Steven Yu, who will be joining us as part of the Chinese delegation at International Marketplace 2015, is a partner at Hiways law firm. He tells us about his legal life in Beijing and the secrets to doing business there.

1.     Why did you decide to become a lawyer?

Before private law practice, I served at the Shanghai World Trade Organisation (WTO) Affairs Consultation Centre, where I advised government agencies, enterprises and industry associations on trade compliance with China’s WTO access. While the newly setup NGO, which was sponsored by the Shanghai Municipal Government, provided a high-profile platform and golden opportunity for me, I felt it was distanced from industry and entrepreneurship. I came to realise that a more challenging position would better fit my abilities and personalities. Thus I joined a law firm, with the belief that I could better serve Chinese companies for their exploration in international markets, while also assisting foreign companies for their business with and/or in China.

2.     Tell us about your firm

Hiways Law Firm was established in 1995 and is headquartered in the Shanghai Lujiazui financial district with a branch in the Beijing CBD area. The firm has grown to be a leading legal service provider in China. We have a crew of more than 200 fee earners. So far, we have provided high level professional services for thousands of renowned corporations.

Service areas covered include: FDI, international trade & customs business, real-estate & infrastructure construction, finance & securities, corporate business, ‘new areas’ (collection & disposition of non-performing loans and accounts receivable, environment protection & new energy, entertainment & mass media etc), intellectual property rights, and dispute settlement.

The philosophy and vision of the firm is ‘to win respect by professional performances and to achieve the ideal through real-world cooperation’. All our services are implemented in light of this philosophy and vision. Our comprehensive knowledge and abundant practical experience ensures high-quality results. Our teamwork spirit guarantees precision and efficiency. We have been committing ourselves to assisting clients to make their blueprint come true, now and forever.

3.     What opportunities are there for UK law firms and their clients in Shanghai?

There are a lot of opportunities in China for UK law firms. As the most dynamic and fast-growing market, China has been of world focus since the beginning of the new century, and Shanghai (including its neighborhood) has grown to be more attractive destination for foreign investment and services. Thus, I wouldn’t be surprised if many dealings of you or your client connect to China in some way, particularly Shanghai. Additionally, Chinese companies and individuals are currently motivated and active in pursuing international markets (including the UK), through many channels including M&A. Following this trend, I see more opportunities to work with UK law firms and their clients in the near future.

4.    What advice would you give to companies new to Shanghai?

Do not lose the golden opportunity to embrace the engine of the world’s economy. China is on her way to build up the rule of law (even if this is not yet) and then it will become no different to any developed market country.

Talk to local sources - including lawyers who know the laws, the practice and the culture in China.

Don’t get frustrated, remain patient and you will soon reap the rewards.

5.     You are part of a delegation of lawyers from China coming to London for our International Marketplace conference – what do you hope to get out of your time at the event?

I hope to talk to professionals and enterprises who have connections with or interest in China. I would like to narrow the gap and explore how we could cooperate to provide better service together to facilitate international clients while managing potential risks. Of course, we would welcome any opportunity to face-to-face discussion with any particular concern or question. I believe this is the best opportunity for UK and Chinese firms to get to know each other, and to establish initial trust as a basis for future cooperation. 

These views are the views of the author and not those of the Law Society.

For more on the Law Society’s work in China, and how we can help you, contact Donna Evans or Sonam Khan.