CLIENT CHOICE来自客户的褒奖与认可,是律师获得的最暖心殊荣。我们从今年的1800余份调查问卷中发现,客户对律师的评价非常多维和细致。ALB采访了今年上榜的几位首选律师。

 

以下获奖名单按姓氏字母顺序。The winners are listed below in alphabetical order by last name.

陈进进 Chen Jinjin
竞天公诚律师事务所 Jingtian & Gongcheng

唐周俊 Tang Zhoujun
中伦律师事务所 Zhong Lun Law Firm

陈一敏 Chen Yimin
嘉源律师事务所 Jia Yuan Law Offices

王悦 Jason Wang
环球律师事务所 Global Law Office

戴凌云Dai Lingyun
通商律师事务所 Commerce & Finance Law Offices

吴小亮 Wu Xiaoliang
上海澄明则正律师事务所 CM Law Firm

董亮Lyon Dong
万商天勤律师事务所 V&T Law Firm

吴延凯Eric Wu
瑞格律师事务所 Ropes & Gray

傅钢Fu Gang
协力律师事务所 Co-effort Law Firm

夏锋 Jerry Xia
安杰律师事务所 AnJie Law Firm

冯晓奕Feng Xiaoyi
国浩律师事务所 Grandall Law Firm

杨关善 Yang Guanshan
北京大成律师事务所 Beijing Dentons Law Offices,

姜玮Jiang Wei
观韬中茂律师事务所 Guantao Law Firm

杨锦文 Yang Jinwen
君合律师事务所 JunHe

李磊Li Lei
盛德国际律师事务所 Sidley Austin

杨曙光 Yang Shuguang
安理律师事务所 Anli Partners

李琳琳 Li Linlin
兰台律师事务所 Lantai Partners

张淼 Zhang Miao
浩天信和律师事务所 Hylands Law Firm

黎学宁 Li Xuening
中伦文德律师事务所 Zhonglun W&D Law Firm

张婷 Zhang Ting
北京道可特律师事务所 Beijing Docvit Law Firm

在这个生活、工作等方方面面都被新技术和新理念重塑的时代,律师们发现,今天,客户对于“好律师”和“好的法律服务体验”的定义也在不断改变。尤其受到今年疫情影响,伴随法律服务模式的变化,律师也对自身职业产生了更多思考。

与此同时,作为社会最后一道防线的“看门人”,在不断革新服务的同时,律师也在不变地秉承着不同于其他行业的职业道德和行为准则,甚至社会责任。

ALB今年的调研中,几个新关键词频繁出现在了客户对律师的评价中。对于客户的“新标准”,律师又是如何看的?

“专家型律师”崛起

Methodology ZH今年上榜的20位律师,几乎都是深谙某个行业或商业领域的专家。在调查中,客户对于上榜律师对某行业的深刻理解褒奖有加,尤其他们对于领域内新监管、业务趋势的掌握,很多时候甚至能在新项目上引领客户。

这些年,“专家型律师”的字眼频繁出现在法律市场中。“你会看到越来越多的主流律师聚焦在一个或几个行业、业务领域,利用法律专业和对行业理解的复合经验优势,才能真正领会客户痛点。”浩天信和律师事务所合伙人张淼律师说。

 “专家型律师”似乎意味着,律师在法律专业外,还要拥有行业专家和商业专家两个新身份。

在中伦律师事务所合伙人唐周俊律师看来,专家型律师的出现,归根结底源于律师服务的要义在于交付结果。

“以最小成本解决客户诉求几乎是所有客户对律师的终极期待,律师必须以解决客户的诉求为目标,而法律只是解决诉求的方法之一。”他说,“脱离了客户商业诉求的法律论证是没有价值的。”

因此,唐律师认为律师在法律之外,也要“时刻关注国家政策走势、宏观经济走向、社会热点、企业营商环境变化等方面的动态,同时深刻理解客户的行业性质及商业诉求,进而站在客户的角度,灵活运用法律解决问题”。

