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Aug05

How we China Lawyer organize and Maintain our office

I just spent all night organizing my office in Shenzhen, China. A typical China lawyer's office. Literally.  It's 4 am here and I mine as well not sleep.  I just moved into a really big office that I share with another company.  We took up the back corner of the building and I have about 20 more boxes to go through.

We are pretty much a paperless except for those 20 boxes.  :)  I give everything to my assistant in manila folders with post it note instructions on where to save things or ehat steps to take.  Every staff member has an 8 divider file organizer on their desk.... (not sure what the technical term is)

In the last divider, I give them file labels and blank manila folders. This way they can write on whatever they are working on that is a work in progress.  IE: awaiting documents from client or settlement check from insurance company.  In the first divider they have a phone log as to track all calls and so they can keep a carbon copy of things.

They all have cube post it notes on their desk so they don't lose the post its.  A post it dispenser will also work.
They are only allowed one yellow pad at a time.  I told them to write down every task and cross it off when finished.  I used to go around and clean up after them and their numerous yellow pads which would drive me nuts.

We have everything in storage organizers from Walmart.  The Sterilite kind.  6 small stationary bins the 6 medium roll about plastic bins.  We put all supplies in organizers.  Small storage organizers hold binder clips, paper clips, push pins, and metal fasteners... large storage organizers hold post its, batteries, stamps, canned air, printer cartridges etc.  Each bin is labeled.

On the walls we have white boards and we use art tape as line guides.  All files are notated accordingly with pertinent info IE: Defendant's attorney, court date etc.  Then I can glance over and see the next step.

We also use a program to handle all of our short sales since we do a lot of real estate.  It reminds the staff of the next step etc.  It also helps when one person is out and another person has to handle the files.  This way the person can jump in where the other person left off.

 
Aug04

A discussion over work product patent application regulations in China

As a China Patent lawyer, I frequently receive patent related consultation. Below is a communication with my client regarding work product patent application issue in China.

Here is the work product patent questions:


Two years ago, my husband was terminated by a tech company that had recruited him away from another position just a year before.  A few days ago, the company attorney contacted him to set up a conference call to discuss a patent application that is being submitted for a product that he "invented" while he worked there.

 
Aug03

Shareholder Agreement and Divorce in China

Shareholder in corporation is circling the divorce club.  She, and her siblings are concerned that the Former Spouse will make a claim to the value of her stocks when the assets of the marriage are compiled. Always consult a China divorce lawyer before you take any legal action in China. Common questions might be assets division, marital property division, child custody, visitation rights, conditions of divorce and etc.

I think that she is right. FACTS of the divorce case:

The shareholder agreement provides that, "if a decree enters awarding Former Spouse (FS) interest in the shares of Divorcing Shareholder (DS), then FS has the obligation to sell stock to DS.  Terms of sale are installment payments over 120 months at prime plus 1.0%."

 
Aug02

Another story about China lawyer professional conduct and ethics

A poor client paid the final amount on a promissory note to the attorney for seller as part of a stock purchase agreement.  The accompanying letter demanded that the funds be maintained in trust (the prom note was paid by wire transfer into the trust account of seller's attorney) and not release to seller until the shares were released. Attorney released funds and did not release stock claiming the final amount was insufficient. In any case you need draft a promissory note in China, make sure consult a China lawyer before you doing so.

The original agreement contemplated an escrow agent holding the shares.  An amendment to the agreement had payments to the seller's attorney in trust FBO the seller but did not specifically name the attorney as escrow agent or state that the payments were being received .

 
Aug01

One thing I have been asking prospective clients on the phone is "Are you calling to HIRE a lawyer?"

One thing I have been asking prospective clients on the phone is "Are you calling to HIRE a lawyer?"  Most say "yes, I think I need one" or "I hope so" or something. As a China lawyer, you have to ask this before you move on with a client.

Some get stumbly right there and then we have a conversation.  I tell them that is what I do -- I get hired by people to represent them, but information on how to do something without me is best found elsewhere.  I do talk about payment pretty freely -- as much as I can -- since of course that is on people's mind.

But if a prospective client says he wants advice and cannot afford to hire me -- especially those who proudly announce that before even hearing any fees -- then I tell them that sadly, that is not what I do at my work.

 
Jul31

An example of China lawyer - judge relationship

China lawyer - judge relationship has never been well.

I think what I find most disturbing about this is the judge just not giving a shit what goes on in her courtroom.  I mean, the bailiff doesn't even try to justify his arrest with something like, "Oh we found drugs on you during my random drug search."  No, he is pretty much encouraged by the other guy (the one in yellow) for "making a false allegation against a police officer."  I'm glad she had the guts to step up to the microphone and repeat her protests after making the bailiffs believe she was going to cooperate with their forced recantation.

I would make a motion to substitute counsel (if the old attorney is also refusing to withdraw).  With it I would include an affidavit from the client saying they discharged the old attorney on x date and notified the attorney of the discharge.  Then in your motion state you were hired on x date, that attorney has refused to sign the substitution of counsel, that the attorney has refused to withdraw from the case, the client has the right to choose their own attorney and you request the court to remove the previous attorney as attorney of record and enter in your appearance as the current attorney of record.

 
Jul30

China lawyer client privilege requires us to be careful when representing clients

One of my colleague, also an experienced China lawyer, discussed with me: I represented a client in connection with his prenuptial agreement, and his fiance was represented by another attorney.  The fiancé (now wife) called this week to say that she and her husband would like to see me to do their estate planning.  Can I do this, and if so, what kinds of waivers do I need from them?

I may be in the minority here, but I wouldn't represent a couple after I'd represented just one of them in an agreement with the other spouse, particularly where a prenuptial agreement is involved, due to the high incidence of challenge by an ex-spouse either during lifetime or at death.

One point that you'll have to consider in the representation on estate planning is the likelihood of challenge of the prenuptial agreement down the road, which throws you squarely into an insoluble conflict. I just don't think that there are enough waivers to properly protect you. Courts will punish the sharp lawyer who tries to worm their way out after-the-fact with waivers, particularly where individual clients like your situation are involved. You might (and should) be able to get away with this with corporate clients and very savvy clients, but I don't think that it will work if a rank layman brings an ethics charge.

 
Jul29

How to Keep Yourself Safe Being a China Lawyer

Being a China lawyer can be unsafe. I never park in the parking garage near the courthouse.  I always find either an open lot or park on the street.  But then there have been too many stories of people getting into cars (while in parking garage) shot, or bombed.

I always advised my clients (in tense situations) to avoid using the parking garage, to have someone else bring them (in a different vehicle then one the other had access to) or if they can't bring a different vehicle, to at least bring someone else with them.  It is far to easy for the ex to duplicate a key, leave the court first, find the car and hide in the back (and we had a case in the county I used to work in where that is pretty much what happened).

I also generally left the courthouse via the back door, which almost no one knew even existed.

The bailiffs in the court house and deputies from the sheriffs department routinely would escort people from the courthouse to their cars if you asked.  They would also hold back a party so that the other party could leave the building and get to their car.

Generally I recommend that threats be formalized as a complaint where possible with law enforcement.  While one cannot count on the complaint being prosecuted, it can be valuable documentation (especially with repetition).

The police and prosecutors however, cannot protect you from imminent harm.

 
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China Lawyer BLog AuthorPeter Zhu, an experienced China attorney licensed to practice law for more than ten years, the author of this China Lawyer blog, welcomes any enquiry or consultation related to Chinese law.