A few weeks ago, I received an email from a Chinese-American, fluent in both English and Chinese, asking how he should go about learning Chinese law and Chinese legal terms so as to be better prepared for securing a paralegal job with the eventual plan of becoming an international lawyer/China lawyer.
In his initial email, this person asked me not to name him on the blog, a request I found pretty strange because I saw absolutely nothing in his request that would be “blog-worthy.”
However, upon receiving co-blogger and (China super lawyer) Steve Dickinson’s response to this person, I instantly realized I had a blog post on my hands. So here goes:
Here are my suggestions on how to get familiar with legal Chinese. It is certainly difficult, but the below is the method I suggest.
1. You have to select a place to start. It is all difficult, so you should just do your best. What you want is a law or regulation in Chinese that has a very good English language translation. Because your interest in Chinese business law, I suggest you start with China’s Company Law and then review the regulations on foreign invested enterprises. There are three sets of regulations: Wholly Foreign Owned Entities, Equity Joint Ventures and Cooperative Joint Ventures. Both Chinese and English versions of these are available on the internet.
2. Read the Chinese from copies of the laws/regulations you get on the internet. First, compare the Chinese with the English and try to develop your vocabulary list from your translation comparisons. When you come across Chinese terms you don’t know, try using an online dictionary. You can cut the Chinese and paste it into the online dictionary. This is much faster than looking up the words in a dictionary.
3. You should buy a good legal dictionary. There are many available, but none are excellent. You can look in the Foreign Language Bookstore on Fuzhou Road in Shanghai. If you use the technique above, you should not need to do a lot of dictionary work.
4. As you move from Chinese law to Chinese law, you will find that the reading goes easier. Be patient as it will be very slow at the start. Other laws to look at are the Constitution, the Basic Principles of Civil Law and the Property Law and the Enterprise Income Tax Law.
Good luck and enjoy!