Methodology EN在张淼律师看来,“专家型律师”则应具备三种能力。

“第一是解决问题的能力:客户在面临问题时更想知道‘我可以怎么做’,而不是”不可以做什么“,希望律师能提出可行性建议,同时针对预见风险提供一整套风险应对预案;第二是创造价值的能力,律师在项目中会参与商业模式设计、帮助客户对重大决策进行法律论证等,这都是法律服务商业价值的体现。”她说。

张律师举了个例子:今年年初,为解决基础设施行业融资难的问题,中国政府在基建领域提出了新基建REITs概念,张律师迅速带领团队展开调研,为客户提前做出了新模式下项目融资指南,“这就是法商思维结合的一个很好的例子”。

“第三,专家型律师还要有提供良好服务体验的能力。”她补充说。

除了法商交揉做好服务,嘉源律师事务所高级合伙人陈一敏律师进一步指出,专家型律师甚至“可以在交易中主动引导客户,或牵头完整交易的顺利推进和交易目的的实现”。

陈律师举了嘉源私募基金业务的例子。“在代表投资人开展私募投资时,我要求团队不仅只完成与法律相关的尽调和交易文件,而是和客户的项目执行组充分沟通交易时间、可能牵涉的交易方等,并就可能出现的难点环节及早和客户交流对策。另外,我们也引导客户对交易不同环节设置不同的时间预期,在执行中主动提醒客户可能的难点和拟将进行的后续步骤。”

“这样的工作方式让我们的身份变得很像财务顾问……它需要的不仅是律师的专业知识,而要求智商和情商的综合。”他说。

在竞天公诚律师事务所合伙人陈进进律师看来,法律、行业、商业三项能力的综合,其实也是愈发复杂的社会和商业环境对律师能力的反向定义。

“比如大量法规更新加快,对律师持续学习能力提出了更高要求;移动互联技术普及、新经济企业崛起,更注重快速迭代和解决问题的工作风格,需要律师能即时响应、高效反馈,甚至有时候可容忍传统意义上的严谨或规范形式。”他说。

“此外,创新商业模式层出,呼唤具有跨界背景、创造性解决问题能力的律师;而企业成长速度变快,全球主流资本市场竞相逐鹿同时又互联互通,对律师横跨一二级市场、境内外市场的一站式服务能力提出了新挑战。”他补充道。

“软硬兼施”

然而,客户对律师的要求不仅如此。上述“硬核”能力外,今年的调查中还出现了不少与软实力相关的形容词,例如敬业、高效、沟通能力强、领导力强,甚至具备亲和力、讲解耐心,以及“服务特别到位”。

“法律服务其实很难量化。律师是否专业、水平高不高,更多体现为客户的主观感受。”张淼律师如此谈及对于软实力要求的理解。

唐周俊律师也指出:“作为服务业的一种,律师职业是和人打交道的,软实力特别重要。”

在他看来,软实力首先包括两点,即倾听和换位思考能力,以及良好的沟通表达力。

“律师要学会倾听客户需求,想客户之所想,并擅于站在客户立场考虑其面临的问题……此外,在沟通过程中,法律的专业性往往让客户感到晦涩,面对不同背景的客户,要用对方可接受的方式,既专业又通俗地沟通。而且沟通对象不仅限于客户,甚至包括客户的对手。”唐律师说。

陈一敏律师对于表达能力的重要性尤其有共鸣。

“律师职业要‘接地气’。”他说,随后举了个例子:许多年轻律师,平时和同事交流起法条、案例侃侃而谈,但向客户汇报时,说不到35分钟就会被打断。“他们的问题在于对交流对象没有做分析,导致交流低效。律师不能整天沉浸在文山纸海中,还要多参与客户交流、谈判、和外界接触。”

陈律师还指出,专业律师的交流一定要讲道理、张弛有度。“我参与过一些谈判,有些律师一上来就气势汹汹。某个私募基金投资项目上,双方还没细谈交易条款,对方律师也没有听我们的理由,就说都不同意,并说‘你们都不同意的话就别投(这个项目)了’,场面十分尴尬。”

“我认为这位律师其实犯了一个大忌——律师不做‘砸买卖的人’(deal breaker),谈判风格看上去彪悍,但并不利于实现交易目的。这说明优秀律师还要会管理情绪和压力,不能把项目做到最后,让客户都对你担心,甚至不喜欢和你交流。”他说。

