse except the sort of action Jeff is taking. Been there done that myself.
    Those who want to truly understand the sort of amoral disaster that is precipitating itself in modern China should put down their cardboard dumplings and take a look between the lines here.

  • Fraudulent ad by foreign lawyer in China

    An American lawyer with an axe to grind about his former employers — a Chinese law firm — has been going

  • Lifter has it spot on. I posted an earlier comment to a similar effect, but it must have got lost somewhere because it didn’t appear here. be interesting to see what happens to this one.
    Something to the effect of ‘the legal profession and vested interests’…

  • Jeff

    I again thank everyone for this feedback. I was threatened by the managing partner (“I can’t guarantee your safety if you leave your office”) and senior partner Shirley Xu (“I will pursue you to your death”) and the fact that thousands of people are now discussing this makes me feel safer. I obviously agree with the comments by Lifter that this occurs frequently in China, and that it is rare that someone has a way to publicize it.
    Some comments in support of Zhong Lun make sense from the context of employers who don’t want employees complaining about them. But, the people commenting here are mostly westerners whose businesses are more easily sued when they breach contracts. Chinese companies, especially well-connected law firms, are part of the legal system that is corrupt, as the bribery video now posted on my blog http://www.chinalawyerblog.com shows.
    Finally, I think it is worth pointing out that while we are all having an open discussion here on this topic, Zhong Lun is trying to muzzle my actions, and discussion of this, but threatening me. I think this occurs frequently in China, and saw just yesterday that the PRC government denied permission to the Chinese doctor who exposed how China was hiding evidence of the SARS epidemic from going abroad to give a lecture. That would be unthinkable in most of the world, but is commonplace here in China.
    I hope this spectacle with Zhong Lun is resolved quickly, but again express my most sincere gratitude to everyone for the feedback and for occasionally paying attention to what’s happening.

  • Alex —
    Thank you!

  • Twofish —
    I concur.
    I once saw a cartoon that was labeled Asia on one side and Africa on the other. The Asia side, showed two people looking at a bridge, with one of them saying to the other, “See that bridge there, I got 10% of it.” On the Africa side, there is no bridge and the quote is, “See that bridge over there, I got 100% of it.”

  • Old Headhunter —
    Thanks for the props. Always appreciated. Go to the China Lawyer Blog and you can there follow the links.

  • Zuraffo —
    Neither. I just don’t think filmgoers will care and so no movie.

  • Lifter —
    Gee Lifter, thanks for clearing up the fog for all of us.

  • I received a comment from “Jeff” and I have decided not to publish it as I did not think it would be fair to do so. I am, at this point, skeptical of what Jeff says. As a lawyer, in determining truth, one oftentimes has to look at collateral matters and I have done so here.
    Jeff talks about getting 16,000 visitors a day to his site and I find that very difficult to believe.
    Jeff appears to have run a Google ad (See the story here that appears to have been a misrepresenation.
    So, Jeff, if you want to attack others, I ask you do so on your own site, not here.

  • If the amount of money that Jeff is talking about is anything under US$100,000, then it is probably pointless to consider suing to recover. Going through lawyers and the legal system involves a huge amount of costs. If you are trying to recover $50 million, then the stakes make the transaction costs are minimal. If you are trying to recover $5000 or even $50000, then it is pointless to try to go to court since the money and effort you expend in going to court makes the exercise pointless.
    I get the sense that a lot of the people who complain about the Chinese judicial system are basing their statements on ideals about how they think the US should work, and have never tried to work extensively in the US court system to recover money or have never tried to work within the US political system to lobby for something. It’s even worse if you are a foreigner since you don’t know the culture, and you might not have recourse to the courts at all.
    What works with small transactions is “reputation.” If Jeff just posted the fact that he thinks that Zhonglun isn’t a reputable business partner, or better yet made this fact known in his networks, this would have a huge impact. The most important question in business is “can I trust my partner” and the main way this is done is through informal word of mouth.

