As part of an ongoing effort to specialise and promote legal business skills in the region, the Shenzhen Lawyers Association has recently launched a legal services directory, to more effectively allow consumers to purchase legal services. The directory currently includes 331 different legal service products and providers, with 27 different categories, including family law, labour, real estate, intellectual property and environmental law as well as areas more specific to the region, such as public-private partnership law and internet finance. As well as this, providers are required to include indicative costs, fee structures and schedules of work for different types of matters. The goal being to promote access to justice, increase consumer knowledge and promote trust in legal services.
Alongside this the association has launched new professional standards for lawyers, these are focused on business skills and practice management. The standards have been developed to promote confidence in professional management of matters, alongside existing legal skills.
Read more about the directory and standards here (Available via google translate).
The Inter-Pacific Bar Association 30th annual conference, which had been scheduled to take place in Shanghai, from April 20th to 23rd, has been delayed by six months and will now be held from October 18th to 21st. Organisers have cited member concerns over the novel strain of coronavirus COVID-19, as well as governmental and travel restrictions designed to limit transmission of the virus as factors in having to make a decision to postpone now.
The conference organisers have said that the programme in October will remain the same and that delegates who had already registered will have their registration automatically transferred. Organisers have said they will contact hotels to manage arrangements.
The IPBA full comment is available here.
Further details of the conference are available here.
During his recent visit to China, Singapore Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law K Shanmugam held a bilateral meeting with Chinese Minister of Justice Fu Zhenghua. Both sides emphasised the progress in legal cooperation that has been made over the past few years.
In accordance with the Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s agreement in November 2018 to bring legal cooperation to a new and higher level, the two ministers signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the Ministry of Law and the Chinese Ministry of Justice, establishing a Singapore-China Legal Cooperation Council that will convene biennially at the Vice-Minister level, alternating between Singapore and China.
The MOU follows past agreements and programme launches that we have covered in past newsletters.
Read more about the official visit and the agreement.
Platform economy breaks into the legal profession by pooling lawyers with different specializations into a simple user-friendly platform, consolidating the lower-tier supply side of the legal market and generating economy of scale. This paper is the very first empirical piece looking into China’s online legal service portals. It is found that, the intermediary functions of the portals as the “matchmaker” between the supply and the demand side are often commingled with certain substantive legal services, which cannot be easily unbundled from each other. Given the grand information asymmetry in legal service provision and the potential importance the users may attach to the portals’ recommendation, the quality of such intermediation and matchmaking still leaves to be desired. This being said, because the portals help to improve the access to justice in China by virtue of offering an EXTRA channel for acquiring and comparing potentially useful information, which is made available at a much lower cost than visiting a physical law firm, the regulator should strive to improve the quality, rather than block up the source of the information. To that end, this paper proposes, based on the inspiration of the ABS regime, an alternative license for these online legal service providers, which imposes minimum regulatory and leaves room for new innovative business structures to evolve.
Full Paper Available Here
Jing Li, Tilburg University – Department of Business Law
The legal profession is undergoing fundamental changes; and this is the case not just in those established legal markets. Based on a state-of-the-art sketch of China’s legal profession, this paper identifies and analyzes the latest innovation initiatives and alternative business models, which happen simultaneously at the levels of the law firms as incumbents, and the other legal service providers, especially the rapidly rising online legal service providers. Propelled by the market demands and benefiting from technological advancements, the provision of legal services has become so versatile today, going far beyond the office of lawyers. In the meantime, although deeply entrenched in the system, some leading big corporate law firms in China have also creatively incorporated key corporate features in running their business and compensating their partners, effectively deviating from the partnership pure legal services regulation. Such market reality questions the necessity and effect of the regulatory restrictions on law firm legal form and ownership structure, and sets out an agenda for related research in the future.
Citation: Li, Jing, Legal Profession of China in a Globalized World: Innovations and New Challenges (November 13, 2017).
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