张淼律师指出,软实力还包括律师的领导能力和共情力。

“尤其面对集团客户和大型项目时,为客户服务的是一个律师团队,涉及团队整体作战能力的问题,合伙人律师的领导力就显得尤为重要……此外律师还要有共情能力,我本身是位女律师,在沟通中能更耐心地倾听客户的感受,让客户产生信赖实际上是有效沟通的体现,在实践中,每位律师的方式都不太一样。”她说。

“我认为,一位优秀律师应当秉承匠人精神、不断精进专业能力、信守承诺、及时反馈客户、不断在客户的信任账户中增加你的储蓄,使客户不仅信任你的能力、更信任你的人品。”君合律师事务所合伙人杨锦文律师如此总结道。

谈到过去几年中客户对律师能力的倾向性变化,受访律师观察到:客户愈发要求律师做到“软硬兼施”。

张淼律师如此理解背后原因:“随着法律服务行业不断发展,客户可以选择的空间越来越大,如果说原来是供方市场,现在就是买方市场,客户随之更加认可具备综合实力的律师。”

“(变化)近几年尤其明显。”陈一敏律师也感慨道,“客户在选择律师时,已经不仅仅看业绩或事务所品牌,而是会向同行打听律师的口碑,包括律师是不是好沟通、配合度高等。”

“我认为这恰恰是客户的粘性特征。换成是我,我也希望找到具备这样软硬技能的律师。”他说。

创造性思维

另一个频繁出现在今年调查问卷中的字眼,则是律师的“创造性思维”。

在张淼律师看来,“客户求助于律师时,通常已经找不到破局之路了。创新思维要求律师不受常规思路约束,寻找全新、独特的解答方法”。

但她也指出,律师的“创新”,“首先要把握案件的本质特征,同时有思维上的灵活、创新性”。

“没有扎实专业基础的创新是危险的。”陈一敏律师坦言,“律师服务不同于研发,对试错产生错误后果的容忍度非常低。所以律师的创新思维实际上要充分结合经验,且以解决问题为目的。”

“服务过程中,客户高度依赖律师结合财务、税务、商务、实操等一系列经验。经验越多,路径越多,方案有效性和精准度越高。”他说。

张淼律师分享了不久前的一个例子:在一起诉讼案件中,她和团队担任被告律师,接手案件时,客户的基本账户已被原告申请查封,导致全部业务暂停,且已经穷尽了法律层面的救济手段。面对这种情况,她和团队另辟蹊径,定位了法院许可查封账号的关键在于便于后期执行,于是在和法院商议下,以客户的不动产置换了基本账户的解封。

唐周俊律师则指出,对法律人来说,“灵活”和“敬畏”通常要并行。

他也举了个例子:不久前,唐律师团队参与了某上市公司的收购项目,由于时间紧张,不能遵循常规交易架构,唐律师团队于是设计了一项双层交易架构,尽管在形式上突破了监管惯例,但通过就架构实质和主管单位沟通后,取得了认可,最终帮客户实现了交易。

律师的“互联网思维”

在今年的特殊环境下,律师的不少工作都转向线上进行。实际上,在过去几年中,无论工作沟通还是自我宣传,网络已经成了律师的必备工具。今年的上榜律师又如何理解律师的“互联网思维”?

陈一敏律师深刻感受到了疫情期间线上服务带来的挑战。他告诉ALB:“我对于服务客户的最大挑战是时间管理,而时间管理是对投入和产出的平衡艺术。以疫情期间律师的在线工作模式为例,其实当微信出现时,我们的工作方式就已经开启了‘在线模式’,客户在微信上留言、建群、开电话会已经成为常态。”

陈律师说:“虽然沟通起来高效便捷,但律师不可能整天停留在微信上做咨询回复。”于是他想出了两种解决方案:将自身专业领域的某些服务转变为成熟经验,便利分享给相关客户;或者投入更多负责线上回复的律师生产力,“这大大提高了对难度不高的工作任务的处理效率,客户也会觉得反馈很高效”。

张淼律师对此也很有共鸣。

“今年很多业务都转到线上处理,某种程度上是对律师服务方式的颠覆。”她说,“律师和客户间交流的不仅是资讯,还有感情,如果未来大量进行线上沟通,可能在共情方面会遇到问题。在新服务方式下,我们如何做到提供与线下服务相同的客户体验?”

