On 12 January 2017, the UK Society of Chinese Lawyers (UKSCL) held a Chinese New Year reception at the Law Society of England and Wales in Chancery Lane. This is the second year that UKSCL has gathered legal and non-legal professionals to celebrate the Chinese New Year in style. This follows a successful Chinese New Year reception in March 2016, which was co-organised by UKSCL and the Law Society.

Despite the snowy weather and disrupted public transport, the reception was attended by over 100 guests, of which included Counsellor Haitian Lu from the Chinese Embassy, Jingmin Yan, chairman of the UK Association of Chinese Insurance Professionals, representatives from the London Chinese Community Centre as well as top Chinese business people from insurance, banking, architecture and hospitality sectors.

Apart from celebrating the Chinese New Year of Rooster, the other major agenda of the reception was to launch UKSCL’s Pro Bono Legal Service, which will be located at the London Chinese Community Centre. Ms Ruihua Wang, an active UKSCL Committee member and speaker at the reception announced ”The Pro Bono Legal Service will be in the format of a weekly legal clinic manned by one or two members of UKSCL. The type of legal topics to be covered will be largely driven by the needs of the members of the Chinese community, and will likely include immigration, property (purchase, sale and tenancy disputes), family law, setting up a business, civil and criminal court procedures and employment disputes etc.”

Ms Wang went on to explain that the Pro Bono Legal Service will offer free legal advice to the most vulnerable people in the Chinese community, such as the elderly, the disabled, women and children and those who are illiterate in English.

The Pro Bono Legal Service forms part of a series of initiatives which UKSCL has been taking since beginning of 2016:

  • In spring 2016, members of UKSCL published legal guides on the Chinese Embassy’s website, covering a wide range of topics in civil and criminal law, family law, business law and employment law.
  • Over the summer, the Chinese Embassy commissioned UKSCL to put together a data base of Chinese lawyers in the UK in different practice areas, their contact details and the organisations they work for. The data base serves as a first point of reference for the Chinese Embassy when they are approached by Chinese citizens or business for recommendation of lawyers in the UK.
  • Following a brainstorming session among the members of UKSCL in October 2016, it was felt that the members of UKSCL are passionate about giving back to the society by using their experience and knowledge in their practice areas. It was agreed that a good start could be to provide free legal advice to the Chinese community.

The objectives of UKSCL as a not-for-profit organisation established in 2002 by Dr. Xiaojiu Zhu. Most of its 200 plus members are of Chinese ethnicity and are qualified solicitors or barristers in England and Wales. Many members also have been living and working experience in China. The objectives of UKSCL is to promote fellowship and a good understanding between the legal professions in Asia and in the UK by organising regular networking events, panel discussions and other social activities. You can contact UKSCL by visiting the UKSCL website.

The Law Society has been supporting the UKSCL for a number of years and was delighted to be an official supporter of the Chinese New celebration in 2017. We look forward to continuing our engagement with UKSCL in the coming years.

If you are interested in finding out more about the great work carried out by our members you can visit our communities page. If you are interested to find out more about the Law Society’s work between the UK and Asia, you can email Asia@lawsociety.org.uk