After extensive research, China Business Law Journal presents its top private practice lawyers for China-related business. Luna Jin reports
It was a year that has stretched even the best of businesses, leaving entire industries and sectors struggling for survival. In the midst of the chaos, the best commercial lawyers have emerged as a force of composure and direction, anchoring their clients with advice and strategies that have smoothed the way through the worst of times.
Increasingly, the value of such professional services is being appreciated. China Business Law Journal conducted its annual survey and received nearly 2,000 recommendations from in-house counsel, business leaders and lawyers. Among them, we selected 200 elite lawyers for China-related practice, including 100 lawyers working in PRC firms and 100 in foreign firms.
A considerable number of nominations spared no words in expressing their gratitude and appreciation. The relationship between lawyers and in-house counsel, by virtue of these sincere accounts, is becoming stronger than the conventional definition, perhaps a result of being there for their clients when the chips were down.
The legal community is built on professionalism. As repeatedly refined terms in contracts, as delicate exchanges at the negotiation table, this professionalism forges experience and decisiveness that helps steer businesses through adversity.
As a legal expert in the culture, entertainment and media industry, Cherry Guo, a Beijing-based senior partner at Tiantai Law Firm, is recommended by Dong Peng, general counsel of KuGou, and Shi Xian, director of the legal department at CCTV Animation Group.
“[Guo has] unique experience on music, content and digital practice,” says Xue Jingmei, a senior counsel at Apple (China).
In the field of asset management and asset securitization, Wang Cheng, executive director of the investment banking department at CICC, was impressed by Qin Maoxian, a partner based in Beijing and Shanghai at Jingtian & Gongcheng, for his outstanding achievements and clear judgment. “In recent years, Qin has completed a number of asset securitisation projects with wide influence in the industry, showing exceptional professionalism and his client-oriented service philosophy,” says Wang.
The best lawyers in the industry often master knowledge beyond jurisdictions. In the area of antitrust and data protection, Michael Hu, general manager at JCDecaux China, says of Zhou Zhaofeng, the Beijing-based managing partner of Fieldfisher China: “He is one of the few Chinese lawyers who can advise clients on international scope. For example, he has advised us on GDPR [the EU General Data Protection Regulation] and Chinese data protection law.”
From the same field, Ken Dai, a partner at Dentons based in Shanghai, attaches great importance to transforming professional knowledge into suggestions that companies can actually implement. “Dai is one of our most trusted external lawyers,” says Yang Hualong, general counsel, Asia, for Mettler-Toledo.
“For the past years we have engaged him and his team for providing advice and guidance,” he says. “We appreciated very much Dai’s, and his team’s, great response and high quality. Dai is always energetic and supportive, and providing you with pragmatic advice to help you carry on.”
In terms of dispute resolution and debt disposal, Xu Bangwei, a partner at Jingtian & Gongcheng based in Beijing and Guangzhou, is recommended as “the top lawyer in the industry”, and what impresses his clients most is his determination.
Zhang Tingting, director of the legal department at Sinovac Biotech, says: “Xu is elegant, optimistic and confident, with spot-on analysis on cases, always to the point. He is abundant in practical experience and a bold decision-maker, and can give clients comprehensive, objective and pertinent legal opinions.”