A delegation from the Bar Council and Law Society, led by Adrian Hughes QC and Neil Sampson, Co-chairs of the joint China Law Council undertook a successful visit to Chongqing, Tianjin and Beijing from 16-21 November 2008. The visit built on the longstanding relationship that has already been developed between the legal professions in China and the UK. It also sought to raise the profile of UK legal services, and the Bar in particular, in the thriving economic centers of Tianjin and Chongqing, increase our understanding of the local market and facilitate networking with local lawyers and law firms.

One-day seminars were held in Tianjin and Chongqing in conjunction with the local bar associations. The morning seminars, given by Stephen Hockman QC and Gordon Wignall, as well as solicitors colleagues, focused on various aspects of UK and European environmental law. In the afternoons, Adrian Hughes QC and Philip Riches led seminars on international arbitration, the services the bar can offer Chinese clients, and how to identify and instruct a suitable barrister. All the seminars were very well attended (c. 100), followed by lively discussion. The local bar associations were most welcoming and links with these important interlocutors were deepened.

The delegation finally went to Beijing where it met with the All China Lawyers Association (ACLA) and the Chinese Ministry of Justice. The Ministry and ACLA reaffirmed that the LCTS remains China’s leading international vocational training programme for young lawyers and very positive discussions on the future of the scheme were held. Further valuable consultations were held with LCTS alumni and young lawyers in Tianjin, Chongqing and Beijing. The general view was that the opportunity to participate in a practical placements with both barristers chambers and law firms is seen an attractive part of the LCTS programme and provides participants with an invaluable experience.