为此,浩天信和正在研究上线新 OA系统,希望将律师工作成果通过可视化方式进行线上展示,并把律所工作成果定期通过可视化方式传递给客户。张淼律师也期待未来市场上能有更多符合律师行业特征的类似定制化软件产品。

“互联网思维”对律师的另一种影响,则是利用网络进行自我宣传。

陈一敏律师观察到,“疫情期间出现大量的律师自我宣传内容,它们大致分为几种方式:撰写微信专业文章、朋友圈宣传团队业务特色、客户在线培训等”。

在他看来,律师利用互联网宣传是线下客户开发和客户维护的高效补充手段,律师可以利用各种互联网平台为自己“引流”,但也要思考怎样后续将流量转化为真正的案源。

张淼律师也认为律师借助互联网进行宣传有利有弊。

“现在是消费者主权的时代,在经济下滑的情况下,客户的决策会更谨慎。律师的个人宣传无疑给客户的选择提供了更全面的信息和更多元的渠道……但自媒体宣传某种程度也增加了客户的决策时间成本。此外,互联网平台存在参差不齐的状况,律师在做宣传时,还是要选择合适的平台。”她说。

未来愿景

上榜“客户首选律师”是对律师既有能力和服务的认可,但谈及未来,上榜律师们还有更高期许。

有人希望能够在专业领域中更加精进,例如杨锦文律师和陈进进律师。“伴随5G、大数据、物联网、人工智能、区块链等新一代信息技术迅猛发展,未来很长一段时间将是经济数字化、数字经济化不断交替螺旋式上升的过程,在此过程中网络安全和数据保护会变得越来越重要,本人将致力于前沿问题研究,全方位满足技术革新对企业提出的新合规要求。”杨律师说。

陈律师则“希望在本团队专注的TMT领域成为市场‘首选’律师梯队中的‘首选’团队”。

有人则希望为中国市场发展做出贡献,如唐周俊律师。他希望未来“锐意进取,提供最好的法律服务,与客户共同成长,实现客户的价值创造……同时准确、及时、高效地服务于中国资本市场,为资本和实体经济的对接提供高效的法律服务。”

陈一敏律师则希望能够更好地带领团队前进。“作为合伙人,希望未来把嘉源做成一个品牌强、质量高、在市场上有口皆碑的律师事务所,让每个在嘉源的年轻律师不留遗憾。”他说。

谈及未来,张淼律师则说自己“比较理想化……作为一个法律工作者,利用毕生所学,身体力行维护法律的公平正义,是每个法律人的期许”。

在带好团队、做好服务外,她期待未来也能践行好作为法律人的社会责任。“很多人说律师行业是逐利的,但法律工作者作为一个庞大群体,它的作用是保护整个社会在法制框架下有序运行,让每个个体的合法权益得到保护。”她说。


2020 ALB China Client Choice

For lawyers, the greatest honour is to be recognized and praised by their clients. As in other years, ALB surveyed some 1,800 clients of lawyers in China, asking them to recommend lawyers who stood out not only for their ability to provide sound advice, but also their commitment to client service.

 

In an era when new technologies and innovative ideas are reshaping all aspects of our lives and work, lawyers find that for clients, the definitions of "good lawyer" and "good legal service experience" are constantly changing. In particular, as the COVID-19 pandemic this year has caused changes in the legal service delivery model, lawyers have started to give client service and relationships a greater amount of consideration.

But there’s something remaining unchanged about the legal profession: Lawyers are required to uphold the professional ethics, codes of conduct and social responsibilities regardless of social and economic changes.

In ALB's survey this year, several new keywords are frequently seen in clients' evaluations of lawyers. What do lawyers think about the "new standards" put forward by clients?

RISE OF ‘EXPERT LAWYERS’

The 20 lawyers made the list this year are all seasoned experts in different industries or business fields. The survey shows that clients praise them for their in-depth understanding of the industries, in particular the fact that they have a good grasp of new regulations and business trends in the relevant fields, and in many cases, they can even guide clients in new projects.

