Name: Chi Susheng
Occupation: licensed attorney in Qiqihar, Heilongjiang Province
NPC deputy of Heilongjiang delegation to the Ninth NPC and being reelected as deputy of the 10th NPC.
Suggestions taken to the ongoing session: Chi pointed out that the legal service market in China should be scrutinized, saying that the daily life of Chinese now increasingly involves attorneys. However, there are two parallel legal service systems in China: law firms and legal service offices. The latter was adopted to meet past strong demand for legal personnel.
She pointed out that some legal service offices now actually offer paid services despite the Attorney Law stipulating that only attorneys can do that. Their functions can be similar but the requirements they need to meet are different.
The National Judicial Exam, organized by the Ministry of Justice, is a required qualification for attorneys. Only those with university degrees or above can register for it. In order to ensure the quality of legal personnel, the exam is quite difficult. Last year, only 20,000 people, about 11 percent of participants, passed the exam.
However, those with junior college educations can work in government legal service offices without passing the exam.
Direct competition with attorneys from legal service offices is not only unfair, but lowers overall standards of legal services.
Chi has submitted similar suggestions to the NPC for seven consecutive years. Fortunately, her suggestions have received great attention from the government. Last year, the Ministry of Justice issued two regulations to restrict the development of legal service offices and gradually abolish them in large and medium-sized cities. However, she says that completely abolishing legal service offices would end the disorder and ensure better quality of legal services.
Chi also urges government to give more specific regulations on legal aid work. Currently, all licensed attorneys are asked to provide legal aid for the underrepresented as Chi and her many colleagues have done many public-interest cases in previous years. However, Chi says that the current regulation is too general and more articles should be added in order to make it more applicable and practical. For example, the term “underrepresented” should be precisely defined.
(China.org.cn by staff reporter Tang Fuchun, March 9, 2005)