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More Citizens Hiring Private Attorneys

More than one-third of city residents who took part in a recent poll say they plan to hire a personal lawyer in the next five years.

While only 15 percent of the city’s residents now use an attorney, the apparent inclination to use lawyers could be seen as another indicator of the city’s economic progress.

As more people earn more, have bigger homes and expand their investment portfolios, they are taking new steps to protect their growing assets, which include cars.

The poll was conducted over the past two months by the Horizon Research Co for the Shanghai Bar Association. Some 500 private citizens, 400 companies and 100 lawyers took part.

It was the first public opinion survey in China that attempts to identify the demand for legal service by ordinary Chinese people, according to the bar association.

“The desire to have a personal attorney on retainer is a new development over just the past two years,” said Qian Dazhi of the bar association.

“It signifies the development of domestic legal services and people’s increasing awareness of the law.”

Nearly half of the companies interviewed employ staff legal counsel. The private individuals who do so are in higher-income brackets and include owners of private companies and successful stock traders.

“The typical retainer runs from 600 yuan (US$72) to 1,000 yuan a month, which allows only for routine consulting and does not include special services, such as business negotiations or lawsuits,” said Liu Chunquan, an attorney with the city’s Hualian law firm.

The poll found that most people want lawyers to provide professional consultation on three kinds of problems: home purchases, labor disputes and injury cases.

A quarter of those surveyed say they would use their attorney primarily to settle real estate disputes.

“I pay 2,000 yuan a month, but it is quite worthwhile,” said a local clerk-turned-stock-trader.

(eastday.com 11/02/2000)

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