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Lawyers Plays Increasing Role in Legislation
During the past two years, whenever China's Supreme People's Court (SPC) was drafting regulations or legal explanations, He Baojian, director of an east China Zhejiang-based law firm, was in Beijing without fail.

A large number of lawyers in China are now being involved in lawmaking and He Baojian is just one of them, said Li Fan, deputy director of the research office under the SPC.

Li said it has become common practice for the SPC to consult with lawyers when drafting regulations and legal explanations.

"As a growing, vital force in the judicial circle, the opinions of practicing lawyers are very important to us," he said.

China resumed its lawyer system in 1979. Now, more than two decades later, it has over 110,000 practicing lawyers and 9,000 law firms -- and the numbers are still growing.

Li's office is responsible for drafting regulations for the SPC. According to Chinese law, the SPC is authorized to make regulations and legal explanations to facilitate law enforcement.

During the process of law making, parties including government departments, law professors and experts in related fields, are consulted, Li said.

Suggested changes to a draft can be quite significant, and some are made based on the interests of relevant departments, he said.

But lawyers, above all, stand for the public interest, so their suggestions are usually more objective, pragmatic and just, Li said.

Since lawyers work on the front line of judicial practice, he noted, they see the flaws of existing laws more clearly than law professors.

In addition to the SPC, China's top legislature, the National People's Congress (NPC), also has more frequent contact with lawyers.

Before being tabled to the NPC or its Standing Committee, many drafts, such as contract and criminal laws, have been revised in line with lawyers' suggestions, according to staffers of the Commission of Legislative Affairs of the NPC Standing Committee.

Earlier this year, the people's congress of southwest China's Chongqing municipality even entrusted a local law firm to draft a regulation on real estate management.

Chinese lawyers are now having more influence on China's legal system construction and social services, said He Baojian, also the secretary general of the Civil Litigation Committee under the All-China Lawyers Association.

Participation in lawmaking and other social work would improve lawyers' social status and influence, he added, and at the same time enhance their sense of honor and responsibility.

(Xinhua News Agency December 19, 2002)

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