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Shanghai Attorney

shanghai attorneyShanghai lawyers and attorneys practicing law must go to school and study law for many years. But the years of education, as much as seven to nine years following the equivalent of an undergraduate pre-law degree, are just the first of many hurdles to becoming a practicing attorney in Shanghai.

The next step is a law exam similar to the Bar Exam in the US, but apparently much more difficult to pass. Called the “No. 1 Examination” in China, the national legal examination has a pass rate of less than 20%, with the vast majority taking it three to five times or more before passing. Many examinees, ranging widely in age and profession, view the test as a tremendous pressure.

For those that do pass the test, the hardships are far from over. Those interested in pursuing a career as a Shanghai attorney must then undergo a year-long, zero-pay internship at a Shanghai law firm. Though some interns will receive a small stipend, it is usually barely enough to live on, and some will receive nothing at all –- making the prospect of becoming a Red Lawyer daunting and expensive.

Those that make it through the trainee period may still not receive many cases since most companies and law firms prefer to trust important cases to the experienced lawyers in the firm. Even experienced Shanghai lawyers may not receive as much money as is commonly thought, with many respondents to a recent survey stating they handle 10 or fewer cases a year and reporting their yearly income between 30,000 Yuan and 200,000 Yuan (USD $3,810 – $25,400), with only 1% reporting their income above 1 million Yuan (USD $127,000).

For those Shanghai attorneys who make it, some practice law in foreign enterprises. These attorneys will specialize in reviewing legal documents as well as creating them. Attorneys who deal in foreign enterprises often travel throughout the world and help the companies they represent obtain new companies and close deals, as well as many other legal aspects. Along with foreign attorneys, there are also attorneys who specialize in corporate law. These attorneys are especially important in the current economy. Many companies need these types of attorneys for help with bankruptcies, liquidations, and mergers.