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Goodbye Beijing 北京再见

Hong Kong International Airport
Hong Kong International Airport

My time in Beijing has come to an end.  It has been an unforgettable summer and I hope this blog has helped you experience life as a law student at Peking University and a Summer Associate.  I would like to thank Natalie Gilkison and Katherine Wozniak at UMKC’s International Academic Programs for the opportunity to write on this website.  It’s been an absolute pleasure.  For my final blog post, I thought it would be a good idea to write about a few of my favorite places and last events in Beijing.  If you have any questions about the Summer Program at the law school or Beijing, please send me an email.  Or, as you would do in China, add me on WeChat (username: thekeithkelly).

Qianmen & Forbidden City
Qianmen & Forbidden City

The photo on the left is the view from Capital M, one of my favorite places in Beijing.  The final Sunday of each month Time Out Beijing hosts free film screenings that highlight China’s best films.  I attended two screenings and watched Still Life (2007) and Suzhou River (2000).  Both were great, as was the view.  The photo to the right is the moat around The Forbidden City.  This area is connected to Tiananmen Square and very popular with tourists.  The Chinese love walls and sometimes they look nice.

Great Wall of China
Great Wall of China

My co-workers and I set out one Saturday morning towards Longqing Gorge, just north of Beijing.  Unfortunately, due to heavy rain it was closed for the weekend.  We did not become aware of this until already on a public bus headed that direction.  Fortunately, it was also in the same direction as the Badaling portion of the Great Wall.  I hadn’t been to this area, which is the most popular with tourists.  It made an excellent second choice.  We hiked so many steps and got the photo on the right.  After, a couple of us got Traditional Chinese Medicine massages and cupping treatment.  The masseur even knew I was fond of spicy food – just from examining my legs and feet!

Sampling Baijiu at Capital Spirits
Sampling Baijiu at Capital Spirits

We convinced two co-workers to come to a Baijiu bar so we could finally try it.  Baijiu is a Chinese liquor that is very strong (often 56% alcohol by volume) but is the most popular liquor in the world.  I have heard bars in New York and Los Angeles have started to sell it.  It is wildly popular with Chinese businessmen and blue collar workers alike.  Capital Spirits specializes in baijiu and we tried many kinds.  My American co-worker (Jessica) even tried snake wine.  I am terrified and did not.

Great Leap Brewing
Great Leap Brewing

Beijing has started to embrace the craft brew trend.  We tried as many as possible this summer but I think my two favorites are Great Leap Brewing (pictured here) and 京-A.  Great Leap has three locations around Beijing and is very popular with expats and a growing number of locals.  This location (near Sanlitun) serves a beer called Honey Ma Gold, which is infused with Sichuan peppercorn.  I love it!  They also have great burgers.

Broadway Cinematheque MOMA
Broadway Cinematheque MOMA

Broadway Cinematheque MOMA is an ultramodern movie theater in Beijing.  It is located inside a modern apartment complex and surrounded by water.  There is also an underground amphitheater in the complex.  The theatre primarily shows Chinese arthouse films.  I came to see a film called Kaili Blues, which was great.

CCTV Building and Sheppard Mullin
CCTV Building and Sheppard Mullin

Two of my favorite views in Beijing: the CCTV Headquarters and my desk at Sheppard Mullin.  The view on the left is from the 80th floor of China World Offices (Building 1).  The CCTV Building is one of my favorite modern designs.  The locals don’t care for it much and have given it the nickname “underpants” (it looks like two legs…).  The photo on the right is me at my desk at Sheppard Mullin.  I spent many hours there this summer and will miss it dearly.

Farewell dinner
Farewell dinner

A few of my co-workers and I walked to this very old restaurant in the Guomao area of Beijing for dinner.  The food is very traditional Beijing style and was fantastic.  The restaurant had live birds inside (in cages) and they were not shy.  A standout was a cabbage dish that tasted like it was cooked on an open flame with wood.  Also, Mapo Tofu — always a favorite of mine!

Beijing Subway
Beijing Subway

This photo hopefully gives you an idea of how packed the subway can get.  This is a pretty normal struggle during peak travel times.  Above ground, Beijing was very hot this summer.  Below ground, even hotter.  The subway system is extremely clean, cheap, and efficient.  It can also feel like an amusement park ride with this number of passengers.

Lunch Meetings in Beijing

Summer Associates Happy Hour
Summer Associates Happy Hour

Checking in again from Beijing, China. To read previous posts, please click here. The past couple weeks have been pretty busy here as a Summer Associate at Sheppard Mullin. We have a lot of interesting clients and legal matters both in China and America. I have been researching quite a lot on entertainment matters (particularly China’s rapidly growing film industry) and have been lucky to meet executives in the film industry here. I will have a blog post to share on that shortly.

