2021 ALB China 十五佳女律师有着平均18年的执业年限，活跃在境内外投资并购、资本市场、资产管理、知识产权、劳动法、竞争法等领域。尽管近年来经济环境、商业发展和法律监管日新月异，给法律从业者带来了不小的挑战，但她们抓住机会，在多个具有影响力的重大项目中屡创佳绩，涉足TMT、医疗、消费品等多个行业。ALB与几位上榜律师聊了聊，听她们分享各自的职业历程，身为女性律师的感悟，以及对未来的畅想。
君合律师事务所合伙人许蓉蓉律师1988年从香港大学毕业后成为了香港房地产领域的一名律师。1995年，她移居新西兰，并在当地考取了律师资格后执业于新西兰Glaister Ennor律师楼。1999年，许蓉蓉律师回到香港，担任香港第二大电信服务公司九仓电讯有限公司（Wharf T&T Limited）的高级法律顾问。2004年8月，许蓉蓉律师从香港来到内地发展，加入君合律师事务所，担任并购与反垄断业务领域合伙人。
在过去一年中，许蓉蓉律师带领项目组完成了两例半导体行业的高难度反垄断申报项目。在5G高速发展和国家大力支持芯片制造业发展的大背景下，有关半导体行业企业的反垄断审查非常严格，据统计，自2018年以来宣布的全球大型半导体交易中，有百分之69的交易所面对的最后一道障碍是中国国家市场监督管理总局的审查。在Cisco收购Acacia案的后续发展中，许蓉蓉律师与君合的团队代表Acacia完成了本次反垄断申报，并于今年初获得了中国国家市场监督管理总局的附条件通过。此外，在Analogue Devices Inc.（ADI）收购 Maxim一案中，该收购案也必需经过中国国家市场监督管理总局的审查。许蓉蓉律师与君合的团队代表ADI进行反垄断申报，在不到一年的时间里即获得了中国国家市场监督管理总局的无条件通过，使项目迅速而顺利地完成交割。
宾夕法尼亚大学法学院国际事务副院长Rangita de Silva de Alwis及其学生Ziguo Yang近期的一项研究显示，中国女性法律从业者在职业发展中仍然面临着来自社会期望的阻力——比起追求事业，女性似乎被认为更应该去生儿育女。家庭责任似乎是职业女性面临的最大挑战之一，但在此次采访中，几位上榜女律师提出：平衡家庭与工作应该是每个职场人的必修课，无论男女。
2021 ALB China Top 15 Female Lawyers
The 15 outstanding female lawyers on this year's list have an average of 18 years of practice experience and are active in a wide range of areas including domestic and overseas investment, mergers and acquisitions (M&As), capital markets, asset management, intellectual property rights, labour law, and competition law. In recent years, the economic environment, business development and legal regulation have changed with each passing day, which has brought a lot of challenges to legal practitioners. However, the listed lawyers have seized the opportunities to achieve great results in a number of influential major projects, involving in TMT, medical care, consumer goods and other sectors. ALB spoke to several of the lawyers on the list, and they have shared their career paths, what they have learned about being a female lawyer, and what they think about the future.
“In the past year, my colleagues and I completed several big projects together... Some clients may lack a bit of trust on female lawyers before official meetings as a result of gender stereotypes, but young female lawyers should not let it dampen their confidence, because the female youngsters that I have seen are all very excellent at their work.”
— Hu Qi, Grandway Law Offices
Hu Qi has been working at Grandway Law Offices since she obtained the practice qualification in 2009. Only three years later in 2012, Hu was promoted to second-level partner at Grandway and then to partner soon after. Hu focuses on corporate law and securities law. In the past ten years, she has witnessed the ups and downs of China's capital market and how it grows more refined, during which Hu has participated in or led several major projects.
“In the past year, my colleagues and I completed several IPO, investment and financing, and acquisition projects together, for example, the $415 million A-share listing of Jiufeng Energy, a large comprehensive service provider of clean energy; auto parts maker Pivot Group’s application of listing in Shenzhen, which has passed the audit of Shenzhen Stock Exchange; the leading nutritional health products maker Aland’s $127 million financing; and the $118 million private offering of the listed company Career International,” Hu says.
Janet Hui, currently a partner at JunHe Law Firm, kicked off her career as a real estate lawyer in Hong Kong SAR after she graduated from the University of Hong Kong in 1988. In 1995, she moved to New Zealand, where she practiced at Glaister Ennor after obtaining the qualification. In 1999, Hui returned to Hong Kong SAR to work as an in-house senior legal counsel at Wharf T&T Limited, Hong Kong SAR's second-largest telecommunications services company. In August 2004, she came to mainland China from Hong Kong SAR and joined JunHe as a partner in M&A and anti-monopoly.
