Cost of keeping clients

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This issue features our annual report on Chinese law firms’ legal services fees. As the economy is under pressure and slowing, the legal departments of many enterprises are keeping a closer eye on their budget control, resulting in fierce competition within the legal services market. Some law firms have therefore reduced their service prices to win clients. Some firms, however, believe low-price competition is harmful. They tend to help clients control budgets by more flexible billing methods, and are winning premium clients by improving their own strengths. You can find their billing strategies in our Survey of Chinese law firms’ billing rates in 2019. A table of law firms’ billing rates is also included in the report.

Another article focuses on Hangzhou, a historical city among eight ancient capitals of China. It has been developing fast with an internet industry in recent years, and has nurtured a number of high-tech companies, including Alibaba. And yet, while the city itself has embraced technological change for its infrastructure and planning, the legal community may have been slower to do so.

Hangzhou Internet Court, the first internet court in the world, as well as the Hangzhou Internet Court of Arbitration, now form an essential part of Hangzhou’s Online Dispute Resolution Mechanism platform to facilitate both users and lawyers, yet some remain resistant to these dramatic online reforms.

Pioneers in the city’s economic development are mostly private, local companies, and likewise, international law firms have very little presence. Tech transition explores how the legal market is developing by interviewing the market leaders, and finds out who they serve, what their clients’ needs are, and what strategies they are adopting to move forward. The large number of internet companies in the city denotes great opportunities for those law firms that adopt expertise in the tech area. Some law firm leaders are attempting to upgrade their lawyers’ knowledge, and they point to a need for more education for lawyers in this regard.

Arbitration – six shades of wisdom features interviews with six leaders of arbitration centres. As China’s commercial interest expands quickly around the globe, cross-border arbitration practice involving Chinese companies is also soaring. Both China’s government and the country’s flagship arbitration centres are making efforts to build a friendly and efficient environment for cross-border arbitration. As the country has also opened its arbitration market, internationally renowned institutions are also ramping up their presence on the mainland.

How will these trends reshape China’s role in the international arbitration landscape? And where may Chinese and Western conventional wisdoms meet in arbitration? The industry’s bigwigs share their insights on such questions.