I had the chance to meet up with some of the students from the Peking University summer program and tour the United States Embassy here in Beijing. It is the second largest US Embassy in the world and has an amazing art collection (even a Jeff Koons). We were able to speak with a Foreign Service Officer and get information on public sector work. Thanks to Professor Lehr-Lehnardt for arranging the visit.

Another exciting event was a speech by David Shambaugh on the future of China. He has a new book out and the discussion was both timely and engaging. I also got the opportunity to attend a lunch networking event at the American Chamber of Commerce China’s office with my fellow Summer Associates. The guest speaker was Randal Phillips, former Chief CIA and director of National Intelligence. His insight on Chinese politics and the corporate environment here was exceptional. Lastly, I had the privilege of attending another AmCham lunch event with White House IP Enforcement Coordinator, Danny Marti. Intellectual Property is a pressing issue everywhere, particularly in China. Business executives from American companies were in attendance and the discussion was largely a briefing of what’s to come and addressing the challenges of enforcing IP in China.

Practical Skills Training School for Rural Women
Practical Skills Training School for Rural Women

In other news, our office had the great privilege of visiting the Changping Practical Skills Training Center for Rural Women outside of Beijing to donate a ping pong table. It was an absolute pleasure touring the school and learning about its history. The school provides female students from poor, rural areas an opportunity to learn a vocational skill, giving them a life changing shot at meaningful employment. We had a chance to meet with some students and take a few photos. It is an outstanding program that is wholly funded by donations from around the world (even Mike Tyson recently contributed). It is a program that I plan to stay involved with in some capacity and must thank Jiamu Sun in our office for putting the event together.

Touring the school
Touring the school

That’s about all for now. I have a few weeks left in Beijing and hope to make the most of each day. Please check back for more.

Summer Legal Associate in Beijing

Sheppard MullinWith former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright

Now that the program at Peking University has concluded, I have started working as a Summer Associates at Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton’s office in Beijing. Sheppard Mullin is an American law firm with headquarters in California and offices around the globe. The Beijing office does work in a wide variety of practice areas including Corporate, Intellectual Property, Antitrust, and Entertainment.

I feel very lucky to be working alongside a team of very bright Chinese attorneys. Partners James Zimmerman and Scott Palmer are leaders in their fields and Special Counsel Becky Koblitz is an expert in Antitrust law. Needless to say, it has been a great experience, thus far. Mr. Zimmerman is also the current Chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce China, which has provided additional opportunities to learn from and network with business executives navigating the complexities of doing business in China.

My second week at the firm featured events with former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright (pictured above) and a reception for the Shanghai International Film Festival with Robb Klein who heads up the firm’s entertainment practice. Both were insightful discussions touching on legal issues that I care deeply about.

I am also fortunate to work alongside other talented Summer Associates from the United States. I wanted to give you a chance to learn a little about each of us.

Beijing, ChinaCelebrating the 4th of July with AmCham China in Beijing

Betsy Tao
Indiana University Maurer School of Law
Rising 3L JD/MBA
Legal Interest Area: Intellectual Property and Technology

Why did you come to China: My law school sponsors a global summer internship program to send IU students into summer positions around the world. I applied to the China placement because I was interested in working for a US-based firm on international intellectual property issues.

What has surprised you most about China: Beijing is a just a very large Chinese city. As one of the largest cities in the world, I expected to find a more global atmosphere, specifically in terms of food, language, and daily interactions. There are Western influences like American fashion brands and modern office buildings, but Beijing remains deeply true to its own culture, history, and traditions, even as it grows as a global center of commerce.

Would you recommend a summer associate position in China to an American law student? YES! Any chance you have to live and work outside your home base will broaden your experiences and perspective. China is an interesting legal market, and many firms here work for international and/or global clients. Intellectual property is an especially interesting practice area in China because of the cultural and political differences from the United States on the concept and enforcement of intellectual property. Having the ability to research global issues, communicate with colleagues and clients from other cultures, and navigate a foreign legal market and foreign city are all skills that will make you a better lawyer. And—it’s an adventure!

Advice on working in China: Practice Mandarin! Your office may or may not use English, and you will not be able to speak English in most restaurants, stores, or taxis. Try to learn at least a few basic phrases. Do your research about the practice area in which you will be working before you leave; know what resources you will and will not be able to access on the Chinese internet. Be open-minded – try new experiences and new foods; travel around the city and the country, if possible; embrace the difference in the local culture; and look at your experience as a grand adventure (it is!).

Xiao Ma (肖)
Indiana University Maurer School of Law
Rising 3L
Legal Interest Area: Dispute Resolution

Why did you come to China?
To get an experience of working in an Am100 law firm.

What has surprised you most about China?
The fast-growing Chinese legal market.