The term "expert lawyer" is frequently seen in the legal market in recent years. "You can see more and more mainstream lawyers who, focusing on one or several industries and business fields and taking advantage of combining profound legal expertise and knowledge of industries, truly understand the pain points of their clients," Zhang Miao, partner at Hylands Law Firm says.

An "expert lawyer" could mean that a lawyer who at the same time is also an industry expert and a business expert.

Tang Zhoujun, partner at Zhong Lun Law Firm, describes the emergence of expert lawyers as the fact that the essence of legal services is in the delivery of results.

"Satisfying clients' needs at the lowest cost is almost the ultimate expectation of all clients for lawyers. Lawyers must aim to satisfy clients' needs, while laws are one of the approaches to achieving that goal. It's of no value if the legal argument is not aimed at offering feasible solutions to clients," he says.

Therefore, Tang believes that, in addition to having good knowledge of rules and laws, lawyers must also "always pay attention to the national policies, macroeconomic trends, social hot spots, changes in the business environment, etc., and at the same time deeply understand the nature of the industries and business requirements of clients, and then use the laws to solve problems flexibly from their perspectives."

According to Zhang Miao, an "expert lawyer" should possess three abilities.

"The first is the problem-solving ability: clients want to know 'what can I do' when facing problems, and they hope lawyers to provide concrete suggestions and a set of plans for responding to foreseeable risks; the second is the ability to create value. During the implementation of projects, lawyers should be able to participate in the design of business models, and help clients to reason from the legal perspective about their major decisions," she says.

She then gives an example: At the beginning of 2020, the Chinese government put forward the new concept of ramping up infrastructure investments through REITs (real estate investment trusts) in order to tackle the financing difficulties in the construction industry. Zhang Miao then led her team to quickly carry out research and prepared a project financing guide for clients under the new model. "This is a very good example of combing the legal thinking with the business thinking," Zhang says.

"And the third is that an expert lawyer must also have the ability to provide great customer experience," she adds.

In addition to combining legal and business awareness, Chen Yimin, senior partner at Jia Yuan Law Offices, further points out that an expert lawyer "is even able to take the initiative to guide clients in transactions, or lead the smooth advancement of transactions and the realization of transaction objectives."

"When representing investors in private equity investments, I require my team members not only to complete legal-related due diligence and the relevant transaction documents, but also to fully communicate matters such as the transaction time and possible transaction parties with the clients, and also to discuss with clients on the possible pain points at the earliest possible time. We also guided clients to set different time expectations for different aspects of the transactions, and took the initiative to remind clients of possible difficulties and advise them on the next steps to be taken," Chen illustrates.

"By working this way, we pretty much play the role of a financial consultant … which requires us not only having knowledge of laws, but also having a good combination of IQ and EQ," he says.

According to Chen Jinjin, partner at Jingtian & Gongcheng, the combination of capabilities in legal, industrial and business aspects is actually a re-definition of the abilities of lawyers in the increasingly complex social and business environment.

"For example, a large number of laws and regulations are updated faster, posing higher requirements on lawyers' continuous learning ability; with the wide use of Internet technology and the rise of new economy companies, more importance is given to the work style that can help solve problems quickly, requiring lawyers to respond immediately and give feedback quickly," he says.

"And the emergence of innovative business models calls for lawyers with cross-industries backgrounds and creative problem-solving ability. In the context that companies are growing faster, and mainstream global capital markets are competing with one another while being interconnected, it poses new challenges to lawyers in terms of the ability to provide one-stop services across the primary and secondary markets, and in domestic and overseas markets," he adds.

COMPLICATED SKILLSET

But clients have more to consider when evaluating the legal services. In addition to the above "hard core" capabilities, we also see feedback on the "soft skills" of lawyers – for example dedication, efficiency, strong communication skills, strong leadership, approachability, patience to explain, and even "he/she made me feel at home" -  in the survey.

"Legal services are actually very difficult to quantify. Whether lawyers are professional or whether they have appropriate skills are all reflected in clients’ objective feelings," Zhang Miao says.

"The legal profession is a part of the services industry, and a lawyer's responsibility is to find solutions for people, so the soft skills are particularly important," Tang of Zhong Lun points out.