The multiple changes of roles, fields and regions have extended Hui's career on multiple levels. From a lawyer to in-house legal counsel and then back to being a lawyer, Hui is better at standing in the client's point of view to analyse problems and maximize their interests; her experience in real estate, telecommunications, M&A, anti-monopoly and other fields has enriched her industry knowledge and diversified her practice experience; working in Hong Kong, New Zealand and Mainland China has given Hui a more international perspective, making her more confident and calm when dealing with complex projects and cases.
In the past year, Hui led her team to complete two complex anti-monopoly declaration projects in the semiconductor industry. In the context of the rapid development of 5G and strong state support for the development of chip manufacturing industry, the anti-monopoly examination of enterprises in the semiconductor industry is very strict. According to statistics, 69 percent of the world's large semiconductor deals announced since 2018 faced the final hurdle of review by China's State Administration for Market Regulation. In the follow-up to Cisco's acquisition of Acacia, Hui and JunHe's team represented Acacia in the antitrust filing, which was conditionally approved by the State Administration for Market Regulation in China earlier this year. In addition, the acquisition of Maximby Analogue Devices Inc. is also subject to review by the State Administration for Market Regulation of China. Hui and JunHe's team applied for the anti-monopoly declaration on behalf of ADI, which was unconditionally approved by the authority in less than one year's time.
Lin Lin, partner at Grandall Law Firm, has been working as a lawyer since she graduated from the Law School of East China University of Political Science and Law in 2000. In Lin's own words, becoming a lawyer has always been her dream. For more than 21 years, her practice areas have been mainly securities and M&A. During her 19 years of practice at Grandall Shanghai, she has participated in and led many important listings and M&A projects.
Taking the past year as an example, Lin participated in Cosco Shipping’s purchase of 100 percent of shares of Dongfang International Container (DFIC Qidong), DFIC Qingdao, and Huanyu Technology. She advised the company on legal matters related to acquisition and major asset restructuring.
In terms of listing projects, Lin and her team advised Wuxi Zhenhua on its successful IPO in Shanghai Stock Exchange’s main board. Lin has also advised SICC, a Chinese semiconductor material and semi-insulating silicon carbide maker that ranks the third in the world in terms of production and sales volume, on its planned IPO in Shanghai’s STAR Market, which has recently been approved by the listing committee. Additionally, they have also contributed to the successful STAR Market IPO of Wave Cyber (Shanghai), and the planned Hong Kong IPO of a new energy automobile company.
Ouyang Dan, a partner at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, has practiced for over 16 years. Prior to joining Wilson, Ouyang spent five years working in the New York and Hong Kong offices of Latham & Watkins, and three years in the Hong Kong office of David Polk & Wardwell, after which she was a partner at the Beijing office of Paul Hastings. In 2015, Wilson's business in Asia was mainly focused on PE and M&A, and their capital markets practice has just started for two or three years. The firm has shown its edge in the entire Asian market but has not established a solid market position yet. Nevertheless, Ouyang still chose to join Wilson's capital markets team. Looking back the decision, Ouyang tells ALB: "my main consideration at that time was that Wilson's human relations in Asia were relatively simple, and although the capital markets practice was not well-known, but it had great development space. Of course, it was a big challenge for me compared to platforms that were more mature in Asia."
Just like Ouyang said, the path of entrepreneurship was fraught with hardship. Ouyang experienced doubts, setbacks and pressures that she had never experienced in a more mature platform in Asia before, but the trust from clients and encouragement from her colleagues supported her to move forward.
“I am very grateful to clients who were willing to trust me with their most important IPO projects during my first two years as a partner. That kind of trust was rare and very precious for a young partner and a law firm that didn't establish a long track record in Asia at the time, and it encouraged me and kept me moving forward on my entrepreneurial journey. It was also fortunate for me to work with several senior lawyers from Wilson's capital markets practice, filling what should have been a lonely journey with understanding and recognition,” Ouyang says.
In the past few years, Wilson's Asian capital markets practice has grown from scratch with the concerted efforts of Ouyang and her colleagues. She tells ALB: “In the past year, we participated in Angelalign's listing project in Hong Kong, which was a milestone in the Hong Kong stock market and ushered in a new era of consumer stocks and medical stocks listing. We've also just completed Cloopen’s US listing, which is one of the most successful listing projects this year. Currently, our team is involved in several IPO projects that are expected to be the most influential ones in 2021. I believe that our advantage is we are good at capturing the wind direction of the capital market and excavating extraordinary investment stories and highlights from seemingly ordinary projects.”
PROUD TO BE FEMALE LAWYERS
Professional women sometimes have to face and overcome some prejudices from gender stereotypes. Hui tells ALB that women's capabilities at work can sometimes be questioned by those with more traditional views, with some people thinking that women are not as competent as men. Therefore, female lawyers sometimes have to make extra efforts to win trust from clients.
