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Lawyers Should Improve to Follow Global Criteria: Experts
Faced with the potential competition from their foreign counterparts, Chinese lawyers would be well-advised to familiarize themselves with the basic principles of international trade in order to ensure their market share, experts said.

Tian Wenchang, who prepared China's first lawyers' manual for handling criminal cases and is also director of Beijing's King & Capital Lawyers, said it is urgent that Chinese lawyers, following China's accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO), acquire and improve basic legal skills and operational practices.

The most economical method and the best first step is to invite western lawyers to China to introduce their successful experience, said Tian.

China's lawyers have realized WTO accession will bring about tense competition from foreign lawyers, while the profession is still in its infancy.

Though their professional proficiency is second to none, Chinese lawyers may still be in an unfavorable position when vying with foreign peers due to a lack of basic operational skills in international business, according to Tian.

Tian said that if they desire to set foot in foreign-related business, Chinese lawyers must have the ability to write legal documents using universal criteria.

Legal documents below standard can only bring barriers, which will isolate Chinese lawyers from the international mainstream and end in distrust and rejection among clients, he said.

China currently has only about 2,000 lawyers capable of handling legal affairs smoothly in foreign languages, which is less than a two-thousandth of its 120,000 or so total lawyers.

According to China's legal services commitments on WTO accession, Chinese and foreign lawyers will compete mainly in non-active legal business, such as giving advice, rather than appearing before courts.

The short history of the profession is another important reason Chinese lawyers have not yet fully joined the ranks of world lawyers, said Gong Sha, executive director and board member of Beijing Lawyers Association.

Legal experts call for setting specific criteria for lawyers of different professions as operational guidelines, which is considered the most urgent task for the country.

(Xinhua News Agency December 30, 2002)

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