In his view, soft skills include two aspects, namely, listening skills and effective communication skills.

"Lawyers must learn to listen to clients' needs, think in the others’ shoes, and consider clients' perspectives … Meanwhile, legal expressions may be difficult for clients to understand, lawyers should try to explain the laws to the clients, and even their counterparties, in a professional yet acceptable way," Tang says.

Chen of Jia Yuan points to the particular importance of the good verbal communication skills.

"Lawyers should be down to the earth," he says and then gives a vivid example: many young lawyers can speak eloquently before colleagues, but when reporting to clients, they'd be interrupted within a few minutes. "They should do more homework about the people they will speak to. Lawyers shouldn't immerse themselves in paperwork all the time; they should actively participate in activities such as communication with clients and negotiations, to have more interactions with people," Chen adds.

He also points out that lawyers should make logic arguments in a balanced way. "I was in some negotiations where some lawyers tended to be very aggressive. I still remember in a private equity investment project, we hadn't even gone into the details about the terms of the transaction, a lawyer of the counterparty said 'No' without even listening to what we had to say, and said to us 'then don't invest in (this project) if you don't agree.' It was really embarrassing."

"I think that lawyer made a big mistake by actually being a 'deal breaker.' He was acting tough but what he did was not conductive to the success of the deal. This shows that a good lawyer should also learn to manage his emotions and stress. You don't want to make your clients worry about you, or even would not like to talk with you," he says.

Zhang Miao of Hylands points out that soft skills also include leadership and empathy.

“In particular when facing group clients or handling large projects, lawyers would serve their clients as a team, and whether a partner has a strong leadership is particularly important. In addition, empathy is also an important skill for lawyers. As a female lawyer, I tend to be more patient in listening to clients, which helps me to build rapport with them. In practice, lawyers have their own different ways to build trust with their clients," she says.

"I believe that an excellent lawyer should uphold the spirit of craftsmanship, continuously improve their professional capabilities, keep promises, give timely feedback to clients, and continuously increase your clients' trust, so that your clients will have faith in your capabilities, and more importantly, in your character," Yang Jinwen, partner at JunHe, sums up.

When it comes to the changes of clients' preferred characters over the past few years, the lawyers observe that more clients require them to "combine hard-core capabilities with soft skills."

According to Zhang Miao, "with continuous evolvement of the legal service industry, we’re now facing a consumer-dominated legal market, and lawyers with comprehensive strengths will gain more recognition and trust."

"Changes have been quite noticeable in recent years. When selecting a lawyer, a client would look at his performance or the brand of his firm, and meanwhile ask his peers about his reputation, including whether he has good communication skills and whether he is willing to cooperate," Chen of Jia Yuan admits.

"If I were the client, I'd also like to find a lawyer with the combination of hard-core capabilities and soft skills," he adds.

INNOVATIVE THINKING

Another word frequently seen in this year's survey is the "innovative thinking" of lawyers.

In Zhang's view, "a client who asks a lawyer for help usually because the client can't find a way out the current situation already. Innovative thinking enables a lawyer not to be constrained by conventional thinking and to find new and unique solutions."

But she also points out that the "innovation must be based on the essential characteristics of the case, and at the same time the lawyer must have a flexible and innovative mindset."

"Innovation without a solid professional foundation is dangerous. Different from other professions, legal services have a very low tolerance for the failures resulted from trial and error. Therefore, lawyers' innovative thinking should be fully combined with their experiences and aimed at solving problems," Chen of Jia Yuan says.

"Clients rely on lawyers for their comprehensive experiences in finance, taxation, business, and practical operations. Lawyers with more experiences are able to provide solutions of higher effectiveness and accuracy," he adds.

Tang of Zhong Lun believes that for legal professionals, "flexibility" and "respect" usually go hand in hand.

He shares a case he and his team handled lately. Tang and his team participated in an acquisition project of a listed company, which couldn't follow the conventional transaction structure because of the tight schedule. They therefore designed a two-tier transaction structure, which made a breakthrough in the regulatory convention form. After communicating with the competent authority on the essence of the new structure, they obtained the approval, finally helped the client complete the transaction.

