ALB: Congratulations on retaining the top spot in the ALB China Top 30 Largest Law Firms this year! Could you share with us what progress Yingke has made in the development of teams and the setting up of offices and branches over the last year?
Li Zheng (Li): As of the end of October this year, Yingke has opened 98 offices in China, with 12022 lawyers; and Yingke’s international network covers 145 cities in 83 countries around the world, including among others the United States, Germany, and the United Kingdom. With its broad space, open and productive work environment, and extensive network, Yingke welcomes more legal talent to join us.
ALB: With more and more legal talent joining Yingke, what is your strategy for talent development and team management? How does this contribute to the firm’s development plan?
Li: We take the following measures for talent development: First, Yingke gives young lawyers a broad stage for displaying their talents and capabilities and offers them sufficient room for career development and personal growth. At Yingke, we offer a very inclusive platform for young talent to try out various possibilities and find the practice areas in which they want to specialize. Secondly, we focus on training lawyers on their capabilities to provide quality services and help them excel. We provide internal training and help lawyers improve professional capabilities through various expertise committees and departments. And thirdly, we always attach importance to recruiting outstanding talent, in particular the lateral recruitment of those who are experts in some practice areas, which we believe is vital to the specialization construction of the firm.
In terms of the team management, Yingke adopts a unique professional manager system. According to this system, whoever serves as a professional manager can no longer handle cases, instead, he needs to focus on serving clients and lawyers. A professional manager participates in making major decisions, and meanwhile is the one who executes daily operation and management matters, and bears business operation responsibilities. The development of legal service market varies in different regions, so does the level of legal services provided. To make Yingke a competitive firm in all regions, professional managers need to provide lawyers with high-standard services in light of the local market environment.
Under the leadership of the executive director, the administrative service team provides lawyers with administrative assistance, financial support, brand promotion, risk control, customer management, marketing and other logistics-related services. Lawyers only need to focus on improving their expertise and use the Yingke’s platform to strive for the greatest rights and interests for their clients, and provide them with more comprehensive services. Under this unique system, the management team and business personnel perform their respective duties, achieving a synergy effect of “1+1>2”.
ALB: Yingke officially announced the opening of its office in Dusseldorf, Germany in August this year. What’s the strategic significance of this office? And how do you address the challenges facing Yingke on the path of international expansion in the post-pandemic era?
Yang Lin (Yang): We chose to set up Dusseldorf Office in Germany as our first stop on the business expansion in Europe because of the economic and innovative strengths of Germany, which is now widely regarded the most powerful economy in Europe. The partners of Yingke Germany are composed of experienced Yingke Chinese lawyers, local German lawyers and Chinese lawyers with qualifications to practice law in both China and Germany. Yingke Germany will possibly open offices in other major cities of Germany, such as Berlin, Munich, Hamburg, and Frankfurt, if the business requires so.
As a Chinese law firm, Yingke is faced with three main challenges in the international business expansion. The first is to find the right firms to form partnerships. Yingke’s global legal service network now covers 83 countries around the world, and we need to continue to expand our international territory. When forming a partnership with a foreign law firm, our primary concern is that we must agree with each other about the development of China. Then of course, professional service capabilities and work efficiency are very important factors. Firms usually join our network through the referrals of the existing partners in our network. The second is the establishment of directly operated law firms. Our next-step strategy is to establish directly operated law firms in foreign countries where there are many Chinese-invested companies. But the challenge is that many of those countries do not allow foreign law firms to set up offices there, or they impose very strict access restrictions. In that case, we will set up a consulting firm there to cooperate with local law firms on legal matters. Yingke will send Chinese lawyers to the consulting firm to assist clients in the communication with all parties concerned. And thirdly, it is about foreign-related legal talents. The foreign-related legal talents who have a deep understanding of politics and economy, are proficient in using a foreign language as a working language, and have extensive experience in a certain field are scarce. We will recruit more talent while strengthening the internal training of our lawyers to build and maintain an effective talent pool.
ALB: What is your strategic planning for the next step?
Li: Yingke will continue to step up efforts in the development of the firm in China and the construction of global legal service network. At the domestic level, we will work on the expansion layout in the country, and learn about and predict the development trend of China’s legal industry to open offices under the guidance of the outlook of the overall situation. Our domestic network will not only cover first-tier cities, municipalities directly under the Central Government and most provincial capitals, but also the top 100 Chinese cities by GDP and other cities with development potential, so that “clients can reach us wherever they need us”.
Yang: Internationally, on the one hand, we will open directly-operated overseas branches in more countries. We will work to find out the top investment destination countries of most Chinese companies that are planning to “go global”, set up overseas directly-operated branches in the countries that allow foreign firms to set up offices, and dispatch outstanding foreign-related lawyers to be stationed in those directly-operated branches to establish smooth and efficient communication channels, and at the same time build friendly cooperative relations with local governments, chambers of commerce, law firms, etc.
On the other hand, we will continue to expand Yingke’s global legal service network. In this regard, we will develop further cooperation with top foreign law firms, select and invite well-known law firms that recognize China’s development and have strong expertise and efficient communication to join the network, and continue to efficiently provide Chinese companies and citizens with multilanguage, cross-cultural, and cross-jurisdiction legal services on a global scale.