Lin points out that such prejudice exists, but not always. Based on her experience, as long as a lawyer is professional enough, clients' doubts will gradually be eliminated during the service process. Not only that, Lin also believes that being a female lawyer actually has far more advantages than disadvantages in the workplace.
“Lawyers are professional services providers. What clients care about the most is whether this lawyer or the team of lawyers can meet their needs and really solve the problems. Therefore, gender has very limited effects for lawyers, especially non-litigation lawyers. On the contrary, women's sensitivity, good communication skills, and resilience are very favorable to practice,” Lin says.
Such opinion is echoed by Hui, who lists three advantages of female lawyers: “First of all, women are relatively more attentive, as they pay more attention to details in work. Such characteristic of female lawyers makes them more likely to find the key to legal issues. For instance, when offering advice to clients, female lawyers will not only make professional analysis from different aspects and angles, but also note small but important details like which kind of pens are appropriate to use for signing, making the legal services more considerate. Second, when facing complex work and problems, women are better at dealing with them with a calm attitude, especially when it comes to a situation where the questions are raised repetitively by different departments of the client company. Female lawyers tend to be more patient during communication, giving detailed answers which help all departments understand the key to the problems and promote the project smoothly. Third, women are more sensitive and can take into account the psychological feelings of all parties in the process of communication. With more affinity, they are easier to be accepted in the process of dealing with superiors and subordinates, colleagues and customers and become partners to each other. For example, in the process of negotiation, women are more aware of the emotion changes of the other party and know how to ease and mobilize emotions to promote the progress of the negotiation.”
“It was fortunate for me to work with senior lawyers in capital markets... Being a lawyer is making friends with time, as the client can discover the professional and personal value of a lawyer in the long-term cooperation. I have always felt that women with their unique endurance, patience and sensitivity can yield very high achievements in this field.”
— Ouyang Dan, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati
Ouyang also believes in the advantages of being a female lawyer. She says: “Being a lawyer is making friends with time, as the client can discover the professional and personal value of a lawyer in the long-term cooperation. I have always felt that women with their unique endurance, patience and sensitivity can yield very high achievements in this field.”
EQUAL PARTNERSHIPS NEEDED
According to a recent study conducted by Rangita de Silva de Alwis, associate dean of international affairs at the University of Pennsylvania Law School and her student Ziguo Yang, the biggest headwind that professional women in China face in advancing their careers is society’s expectations when it comes to child-bearing. Family responsibilities remain one of the biggest challenges for professional women, but in the interview, the listed lawyers say that balancing the two should be a “mandatory course” for everyone, regardless of gender.
“Both working women and men need to face and bear family responsibilities, because it is supposed to be shared by family members who should give each other understanding and tolerance,” Hu says.
Lin sees family responsibilities as a natural part of work and life, and it should be treated as a relatively complex and long-lasting project with a “normal heart”. What people need to do is just to save time and energy for family in addition to work and adjust their “plan” according to the process of the “family project”.
“I do not think it is that difficult before the wisdom of a professional lawyer,” Lin says.
Hui takes similar action by arranging time and energy appropriately for work and family. In addition to her own efforts, JunHe has given great support as well. Hui tells ALB: “The support provided by JunHe mainly includes two aspects. First, the working hours are flexible. If there are urgent needs during the working period, such as children's illness or parents' meeting that needs attending, JunHe will give support. Secondly, JunHe provides various resources for lawyers' families to join activities such as tours and lectures so that lawyers can spend more time with their families.”
Grandall also provides support on this regard. Lin shares: “In terms of balancing work and family, our firm is very helpful. We are equipped with enough team members and strong administrative staff, so that I can have enough time and energy to deal with family affairs, especially when I meet emergencies at home. Grandall also gives me time to travel with my children and enjoy our time together each year.”
ADVICE TO YOUNG LAWYERS
Ouyang believes that it is very necessary for young lawyers to see the nature of this line of work. She says: “Being a lawyer is a very hard profession. If you are not particularly interested in creatively solving other people's legal problems, you should choose an easier job for a more comfortable lifestyle. Of course, if you want to continue on this road, you should choose the right direction according to your personality and characteristics, and have a certain grasp of the time and energy required for this direction, as well as the future development.”
For young people who have chosen this career path with determination, Hui stressed the importance of physical and mental health.
“Lawyers should first pay attention to maintaining a healthy body, because lawyers work long hours and work intensity every day. Only by staying healthy can a lawyer work in a good state. Second, learn to deal with stress and keep a good and stable mood. Lawyers often face high-pressure workloads and complex legal problems, so they need to maintain a stable emotional and psychological state to comprehensively and deeply analyze and solve problems, which is also a very important ability and valuable quality. Third, young lawyers should have team spirit. Members of a team have their own strengths and weaknesses. If colleagues can support each other when they need help, it will be of great benefit to both individuals and the whole team,” Hui says.
