I am interning at Jingsh Law Firm. Jingsh is one of the oldest and most respected law firms in China. Jingsh mainly handles cases in international business law. China operates under the civil law system whereas the U.S. uses the common law. This means that all Chinese law is derived from the written code of laws that the government provides instead of judicial rulings. At Jingsh, I am a personal intern for one of the many attorneys working there and each attorney works quite independently. Michelle, my supervisor, is one of the few employees there who speak English.
During my first few days, things moved quite slowly. On the first day, I was told to “research Chinese contract law” and I saw Michelle for less than fifteen minutes (excluding when she took us out to lunch). As the week went on, Michelle seemed to open up to us and eventually gave us more tangible research to undertake.
On Wednesday around 3 pm, I was getting bored when Michelle came out of her office and gave us a huge case file of forty people who had invested in a company and couldn’t reach them to sell their stocks. She told us to find the company and see how these people could get their money back. I think this is an example of the concept of guanxi first hand. Michelle needed to trust our logic and research skills before she could give us work that she would really need.
The work culture is professional and yet relaxed, which is a prime example of the paradoxical nature of China. There are couches near the offices and I often see people taking naps or scrolling through social media but in general everyone is hard-working. Jingsh is a huge law firm with over 800 employees in the Beijing branch. There is even a cafeteria in the basement of the building. The building itself is beautiful inside. The walk to my desk involves passing a bridge over a koi pond. Many of the lawyers are party members with the Communist Party logo on their door. There is even a giant boardroom with the hammer and sickle logo etched into the roof.