Saturday, January 17, 2009
Legal Ethics Field Trip (From Judy)
Jan. 4th was my last week of class activities at Renda for legal ethics. Legal Ethics ended with a field trip to the Beijing office of Mayer Brown, a US law firm that recently merged with a Chinese firm. The lure of an international firm looms large in the students’ imagination. International firms offer entry to larger salaries and greater growth. But few students had ever stepped inside an international firm. During our Dec. 26th class the students developed questions, which we forwarded to Matthew McConkley and Yanni Song, the two lawyers who had generously agreed to meet with us. On the day of our trip about 18 students met on campus in front of the law school at 8:30 and we took the subway down for our 10:00 meeting. I had done a reconnaissance trip earlier in the week to be sure I knew how to get there.
Matthew and Yanni had set up a conference room and had information about the firm available at every seat. After introductions the conversation began. Questions included the role of the economic crisis on business, how to get business, hiring practices, pro bono, corporate social responsibility, and licensing issues, and the comparative strengths and weaknesses of the training of Chinese and US lawyers. On the subway ride back small groups discussed how the visit added new information and reinforced prior conceptions. As always, the challenge is reminding folks that one description may not be representative of the whole. I’m not sure anyone can give an accurate descriptive picture of the practice of international and comparative law in China at the moment. It is changing too rapidly!