Would you recommend a summer associate position in China to an American law student?
For those who may have an interest in practicing International law, the knowledge of China, especially Beijing, would be a great fortunate for your career.  There are some things you just cannot learn from a book or others, you need to see and feel by yourself.  For those who just want to practice domestic transactional work, a summer in Beijing would also be very helpful.  Sino-American business will take a big portion of the American legal market in future, some basic understanding of Chinese business and Chinese law can be help you stand out during the recruiting season.

Ryan Chan
University of San Francisco School of Law
Rising 2L

I came to China because in college I’ve always wanted to study abroad either in Beijing, China, or Hong Kong. Moreover, since I am Chinese, I have always wanted to learn more about my own culture/history. I also feel most comfortable here.

What surprised me most about China would be the pollution and language barrier. As I have heard before arriving, China’s pollution is terrible but it is another thing to see it in person. The pollution looks worse than the fog in Daly City, CA. Coming to China, I thought I could easily communicate with other Chinese people. However, Cantonese is very different from Beijing’s Mandarin.

I would recommend a summer associate position in China to an American law student only if the firm is an American law firm. I can’t imagine working in a Chinese law firm if everyone there speaks Mandarin.

Maria Crespo
University of San Francisco School of Law
LLM IP, Mexico
Legal Interest Area: International Transactions, International Intellectual Property

Why did you come to China: Sheppard and Mullin offered a unique opportunity to expand my international transactions background and knowledge in Intellectual Property (Trademark) law with Chinese legal exposure.

What has surprised you most about China: The culture is amazing, cuisine, music, architecture, to mention some.

Would you recommend a summer associate position in China to an American law student?  I strongly recommend a summer associate experience in China, and strongly recommend Sheppard and Mullin as a supportive and educational experience. My experience at Sheppard and Mullin is had been great, it is a pleasure to have such a smart team. I learned the Chinese legal process in trademarks, and how to understand the Chinese cases. Sheppard and Mullin’s employees were very helpful for me to accomplish this goal.

Olivia Sullivan
Loyola University Chicago School of Law
Rising 2L
Legal Interest Area:  International law- commercial litigation

Why did you come to China: I came to China because I took an introduction to Chinese law course at Loyola and was intrigued by both their legal system and culture. I’ve always been interested in international law and China is the place where many companies are taking their business so it seemed like the best place to get experience. China is also a great place to experience new culture and really good food.

What has surprised you most about China: We were told over and over again in our Chinese law course that the laws in China were vague and overbroad, it isn’t until you start reading and interpreting the Chinese laws for clients that you really realize how vague they really are. It makes practicing law here a lot more complex. I’m also surprised how many weird bathrooms there are and how delicious lizard wine is.

Would you recommend a summer associate position in China to an American law student? I would recommend a summer associate position in China 10 times out of 10. The work is engaging and very different from anything you will get to do in the US. Very few other summer associate positions will offer you challenging legal work while also immersing you in a whole new culture. Also, it doesn’t hurt to have something really interesting to talk about during an interview!

Jessica Peterson
Loyola University Chicago School of Law
Rising 2L
Legal Interest Area: antitrust, corporate, international

Why did you come to China: I studied Chinese language at Michigan, and since studying abroad in China in college, I’ve wanted to work for a global law firm in a different country. When I got the opportunity to work at Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton, LLP in Beijing, China, I immediately took it, as it allowed me to do exactly what I’ve wanted to do. This job has not let me down! Working and living in Beijing, meeting expats, attending AmCham China events and hanging out with my co-workers has been so fun and such a great experience!

What has surprised you most about China: How crunchy the scorpions at Wangfujing Snack Street were. But on a more serious note, I was surprised by how accepting the Chinese people are of foreigners. Any time I’ve talked with a Chinese person, in English or in broken Chinese, they’ve always been very kind, willing to help. Another thing I was surprised about was how I’ve never felt unsafe in Beijing, even walking around at night. My apartment is pretty far outside of the city center (between the 5th and 6th rings), and no one speaks any English where I live, but I’ve never felt as though I were in any danger, and most people want me to help them learn English and they’ll help me with a few words in Chinese.

Would you recommend a summer associate position in China to an American law student? YES! Absolutely! We not only do very interesting work, but we are treated like attorneys rather than associates. I have been given work that is given to the client. It is satisfying knowing that I’m doing something that could have an impact. Additionally, working in an American firm in China is such a unique experience, as we are both using what we’ve learned about US law, and learning different areas of Chinese law. It is very interesting to compare and contrast the two legal systems and analyze them side by side.

Keith Kelly
University of Missouri – Kansas City School of Law
Rising 2L
Legal Interest Area: Intellectual Property, Entertainment

Why did you come to China: I am intrigued by China and its evolving legal system. I took the opportunity to study comparative law at Peking University this summer and was fortunate to secure a position as a Summer Associate at Sheppard Mullin. There may not be a more exciting place in the world for entertainment law than China right now. Their film industry is set to surpass Hollywood by 2017 while facing unprecedented levels of IP issues. Also, the food.

