A visit to China by a group of seven young New Zealand lawyers in August was an excellent chance for an introduction to the Chinese legal system.
From 13 to 23 August, with the support of the New Zealand China Friendship Society, I organised a delegation of young lawyers from a variety of dispute resolution backgrounds to go on a ten-day trip to visit law firms and explore the legal profession in China.
The goal of the trip was to increase cultural competence within the profession and highlight the incredible opportunities that exist overseas for the next generation of New Zealand’s legal profession.
Our delegation was led by Heida Donegan, senior counsel at Kensington Swan, and head of the firm’s China Business team.
Here we participated in roundtables with the Beijing Lawyers Association and Beijing People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, along with further seminars at The China University of Political Science and Law, Guantao Law Firm, and the New Zealand Embassy. These opportunities provided a fantastic overview of the Chinese legal system and allowed for a valuable comparison between the role of lawyers both in New Zealand and overseas.
We were also invited to visit the Beijing International Arbitration Centre where we participated in roundtable events.
Here we liaised with the New Zealand Consulate and participated in engagements with the consul-general, NZTE, Zespri; the world’s largest marketer of kiwifruit, Rouse; an IP services business focused on emerging markets, and international gym giant Les Mills.
These engagements focused predominantly on emerging issues of intellectual property within the Chinese market.
We also had the opportunity to visit Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre. The overall theme of the roundtables at both city’s Arbitration Centres was the increased prevalence of arbitration as a mechanism for dispute resolution.
Our trip was an eye-opening experience. We came back with a great introductory understanding of the Chinese legal system and what’s on offer to young legal professionals in the country.
Sam Macintosh is an LLB/BA student at Victoria University of Wellington and a New Zealand Law Society Legal Administrator.