Lawyers who help to structure, negotiate and document commercial transactions or deals are often referred to as transactional lawyers. Over the past two decades, law schools and law firms have increasingly focused on educating and training law students and lawyers so that they develop the knowledge and skills necessary to perform effectively as transactional lawyers.
At law schools in jurisdictions such as the US, the UK and Australia, the curriculum has been expanded to include transactional law subjects, where substantive law is taught in a transactional context. To put it differently, students learn about law through transactions instead of learning about transactions through law. Chinese law schools have also started to develop a transactional law focus. For example, Renmin University Law School offers an intensive one-week programme called the Cross-Border Transactional Lawyering Boot Camp, which trains students in practical lawyering skills in English.
At law firms, the professional training programme has been expanded to include professional skills, such as advisory, drafting and negotiation skills, and also commercial awareness. In addition, training in the use of technology has become increasingly important, particularly as lawyers begin to use artificial intelligence in areas such as due diligence and smart contracts (for a discussion about smart contracts, see China Business Law Journal volume 7 issue 8: FinTech and smart contracts).
A former partner of Linklaters Shanghai, Andrew Godwin teaches law at Melbourne Law School in Australia, where he is an associate director of its Asian Law Centre. Andrew’s new book is a compilation of China Business Law Journal’s popular Lexicon series, entitled China Lexicon: Defining and translating legal terms. The book is published by Vantage Asia and available at www.vantageasia.com.