  • Dear Chris D-E,
    We are far from the original topic but I cannot let say bad words about our new French president Nicolas “Napoleon” Sarkozy. Royal is a shame for France not because she is socialist- this sickness can be cured- because she adapts her “ideas” in front of the people she is speaking of. For instance, I met her in January 2007 in Beijing. She said she is very impressed how efficient the Chinese criminal system is (sic!)Jeff -I am sure- will disagree. The week after, she speaks in front of the cameras in France and asks for the boycott of the Olympics game in 2008 over the crisis of Darfour and the death penalty. She is a “je-ne-sais-quoi” messy! In the other side of the spectrum, we have a new president who is everywhere and is coming to China end-october beginning november. Frenchs see him as a new Napoleon or General de Gaulle, except for the size he is only 1m58 while De Gaulle 1m96.

  • turner69nyc

    Speaking of unethical, one need only look into Mr. Brauer’s past to find strong evidence of it. In an early China Lawyer Blog post, Jeff claimed to have worked as an American lawyer for 6 years in large based firms. I worked with Jeff at Whittman Breed and Abbott in NYC, well before it merged with Winston Strawn (the firm he claimed to work at). However, Jeff was fired from WB&A within 6 months of starting there because of his caustic personality and arrogance. He just could not fit in and play by the rules. Other than his six months at WB&A, Jeff never practiced law in the US. He dabbled, but failed at a political run for congress in NY; and tried to run a publishing house for several year, but that too was not successful. I confronted him by email about his misrepresentations, but not surprisingly he declined to post my reply for others to read. So much for being honest, eh?

  • Anonymous

    Very egotistical sense of himself, just found these on google…
    Book publisher
    http://select.nytimes.com/search/restricted/article?res=F40F17FB34590C728CDDA10894D9404482
    Running for the House with a total of $27
    http://www.opensecrets.org/politicians/alsorun.asp?CID=N00025268&cycle=2002
    http://www.queenstribune.com/archives/nfparchive/2002/0808/notforpub.html
    I’ve had enough of this troubled chap.

  • TwoFish —
    I agree with you. We get this most often in the areas of IP and breach of contract actions. Someone will come to us about what to do against a Chinese company that is stealing their IP and we tell them they need to sue and about how much it will cost. They then tell us they knew China’s legal system was unfair. I then ask them how they think it would be different in the US and they go silent. It would cost more in the US, that’s how it would be different.
    I am not for a moment claiming China’s legal system is even nearly as good as that which we have over here, but it is not as bad as it is usually made out to be either, at least with respect to commercial disputes in its more sophisticated cities.

  • Monsieur Guerel —
    Moi, j’aime Sarkozy. Je pense que c’est temps que la France l’a obtenu quelq’un sans la crainte.

  • turner69nyc —
    Interesting. Jeff,is this true?
    I spoke with one of the most popular, longest established China blogs and was told they get around 10,000 visitors a day and much of that comes from Google searches. Jeff, please explain how you came up with your figure of 16,000 readers a day.

  • anon —
    So he ran for political office without much money and at one time owned a small publishing house?

  • Jeff

    Again, appreciate the feedback, both supportive and not-so-supportive (openly hostile). Note that we are openly discussing a topic in a country where such open debate is suppressed, and following threats by a firm that also wanted to close down a block and suppress speech. Agree or not, open debate is healthy. Also, I know that the Chinese struggle to understand how Americans openly debate issues, and I hope this debate is not mistaken by Zhong Lun for support by anybody on this blog’s commentary of suppressing my efforts to express my opposition to how Zhong Lun didn’t pay me, but rather feedback, pro and con, on the issue being discussed.

  • Law Office of Todd L. Platek

    Chris D-E: As Austin Powers would say, “Oh,behave…!”

