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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.

 

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.

 

China Contingent Lawyer Fee in Personal Injury Case

I'm going to talk about 'contingency' cases in general; from the perspective of a solo practitioner. If you follow my rules it will save you a lot of time, effort and heartache. Which is not to say you will avoid those things entirely, stuff happens, but it will minimize it.

I've done personal injury contingency cases, I've done Will contest contingency cases, I've done collection contingency cases and I've done contract contingency cases.  So I got some experience in the area. And I've learned some things over the years; I won't say I'm an expert but I have made some mistakes and learned from them, and done some things right and learned from them.

 

Personal Injury and Insurance Claim Case in China

I have a personal injury case of my client, who is a foreign national working and living in China for many years. She is a business person doing business in China. She signed a power of attorney to me after being injured in an accident and then I became her attorney.  I have made policy demand to insurance company.  They came back with a ridiculous low ball offer.  Truly ridiculous.

Defendant has been served with a lawsuit (this week).  However, they are not yet represented by counsel, although I expect they will be at some point.

 

The Years I Have Been Practicing Various Law Areas in China As A Litigation Lawyer

As a second career attorney, I went solo straight out of law school.

I knew I wanted to do family law and have maintained a practice in that area since.  At this point I am primarily in the appellate court, but undertake a few family law matters from time to time to keep my hand in the practice.

Early on I expanded from trial court work to include divorce mediation and collaborative divorce.  I found many people preferred divorce mediation to the stresses and cost of litigation.  I am an analytical problem solver and found clients appreciated the new options I provide for negotiations and mediation.

I also started with criminal defense as a state appointed attorney.  That provided me with a wonderful opportunity to be before the court on a frequent basis.  I quickly learned that I have no problem appearing before trial judges.

 
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I am a licensed China lawyer. Most clients are foreign nationals and companies. China Lawyer Blog have associates in Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Guangzhou, Suzhou, Nanjing, Qingdao, Fuzhou, Hainan, Hefei, Wuhan, Xian, Changsha, Xiamen and Hangzhou. Learn More

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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.