Culture” is a word that is subject to so many different meanings and interpretations that it has become virtually meaningless. For the purposes of this column, I am defining “culture” broadly to include the factors that affect the way in which people behave and relate to each other. Cross-cultural communications is therefore the way in which we communicate with, and relate to, people from different cultures. I am also including in the definition communication with people from different jurisdictions.
This column focuses on how lawyers communicate with, and relate to, people from different cultures and difference jurisdictions. Increasingly, lawyers operate in a cross-cultural, cross-border context where at least one element is defined by reference to another culture or another jurisdiction. As a result, we find that we often need to deal with clients, lawyers and other parties from cultures that are different from the culture in our home jurisdiction. For example, we may find ourselves acting in a transaction in which an American client is investing in mainland China, or a Singaporean client is investing in Hong Kong. Or it may be a purely domestic transaction, but one in which the client representative is from another country or jurisdiction.
A former partner of Linklaters Shanghai, Andrew Godwin teaches law at Melbourne Law School in Australia, where he is an associate director of its Asian Law Centre. Andrew’s new book is a compilation of China Business Law Journal’s popular Lexicon series, entitled China Lexicon: Defining and translating legal terms. The book is published by Vantage Asia and available at law.asia.