What does it take to be a top lawyer?


We asked some of our elite A-list lawyers to provide us with keywords that others might use to rise to the top of their game. These were the top five

China Business Law Journal previously selected 100 lawyers working in PRC law firms and 100 lawyers in foreign ones as “legal elites”. We recently sent out a questionnaire on tips for becoming an elite to the lawyers who took out these awards and, based on their replies, we developed our five keywords as a means of inspiration for lawyers keen to emulate these winning professionals.

Beneath each keyword, you’ll find a comprehensive list of factors our award-winning lawyers identified as making them stand out, with a few habits and tips that make up their magic formula for success.

We sorted these replies with a word cloud generator to find out the five most popular keywords and some of their derived habits. The information received was too extensive to be included in its entirety due to space limitations, so our report provides a brief synthesis of insights – but one well worth examining. Does your work strategy have what it takes to become a future elite?


Almost one out of every four answers in our survey mentioned the client, undoubtedly showing that the principle of “customer first” is crucial in the legal profession as well. But what are the core strategies for servicing the client?

(1) Solution-oriented

Sam Boyling, a partner and joint head of office at Pinsent Masons’ Singapore and Beijing offices, says it’s necessary to be fully insightful of clients’ needs from the moment they step into your law firm. “Remember that clients don’t want legal services, they want a positive outcome for their business,” he says.5 keywords for becoming an elite lawyer Paul Li

“Transposition” is one of the high-frequency words used to refer to providing practical solutions. Paul Li, a non-equity partner of Zhong Lun Law Firm in London, says: “Think more from clients’ perspectives and provide legal solutions rather than legal analysis.”

Sometimes law firms should be a step ahead of their clients. Matteo Zhi, a senior partner of D’Andrea & Partners in Shanghai, suggests: “Good lawyers resolve problems, but great lawyers avoid problems.”

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