New blog out there called The Life of a Lawyer at a Chinese Law Firm: Practicing Law in a Country Where There is no Law [link no longer exists]. It is a most unusual blog and certainly worth a look-see.
The writer has wisely chosen to remain anonymous, though it took me one e-mail to get the writer’s name. The writer explains his purpose as follows:
I want to explain who I am and why I am writing this. Some of this info comes from my blog/diary entries that I wrote and kept private for the past 20 months while working at one of China’s largest law firms (five offices, about 300 attorneys, all Chinese except me initially, and later another two foreigners added (see the bottom of the list), in addition to some semi-volunteer summer interns like Travis Hodgkins who spent a couple months at the firm and for some reason and somehow survived on the US$10 per day salary the firm paid them). [CLB Note: Travis is spending this summer with us in Shanghai where we are paying him considerably more than $10 per day] I’ll mix the notes I have that track my time at the law firm with comments about current legal issues here, so there’s a mix. I kept my blog because some of what I saw was so incredible, and I’d guess others especially US attorneys would agree. I am now doing mergers and acquisitions work, still based in China, at a specialty firm, also in Beijing.
I am writing this for a few reasons, some more admirable than others. The more admirable reasons are that I’ve met foreign law students during the 2+ years I’ve been here who are trying to figure out how a foreign attorney can get a job here, and make decent money, since most of them just get slave wages as interns at Chinese firms and others that hire them to polish English or serve as the model foreigner for clients. In addition, I’ve received calls and emails from people abroad nearly every day asking the same questions: how do I get a China lawyer job. That’s a good reason to write this. Another good reason is that blogs are becoming popular, and I like to read some of them, especially the China Law blog and Ben’s Blog: an American working in China [link no longer exists].
A reason I think it is interesting to read about what a US attorney does in China is because the law in China is a charade in many ways. There are laws here, certainly, and regulations, and plenty of them. However, the court system is corrupt and doesn’t work and there really isn’t any way to enforce laws so for all intents and purposes they don’t really exist.
So in his first post he who goes by the name Jeff, slams two law firms, maligns the management skills of 1.3 billion people and writes off China’s nascent legal system in its entirety. He also wrongly claims there are no American lawyers blogging from China even though Steve Dickinson, who co-writes this blog, has been living and working in China for years.
Reading the Life of the Lawyer blog is for me somewhat like staring at a car wreck on the side of the road. I do it and I have to confess that I somewhat enjoy it, but it makes me feel uncomfortable.
Is this blog intended to contribute to the discourse on law and lawyering in China or is it merely a temporary outlet for anger and revenge?
I would love to hear what others think on this one.