  • Jeff —
    I will be blunt with you.
    Neither I nor the bulk of our readers are at all impressed. You couch your crusade in the cloak of free speech, yet I see it as nothing more than an angry ex-employee trying to seek his pound of flesh in revenge. You say you hope this “debate” is not seen as support for suppressing your efforts to express your opposition to Zhong Lun, but that is exactly what it is. Though I am not calling for a governmental body to muzzle your speech, I am firmly of the view that you yourself should have muzzled it and your failure to have done so does not reflect well on you at all. If there is free speech involved here, it is your freedom to make an ass of yourself.
    You talk of debate, but when issues are raised about your truthfullness, you entirely ignore them. I have asked you in various ways for support of your claim to have 16,000 readers and you have never responded. A comment says your claim to have worked at big law firms is not true and you are again silent. Your failure to respond to these things leads me doubt all that you say.

  • Dear Chris D-E,
    If you want to compare French women in politics, you shall rather have a look on Mrs Nicolas Sarkozy, Cecilia who has a better profile than Segolene. You will have the opportunity to meet her -in personae- she comes with her husband by the end of october. Probably, you can show her around Beijing while Nicolas has some talks with Chinese government people!
    Concerning Jeff, why do I have this feeling in his last comment that he only listens what he wants about what we advise him to do? This has nothing to do with free speech but with common sense. If you are a lawyer behave like one! By placing fake ads on google, lying on the number of visits everyday on your blog, etc… you don’t lie to us, you lie to yourself. I don’t know in the US what are the conditions for it, but in France you could be disbar for lack of respect for your profession. A lot of well-established people like Chris and Dan gave you very good advise, you shall thank them but also listen to them. I have been able to survive and develop in China for the past 11 years and Chris D-E and others much longer, it is probably because we are still true to our principles and pragmatic in our daily work! Follow our advice or your chances of survival are dim! Is it what you want in your life?

  • Anonymous

    Interesting story
    Finally, Jeff finish this, he told all they already solved this issue and will close his blog, that is all. anyway, he should grow in politic, the blog just be his tool.
    But to Jeff : China is not good, but after you leave, we will be better.

  • Dane

    I appreciate that Dan would be unwilling to accept the choices Jeff has made, but I am glad he did it.
    Based on all the info out there, I tend to believe that Zhong Lun refused to pay Jeff, and that he was indignant.
    No one has really approached this issue directly, and I am not able to go to the record to determine the length of the delay.
    Now there are numerous problems with the model. Jeff apparently worked purely in a marketing capacity, due to his incentive structure. This in a firm with diverse, disconnected entities and few centralized services.
    But in my view the ‘rightness’ or ‘wrongness’ of Jeff’s actions are more a matter of the length of delay and prior actions taken by Jeff to attempt a settlement.
    So, assuming for the sake of argument Zhong Lun did arrogantly refuse to pay what was due, then Zhong Lun is now on notice: you can’t treat people (at least foreigners) like that or you will have problems. Jeff went with the scorched earth, and presumably will beat a hasty retreat. Wonder what will happen next time?

  • ben p

    I’ve been practicing employment law for almost two decades, and I’ll be willing to bet that Jeff just walked away empty handed. He most likely claimed the matter had been resolved, implying some sort of payment by his former employer, just to save face.
    From what I’ve read, this guy loves to twist the facts in his favor at any given chance and just does not seem to “get it.” The worst part is that I truly believe that he does it only to convince the readers of these posts butto convince himself. I’ve seen it a hundred times, people like this tend to constantly be on the move hopping from one job/trade to another until they are eventually pegged as trouble makers and asked to leave or simply fired.
    Jeff also seem to have a combination of ethical issues and denial skills. That is probably why Jeff does not respond to any posts questioning his ethics and truthfulness. Most people would jump to defend themselves with proof in the form of solid facts if faced with ethics questions. Jeff prefers to pretend they were never asked. If you don’t hear a tree fall in the forest, did it make a sound? Sad, but true, some people live their lives like this, and kick in their denial skill full force to compensate. That’s why I not only disagree with Jeff’s method of working out his EE/ER dispute, but I question absolutely any statement he makes. Then again, he probably did learn a lesson because I highly doubt he got anything in return for all his ranting.

