And we couldn’t be more pleased.

The ABA Journal is the magazine of the American Bar Association.  The American Bar Association is by far the leading/most prestigious bar association in North America.

And yet, there we are, just named to the ABA Journal’s Blawg Hall of Fame, and in there with a star-studded roster of 20 other legal blogs that have been and still are at the top of the blogging game. And thanks to our blog title starting with a “C” for China, rather than a “Z” for Zimbabwe, we are at number two on the list.

In all seriousness, this is quite an honor and one we do not take lightly.

We started this blog nearly eight years ago, on January 5, 2006, with an introductory post explaining what we would be seeking to achieve.  We were young(er) then and a helluva (sorry for that word) more idealistic then:

Why are we doing this?

What exactly will we be doing?

There are more than 4 million blogs. Many of these are about China, including some very good ones. Some of our favorites include Talk Talk China and Simon World for general China information, The China Stock Blog for Chinese stock market information, China Tech Stories for information regarding China’s technology sector, and Journey Around China for travel information.  [3-6-2012 Update: None of these blogs still exist so we removed the links]

There is even a superb Chinese law blog, The Chinese Law Prof Blog, but it has a distinctly academic bent and we will not.

We will be discussing the practical aspects of Chinese law and how it impacts business there. We will be telling you about what works and what does not and what you as a businessperson can do to use the law to your advantage. Our aim is to assist businesses already in China or planning to go into China, not to break new ground in legal theory or policy. We want to start a conversation with, for and about the person who wants to know “what is what” in China and the practical aspects of starting and growing a business in or involved with China.

We are not writing for those who want to know more about Section (A)viii of a particular piece of Chinese legislation or the history of that act or the policy reasons behind it. Our site is not focused on the legal scholar.

We want to initiate a discussion regarding the changing laws in China. We will constantly be challenging the various misconceptions the West has about law in China, including that the law in China does not really matter or that guanxi can supplant it.

We will provide information to those who conduct business with or in China as to how they can use the law as both a shield and as a sword. We will give you our insights to achieve practical solutions, while doing our best to entertain.

We know lawyers are not popular, and though we are ourselves really quite likable, we recognize the need to avoid those things that incite lawyer hatred. In other words, we will strive to avoid legal jargon and namby-pamby language that attempts to camouflage our views or to avoid controversy.

We want this blog to be a place for conversation and even controversy. We expect many of you will disagree with us much of the time and we do not care. We will always strive to avoid boring you or being unwilling to take a stand. We are not going to be afraid of being wrong — in fact, we want you to tell us when and how we are wrong. If you want “lawyer language” or long strings of caveats, you are going to have to pay exorbitant legal fees to get that elsewhere.

Though our focus will be on the interaction of law and business in China, we most certainly will be personalizing this page with our own experiences. We will tell you more than just that the law is this and this is what needs to be done to comply. We will discuss how the laws as written may say one thing, but our experience dictates something else. We will tell you when you need to do more than just follow the law to succeed and we will set out exactly what that something else is. We will estimate the chances for success if one does one thing as opposed to another. You will hear what we have done to succeed for ourselves and for our clients in China and you will hear about where we failed. We will regale you with stories about the Chinese lawyers with whom we work, the foreign and Chinese businesspeople with whom we deal, and even the places we go. There will be times where our lawyer ethical rules will make us unable to name names, but we will always work to tell the full story.

In addition to our discussions regarding what we are seeing on the ground in China, we will post articles and postings from elsewhere, to which we will, when appropriate, add our own comments. We will also post events, like seminars, conferences and trade shows, that we believe will advance our readers’ grasp of China law and business.

It has become a blog cliché to implore readers for their input, but it is so important we must join the crowd on this. We do not purport to know everything about Chinese law. That is impossible.  China is anything but monolithic and the differences in the legal situations between the various regions are no less pronounced than the cultural differences.

Our strengths are in forming companies in China, in drafting international contracts with Chinese companies (in English and in Chinese), in intellectual property protection, and in litigation. We welcome your comments, suggestions, and ideas on any area of law relating to conducting business in China.

In plain language, we ask that you write us early and often. We will review your comments before we post them, but that does NOT mean you should not criticize us or disagree with us. Our review will be to filter out “comment spam” and comments that are without substance and/or are personally abusive. We want to encourage a high level of discussion but we will not ban or delete your comments just because you come after us — at least not the first few times.

So why are we doing this? The short answer to this initial question is that we are doing this to — in our own small way — advance the dialogue regarding Chinese law and business.

Since that time, our goals have, if anything, become more circumspect and more pedestrian.  At this point, we merely seek to be interesting and to — still in our small way — help Western companies doing business in China.

According to Blog Rank, we have the best overall statistics (mostly a combination of various readership and citing criteria) of any law blog and according to Avvo, we are the fourth (really the third though since the allegedly most read one is Avvo itself, not just its blog) most read law blog.In the 2881 days since our inception, we have written 3,199 posts (counting this one), which is a hair over one a day.  We have received 26,599 comments, which equals approximately 8.5 comments per post.

We have categorized our posts as follows:

  • China Business   1381
  • Legal News 1,133
  • Recommended Reading 608
  • Events 183
  • China Travel 93
  • Basics of China Business Law   90
  • Good People 80
  • China Film Industry 39
1,243 of our posts have ended by asking “what do you think?”  Our first post to ask that was in May, 2006.  257 of our posts ended by asking “what are you seeing out there?”

The following are our top five posts in terms of readers comments

Though our readership has increased every single year since our inception, the number of comments we receive has, unfortunately, declined.  We attribute this mostly to the greatly increased use of RSS readers.

But our numbers really tell only a small fraction of the story.  We (and by we here, I am talking about myself, Dan Harris, and my co-blogger Steve Dickinson) remain in awe at the friends and business relations our doing this blog has brought us.  And we are sincerely and eternally grateful for that.

But if I had to mention the one thing that saddens me most, it would be the number of great China blogs (many written by my friends) that are no longer extant.  I would be lying if I were to claim that our own blogging has not suffered from their absence.

So where do we go from here?  Where should we go from here?  Honestly, at this point, our plan is simply to keep doing what we have always done as it seems to still be working.  Just as we promised in our very first post, we will keep seeking to “give you our insights to achieve practical solutions, while doing our best to entertain.”

What do you think?  What are you seeing out there?

We still really really want to know.