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CHINA: An Introduction to Dispute Resolution: Litigation (PRC Firms)

Teamwork of Chinese Civil and Commercial Litigation Lawyers

In the field of commercial transactions in jurisdictions with more mature legal cultures, the parties are used to engage lawyers to review contracts from the early stage of negotiations to the stage of signing the contract, in order to avoid room for misinterpretation in the future. Stephen J. of Great Britain said that the art of legal drafting does not aim at someone with a benevolent eye to understand it, but someone with a malevolent eye to not distort the interpretation. However, in some areas of Mainland China where the legal environment is not as developed as those in major cities, the parties sometimes accept a less than perfect contract, by reason of their weaker bargaining power. They turn to courts for remedy on any unfair terms in contracts. Different from the British or U.S. systems, there is no solicitor between the client and the litigation lawyers in the Chinese dispute resolution system. The client seeks litigation lawyers' legal service directly in the market instead. Therefore, the function of a litigation lawyer imposes a significant impact on the outcome of a transaction.

I. Chinese legal system and thoughts on civil and commercial case adjudication

China adopts the statute law system as the model of civil and commercial dispute resolution without the doctrine of precedent, though precedents from high-level courts and particularly the Supreme Court have played an increasingly influential role in the judicial practice in recent years. Its sources include various laws, administrative regulations as well as international, bilateral or multilateral treaties where applicable. Judges make decisions according to their own understanding of the laws, combined with the facts proven and legal opinions submitted by disputing parties. It is extremely important that the litigation lawyers can restore the facts of the case in the form of evidence to refute the interpretation of the other party at a court trial.

II. New requirements for litigation lawyers' abilities

Good litigation results are inseparable from the multi-faceted capabilities of litigation lawyers. In addition to professional skills, Chinese lawyers' has begun to subdivide their expertise into different commercial specialisations. The development of legal profession has proposed more new requirements for dispute resolution lawyers in all aspects. Among them, the ability to communicate with customers and the court, the ability to work as a team, the degree of industry understanding and commercial thinking, and the ability to learn quickly are important skills that would affect the outcome of litigations.

1. Lawyers' communication skills

Communication takes up a large proportion of a litigation lawyer’s work. Under Chinese legal and cultural circumstances, it does not merely limited to the communication between lawyers of respective disputing parties. The results of communication with clients and authorities can sometimes lead different directions for the outcome of cases.

In the face of numerous statutory laws and regulations, most parties encounter difficulties in how to express the facts of the case and what evidence should be adduced. Comparing with countries that follow precedents, it is difficult for a Chinese litigation lawyer to predict the outcome when the client first consults a lawyer. Excellent and experienced litigators can grasp the key points of the case from an overall aspect, quickly understand the legal facts through effective communication with their clients, explore their clients' in-depth demands and provide them with a suitable and practical litigation strategy. Furthermore, they would be able to help the client to construct a factual framework to be presented to the court and assist in digging out indirect evidence that the client is not aware of, forming an evidence chain when the direct evidence is insufficient.

At the same time, litigation lawyers also need to maintain positive communication with the court and the lawyers of the other party. In the process of delivering and receiving information, they can also improve litigation strategies and adjust the solution appropriately. During the communication with the court, they have the chance to figure out the court’s understanding of applicable rules and try their best to provide evidence and industrial information that are helpful to the court, especially for cases which are not covered by existing laws, regulations or state standards, or which have very advanced technical or industrial factors.

2. Teamwork skills

According to Chinese procedural law, every party (including a legal person) can only employ a maximum of two lawyers for representation in court. Since the restoration of the Chinese lawyer system around 40 years ago, litigation lawyers mainly rely on improving their own capabilities in a wide range of specialisations to serve more clients. As clients’ requirements involve more specialised, technical and legal knowledge nowadays, it becomes increasingly difficult for lawyers to work on their own. Teamwork and professional integration have become the general trend among the Chinese lawyers’ profession. For law firms which have thorough integrated management, representing less than 5% of the total number of Chinese law firms, lawyers specialise in certain areas of law rather than attempting to keep up in all fields. When specialised knowledge is needed in a field that the lawyers are not familiar with, they seek cooperation from other members of the firm with such specialisation. This is a remarkable new feature among Chinese litigation lawyers in recent years. It is a great benefit for clients who have complicated legal demands, requiring knowledge from multiple fields. Law firms which house multiskilled lawyers and have the ability to integrate them are always the choice among clients. These firms are able to provide support from the entire firm when needed, without significant increases in cost.

III. Realisation of teamwork within an integration law firm

As an example, in Anli Partners, which I have newly joined after working for 18 years in another law firm, many lawyers had worked in industries like press media, vehicle manufacture, real estate companies and others prior to practicing law. Cross-field experience not only brings different perspectives to lawyers in cases, but also helps them to combine legal expertise with previous experience to better understand the in-depth needs of clients. Anli has developed 21 professional centres during its reform in the direction of integration management for the past two years, allowing lawyers to practice in fields where they have expert knowledge. As a reflection of customers’ feedback in 2022, Anli's Beijing office has reached more than 2600 engagement agreements with clients, and 588 of them are with government departments and companies, many of which are global renowned companies, and the number of state-owned central companies is 330.


According to the National Lawyers' Public Legal Service System Construction Plan (2021-2025) released on the official website of the Ministry of Justice of the People's Republic of China on 24th January, 2022, the number of professional lawyers nationwide is expected to reach 750,000 by 2025. However, excellent and professional dispute resolution lawyers are still a scarce resource in the profession. With the gradual improvement of the Chinese legal system and environment, the legal profession faces more complex and severe challenges at the management level of law firms. For the continued improvement of litigation lawyers’ ability as to best protect clients' interests, a better supporting platform for sure plays an increasingly important role.







1. 律师沟通能力




2. 团队协作能力