What makes you tick?

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What makes a successful law firm? Or a winning in-house counsel? The legal profession enlists the country’s brightest minds and, by its nature, often engages these minds in intense competition not seen in many other professions. This issue, we talk to law firms and in-house counsel about everything from the secrets to their success, to their business strategies, and how they structure fee models for clients.

CBLJ2103 coverTo control costs, more companies are adopting reverse auctions to pick their legal providers. Some law firms are making every effort to win bids at ever lower prices, while others are choosing to stay out of a low-price competitive spiral, believing that low-cost offers are market killers in the long run and, more importantly, irresponsible to their clients.

Our cover story, Tight times, features our annual report on Chinese legal service fees, with a table of 30 law firms’ billing rates included. In the report, managing partners from law firms of all sizes reveal how they adjust their billing strategies to do business in what is a buyer’s market, while general counsel share what legal services they are willing to pay for, and what qualities they look for in their external legal representatives. The report is a must read for anyone with an interest in China’s legal services market.

In Learning on the fly, we zoom into the aviation industry, which is widely believed to one of hardest hit by the pandemic. Interestingly, there were blessings to be counted in business aviation, as more high net worth individuals (HNWIs) chose to buy private jets to meet their travel needs when traditional flights shut down.

Minsheng Financial Leasing, one of Asia’s largest business aviation leasing companies, while making the best of this opportunity, has also had to handle its fair share of turbulence. Fiona Sun, the senior legal counsel of the aviation giant, offered us a co-pilot’s seat to view the challenges she managed in keeping the business on a steady course.

This issue we also take you to Jiangsu, on China’s eastern central coast, a province that is playing all the right notes to corner eastern China’s legal market, including the establishment of a Third Circuit Court and other specialised courts and tribunals. Jiangsu on song examines the legal market of this top economic performer among the provinces, with partners from major local law firms introducing the most promising industries of the area, and how they are boosting their practices. Also up for discussion is the heavy competition with big national law firms eager for a slice of business in the province.

Turning to competition of a different nature, hear the opinions of the recent winners of China Business Law Journal’s in-house awards on the strategies and practices that helped them along their way to the winner’s circle. Most of them highlighted a transformation in their role from that of legal adviser to business partner in recent years, with a deeper involvement in business operations and company strategy. As the role of an in-house counsel evolves, the skills needed to be a successful general counsel are changing, too. How to be a successful in-house counsel compiles the most popular tips from our winners on what will help a modern GC stand out.