Furthermore, Hui also observed that many of the female young lawyers are used to working silently and are not good at communication, which not only makes it difficult for them to recognize their drawbacks to improve, but also deprives them of opportunities to enhance communication with others. Therefore, Hui also suggests that young female lawyers, whether junior or senior, should dare to ask questions and actively communicate in their work.
“The key is not about gender, nor about seniority, but about attitude. Don’t be impatient. Just keep calm and stay focused, as this is the only way to walk a longer and broader career path. For young female lawyers in my practice area, my advice is that if you have determined to work as a lawyer, just keep moving forward bravely, and you will finally see your achievements.”
— Lin Lin, Grandall Law Firm
Hu encourage female young lawyers to be more confident. She points out that some clients may lack a bit of trust on female lawyers before official meetings as a result of gender stereotypes, but young female lawyers should not let it dampen their confidence, “because the female youngsters that I have seen are all very excellent at their work.”
“It is not about gender, nor about seniority, but about attitude. Don’t be impatient. Just keep calm and stay focused, as this is the only way to walk a longer and broader career path. For young female lawyers in my practice area, my advice is that if you have determined to work as a lawyer, just keep moving forward bravely, and you will finally see your achievements,” Lin says.
LOOKING TO THE FUTURE
For the work in the next few years, Hu looks forward to continuing to deepen and expand practice in capital markets and will actively participate in the management of the firm, social charity work, and strive to grow together with clients, her team and the firm for excellence.
Lin tells ALB that in the future, she will continue to expand her expertise in domestic and foreign listing, M&A, restructuring, and other capital market-related practices, in order to serve existing and new clients with professional services. At the same time, Lin will also cultivate younger lawyers, pass on more experience, and keep learning knowledge and skills about emerging businesses to diversify her expertise.
In the future, in addition to keeping going on in her existing practice areas, Hui also has plans in two other fields: first, she hopes to provide more charity legal services. Over the past ten years, Hui has been actively involved in legal services for public interests, such as advising The Nature Conservancy's donation acceptance, marketing and charitable funds establishment in China. In the future, Hui hopes to provide more legal support to various kinds of public welfare organizations, charitable organizations and vulnerable groups, especially to provide more help and support for female lawyers or women in the workplace.
Second, Hui also wants to do more work for Chinese lawyers to reach the international platform. She points out that at present, most foreign female lawyers are very active in the world, who can be seen and heard in different platforms, but the Chinese female lawyers, on the other hand, are much less so. Therefore, Hui hopes that with her efforts, more Chinese lawyers can be shown on the international stage, and play a bigger part in foreign-related legal services.
Ouyang says that although in recent years the overseas capital markets are affected by a variety of market and economic factors, Wilson's achievements in the field of Asian capital markets in recent years have made it widely recognized as a "dark horse" law firm. When Ouyang first joined the firm, its Beijing office only had six or seven lawyers, and not it has more than thirty, making it one of the largest China domestic offices of American law firms. In 2018, Wilson Asia participated in six U.S. listing and 11 Hong Kong listing projects, including the US listings of Tencent Music and the Hong Kong listings of Wuxi Apptec.
Ouyang shares that when she joined Wilson Sonsini in 2015, she already felt that the capital markets in Asia were very crowded, full of strong competitors. Lawyers, especially in the United States, need to find their own way in this market. Every listing project takes up a lot of human resources in American law firms. Therefore, if the project is not likely to succeed, it will waste the valuable time, energy and resources of lawyers and the company. Fortunately, as the team leader, Ouyang is a passionate learner of industry knowledge. Through her constant industry research, Ouyang has been helping the team to choose the right listing project.
“The trends in the capital markets change a little bit from year to year, and over the past few years our projects have been heavily focused on TMT, healthcare, consumer goods, etc. However, as the advantages of Internet industry gradually fade since 2013, we will try to extend industrial concentration to some extent in recent years. An understanding of the industry and a highly forward-looking layout are essential for capital markets lawyers. Over the past few years, one of the things I've been very proud of is that we've had a very high success rate of all the projects we've been involved in that we've been able to help issuers complete listings very quickly. In the coming years, I hope that more clients and market participants will learn about Wilson's business and we can take the quality of our projects to the next level,” Ouyang says.
Ge Yin 葛音
Hu Qi 胡琪
Janet Hui 许蓉蓉
Jiang Yifeng 姜翼凤
Lin Lin 林琳
Liu Kun 刘堃（刘坤）
Liu Shuang 刘爽
Nafisa Nihmat 乃菲莎·尼合买提
Sun Li 孙莉
Jennifer Wang 王清华
Wei Shuangjuan 魏双娟
Christine Yiu 姚捷
Zhou Yao 周瑶