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Business in China: International Lawyer or Local Counsel?


  1. You know the mentality of an international lawyer
  2. A specialized international lawyer has longstanding relationships to China

I. You know the mentality of an international lawyer

Foreign investors and companies engaging in China need to think about whether to seek legal advice with an international lawyer or Chinese law firm. Vice versa, Chinese companies have to deal with this very same question, too. It has to be decided whether an investment in Europe or North America is best supported by a lawyer being admitted to the Chinese Bar or with local counsel exclusively.

Aside from cultural and linguistical differences, there are also hand-tight legal issues that need to be considered. Without a question, as soon as complicated Chinese or European/US legal problems are to be solved, investors have to contact local counsel with a license to practice law in the country of the investment target.

However, it is crucial how such a local law firm will be hired in this context. In regard to China, there are two tried and tested alternatives: The investor can directly hire a Chinese law firm or an international lawyer without a Chinese license to practice law is instructed to hire a competent Chinese legal advisor. The second alternative has been proven more useful: A lawyer in China has to take an oath before being admitted to the Chinese Bar. In this oath, a Chinese lawyer has to swear absolute loyalty to Socialism and the Communist Party. According to experience, this can lead to serious conflicts with the independence of a Chinese lawyer. US or German lawyers are not exposed to such a stress ratio, for instance.

II. A specialized international lawyer has longstanding relationships to China

How exactly does an international lawyer solve this situation when local counsel in China is needed? Law firms specialized in international business law maintain close relations to and longstanding networks in China, alliances that are based on strong proven confidence.

Do you need more information on this subject, feel free to contact us at any time!


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