What has surprised you most about China: The amount of people in Beijing. They are everywhere. I have lived in New York City for most of my adult life and am generally accustomed to big cities. Beijing is on a completely different level. Subway rides during my morning commute are both exciting and absurd. Also, the people here are extremely nice. All 1.3 billion of them!

Would you recommend a summer associate position in China to an American law student? Yes, without a doubt. Regardless of what kind of law you plan to practice, you will deal with China at some point. It is an extremely fast growing economy that is vastly different from the United States politically and legally. I can’t imagine a better place to learn from some of the best attorneys in the world while also being immersed in a wholly foreign culture. If you want to be challenged and truly learn, China is the place you need to be.

Chinese Law Clerks

Jianzhong Huang
Hometown: Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region
Law School of Tsinghua
Recently graduated with Master’s Degree.

Why did you decide to become an attorney: When I was considering what major to choose after I graduated from high school, someone (I can’t remember who he is) told me that being a lawyer will bring me endless money.

What do you like most about law in China: we don’t need to follow precedent cases.

What do you like most about US law: It is practical.

What is it like working at an American law firm in Beijing: Respected

Zhihua Zhou
Hometown: Henan Province
China University of Political Science and Law
Year In School: From 2014 to 2017

Why did you decide to become an attorney: I think it’s exciting to see different cases everyday, and you can give a resolution from the legal perspective.

What do you like most about law in China: It’s changing fast, and heading to the right direction.

What do you like most (and least) about US law: It’s precise. I think, it’s like the judge will create a formula to decide a case.

What is it like working at an American law firm in Beijing: I don’t have to worry about trying to impress my boss or colleagues all the time. I only need to do my job well.

Tiananmen Square, The Great Wall and Beyond!

The Great Wall of China

A bit of a delayed post here from Beijing. Our program is essentially two parts; first we study for three weeks at Peking University and then have an optional externship program for the remainder of the summer. I am participating in both and will keep you abreast of what life is like both as a student and summer associate at an American law firm in China.

Peking University is the most prestigious school in China. That may be an understatement. People literally line up outside the gates of the university to take pictures. Yes, there are gates. We have class each day for roughly four hours and then go on cultural trips in and around Beijing.

Something most people may not know is that law is a relatively new concept in China and is developing rapidly. The People’s Republic of China was founded in 1949 and the bulk of China’s law began only 30 years ago. For an ancient country with so much history, its law is very new. It is an exciting time for legal issues in China since so many of the policies are currently under reform. The country is making great strides in a variety of legal matters, but predictably in a country with over 1.3 billion people, change is not always fast. Below are two recent courses we have covered with brief recaps to give you a gist of what is happening and where things are headed.

Contract law: very new concept in China that has been essential to its economic growth. Contract law allows for foreign investment (big deal) but also domestic business partnerships between farmers and urbanities. People no longer need to exclusively do business with those whose families they know, trust, etc. Great for business!

Criminal law: obviously very important and developing. Major differences between China and the United States include: 1) China does not follow common law; thus, no case law; 2) China’s Supreme People’s Court is made up of over 700 justices and hears cases on a wide variety of issues; 3) judges in China do not write public opinions; and 4) there are over 3,000 “basic” courts in China and over 700 “intermediate” courts. A huge challenge for China is interpretation of laws since its judges do not have precedent or explanations from lawmakers. The courts use a handful of non-binding “guiding cases” as a roadmap, but outcomes can vary widely depending on location.

Recent cultural trips of note include Tiananmen Square, National Center for Performing Arts (The Egg), Summer Palace, and The Great Wall.

Forbidden City

Tiananmen Square is probably the most famous location in Beijing. It is an essential stop for anyone visiting. During our visit, the square unexpectedly closed and we were quickly ushered away. Bonus excitement! It is enormous and looks even bigger when completely empty.

National Center for Performing Arts

National Center for Preforming Arts (The Egg) is an ultramodern structure built for performing arts. It is located just behind Tiananmen Square and is representative of “New China”; very modern and sleek. I was fortunate enough to see the Philadelphia Philharmonic there.

Summer Palace

The Summer Palace is a sprawling palace and lake located North of Beijing near Peking University. We wandered around the lake, checked out the impressive structures and meticulously kept gardens. It is a nice, leisurely visit that is very popular with locals and tourists.

The Great Wall of China

Last but not least, The Great Wall of China. It is about 2 hours outside the city and is accessible from many locations on the wall. We went on a Saturday and hiked around for several hours. Words don’t do it justice. Definitely a must-see if you are in China.

Stay tuned for more adventures and a peek into what it is like to be a summer associate in Beijing!