  • Romain Guerel —
    Unfortunately, Jeff does not seem to listen.

  • Anon —
    Yes.

  • Dane —
    I vehemently disagree with you. I certainly agree with your comment regarding my unwillingness to accept what Jeff did. I am unwilling to accept it because I view it as unfair and unprofessional.
    But, I dispute that Jeff was the victim here. I have been practicing law for a long long time and, as such, I am plenty familiar with what we lawyers call origination disputes. The reality is that there will always be issues regarding which lawyer brought in a particular matter. Is it the corporate lawyer who took the new client out to lunch 5 times in the preceeding 5 months or is it the labor lawyer who actually got the call regarding an employment dispute? Two lawyer take a potential client out to lunch a year ago and one of the two takes the potential client out to lunch again a week before the person takes his business to the lawyer with whom he lunched a week ago. How do you divide up the credit. Origination sounds easy until you start getting into it and then there has to be compromise. At the beginning of this dispute I had no position regarding Jeff’s dispute, but by the end, I am siding with Zhong Lun. I am siding with Zhong Lun because I do not trust Jeff. I do not trust him because I doubt his ethics and I do not trust him because it appears he has been less than truthful on a number of things (his work history and his readership levels). I know of no better indicater of one’s lack of truthfullness than catching them in a lie.
    Even assuming Zhong Lun did refuse to pay, that does NOT justify what Jeff did. Two wrongs do not make a right.

  • ben p —
    I really really (I meant to say it twice) like your analysis and I am buying into it.
    It was driving me crazy how he would not respond to the accusations of lying being made against him. I just could not understand it.
    I stand with you in questioning Jeff’s method for working out his dispute and I too question everything he says.
    Does he not even see how he has made himself toxic to future employers?

  • marco

    A google search reveals that Jeff Brauer used to work at Lehman Lee & Xu, in Beijing.

  • China expat1

    I suspect that most people who are criticizing Jeff and his blog have never done business with Chinese people and haven’t a clue of both the widepread corruption and ignorance of contract rules in this country.
    As primitive and ridiculous as they may be, blogs, threats, and childish behaviors, are the only effective means of resolving any sort of dispute here. Most Americans have no clue at how disorderly this place works. Do I respect the concept of a bad-mouthing blog? No. Do I understand why Jeff had to do this? Yes.
    I know it’s going to sound bitter, but I simply do not trust anyone in this country, and the fact that America has rule of law and an infinitely superior legal system does, in fact, make me also proud to be an American, or a Westerner at least. Do business with the Chinese for a month, and you’ll quickly see how incredibly shady they are.

  • Shanghai Gene

    Publicizing a wrongdoing is one of the best ways of getting the perpetrator to mend his ways.
    As long as the reporting is done truthfully and in a balanced manner, this is an excellent recourse for those who can’t sue.
    If one sees it as unethical to post the alleged perpetrator’s name, an alternative would be to do as Jeff has done, but without posting the perpetrator’s name. Then, simply ask interested parties to write in with suggestions as to how to resolve the issue.
    However, publicizing a wrongdoing is an age-old and effective practice, when done truthfully and in balance.
    Those who are considering hiring the alleged perpetrator(s) may now have cause for concern, and will investigate further before putting their money and trust on the line.

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  • Sam Peckinpah

    Let me guess, said Chinese law firm has been giving kickbacks to representatives of their clients for referring work to the said law firm. Yawn Yawn. Chinese law firms have been doing this ever since they first had permission to operate privately in the late 80’s.
    In fact it is the norm in china.

  • Andrew

    He’s back and as crazy/warped as ever: http://thechinalawyerblog.com/

  • I stand with you in questioning Jeff’s method for working out his dispute and I too question everything he says.
    ————
    Peter Fernandes