Overseas experience is invaluable
Xie Xianghui, a senior lawyer with the Grandall Law Firm in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, was one of 30 Chinese lawyers selected to travel to the United States this year to study at law schools and gain practical experience of working in US legal practices.
The 30 lawyers were chosen from a group of 100 promising legal professionals from across China who attended a 15-day special training program on cross-border lawsuits, organized by the All China Lawyers Association in Beijing.
"The visit gave me the opportunity to better understand the US legal system and the latest developments in the law and the country's economic development. That experience will be invaluable when I have to deal with litigation involving US companies," Xie, 45, said.
The group arrived in October, and attended law lectures at Temple University in Philadelphia during the first two weeks of the visit.
The classes - taught by law professors, senior prosecutors and lawyers - focused on the US legal system and laws relating to corporations, securities, corruption and the banking system, plus arbitration and anti-trust.
"Thanks to the teachers' excellent illustrations of typical situations, such as international mergers and acquisitions, and participation in a series of training scenarios, I gained practical experience and knowledge of drafting law documents and international negotiations," Xie said.
During the third week of the trip, the group visited several local courts and mediation and arbitration centers.
"The deepest impression I was left with, is that judges succeed in mediating many cases before the court hearings. Therefore, they are not under too much pressure and are able to concentrate on other cases that come before the court. We learned a lot," he said.
One of the courts the group visited hears about 30,000 civil and criminal cases every year, but the judges manage to settle at least 10,000 of them without a trial.
Xie said the group also attended an appeal hearing at one of the courts.
Unlike Chinese courts, where judges often repeatedly ask about the facts of the case and the evidence presented, the judges in the US paid greater attention to "hearing arguments related to the law and procedure, rather than repeatedly asking about the facts of the case, greatly improving efficiency", he said, adding that the court dealt with 10 cases in the morning session alone.
The group also spent two weeks at eight law firms, where the Chinese lawyers worked with local lawyers and gained more experience.
Xie was sent to the Philadelphia offices of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, the largest US law firm, which employs more than 2,000 lawyers and 300 partners, and has offices in more than 10 countries and regions.
"The firm has a very strict management structure, and it's very professional. Great attention is paid to cultivating the lawyers' practical abilities and offering them systematic training," he said.
Some of the firms expressed willingness to deepen cooperation with the Chinese lawyers in cases related to corruption and graft, because a growing number of US companies are trading and investing in China, which has resulted in a rise in the number of corporate cases related to bribery and improper trading activities.
Xie specializes in cross-border lawsuits. He said his main priority during the trip was to "become more familiar with judicial procedures, cultures and customs in foreign countries and to keep pace with the latest economic and legal developments. For me, that was the bigg-est benefit from the trip."