LAWYERS’ INTERNET THINKING

Given the special circumstances this year, many lawyers have transferred big bunch of their work online. In fact, the Internet has already become an indispensable tool for lawyers in recent years, whether for work communication or self-promotion.

Chen of Jia Yuan found it quite challenging providing services online during the pandemic. "When serving the clients, the biggest challenge for me is time management, which I believe is the art of balancing input and output. We had to work online during the pandemic – to be honest, we began ‘online working’ since the creation of WeChat already…  It has been super normal for clients to leave messages on WeChat, to drag us into chat groups, or to start online meetings without advance notices," he tells ALB.

"While it makes it more convenient and efficient for us to communicate, the problem is that lawyers can't stay on WeChat all the time to respond to clients' enquiry." Therefore he came up with two solutions: sharing ready articles with clients about normal enquiries, and also assigning specific lawyers to be responsible for responding online. "In this way, we greatly improved the efficiency of dealing with less difficult tasks, and clients also enjoy our efficient feedback," he says.

Zhang Miao echoes Chen's opinion.

"We had to handle a lot of matters online this year, which is to some extent a disruption to the legal service delivery approach. To work well with clients, we need to establish and maintain rapport with them, which requires communication and empathy. With the new service delivery model, how could we guarantee to provide the same customer experience as offline models?" she says.

To this end, Hylands is planning to launch a new OA system, hoping to visualize the lawyers' work results online, and display the firm's work results to clients through the new system. Zhang hopes that there will be more customized software products in the market that can satisfy the needs of the legal profession in the future.

Another influence of the "Internet thinking" on lawyers is the use of the Internet for self-promotion.

Chen of Jia Yuan observes that "during the pandemic, many lawyers worked to increase their exposure or social influence by means of writing articles on WeChat, making publicity of their teams through WeChat moments, or carrying out online training for clients."

In his opinion, lawyers' use of the Internet for increasing their exposure is an efficient supplementary to offline business development and client retention. Lawyers could use various online platforms to attract web traffic, but meanwhile, they need to think about how to turn the traffic into the real deals.

Zhang Miao believes that there are advantages and disadvantages in terms of using the Internet to do publicity.

"This is the era of consumer sovereignty, and in the face of economic downturn, clients tend to be more cautious. The self-promotion of lawyers without doubt provides clients with more comprehensive information and more diversified channels. But to some extent, the we-media publicity also increases the decision-making time cost of clients. Furthermore, lawyers should choose the right platform when they make publicity online," she says.

FUTURE VISIONS

Although their capabilities and services are recognized by this year’s ranking, the enlisted lawyers still dream big for the future.

Some want to advance in their areas of practice, such as Chen of Jingtian & Gongcheng and Yang of JunHe. Chen hopes that "my team would become the 'client choice' team in the TMT field."

And Yang says: "With the rapid development of a new generation of information technology such as 5G, big data, Internet of Things, artificial intelligence and and blockchain, cybersecurity and data protection will become more and more important. I will devote myself to the research of cutting-edge issues and comprehensively meet the new compliance requirements posed by technological innovation on enterprises."

Some want to contribute to the development of the large market, as Tang of Zhong Lun says that he would "work towards providing the best legal services for clients, and grow together with them … At the same time, I will serve the Chinese capital markets accurately, timely and efficiently, and provide efficient services to the connection between capital and the real economy."

Chen of Jia Yuan hopes to lead his team to greatness. "As a partner, I hope that in the future, Jia Yuan will become a prestigious law firm with a strong brand and high-quality services, so our young lawyers could be proud to announce their senses of belonging," he says.

Talking about the future, Zhang says she is "quite idealistic... As a legal professional, I want to use what I have learnt to safeguard the justice of law. I believe that it is also what all legal professionals are committed to."

In addition to leading her team to provide excellent services, Zhang also wants to fulfill her social responsibility as a lawyer. "Many people say that the legal profession is profit-seeking, but in my eyes, lawyers' priority is to protect the orderly operation of the entire society under the framework of law, so that the legitimate rights and interests of each individual are protected," she says.

 

To contact the editorial team, please email ALBEditor@thomsonreuters.com.