My supervisor, Michelle, is an international attorney. She mainly handles the writing and analyzing of contracts with one party being from China and the other being a foreigner. She spends a lot of time meeting with clients and discussing their cases, often for up to three hours at a time. She is incredibly kind and helpful, ready to respond to any questions Emily or I have about our work. We work in the international department but our team basically consists of Emily, Michelle, and I. Each lawyer operates quite independently in the firm.
My day-to-day routine consists of large tasks that take up huge chunks of time. Michelle will give Emily and I a contract to read over and discuss, and reading through it usually takes up most of the day. Sometimes it will need to be spread over two days because the sections can be so wordy. One example of something we did is that she had a client who was signing a leasing contract for an apartment that she felt wasn’t fair. So, we read through the contract law of China and then read the contract to see in what areas they disagreed. We then had to write a legal opinion on it. I was surprised that tenants have fewer rights in China than the U.S. Michelle will usually discuss our work with us about once a day but all-in-all we hardly ever see her. Most of our communication is done through WeChat.
Something that surprised me about Beijing happened at lunch on Tuesday. Emily and I were in line to buy food and three Chinese women approached us and asked us where we were from. We ended up sitting down with them and discussed why we were in China. What surprised me was that they came up to us, simply starting with “Hello!” and starting a conversation. The people I have seen in China generally keep to themselves and I think a lot of them speak English but aren’t comfortable approaching me. It was nice to talk to someone new that wasn’t one of the twenty-four other Americans on the trip.