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Philadelphia-based Reed Smith has taken five Chinese legal professionals under its wing in an effort to expose them to legal practice in the United States. These individuals, who attended law school in China, were introduced to Reed Smith through Temple University Beasley School of Law, where they are earning their master of law degrees. In 1999, China invited Temple Law to train its attorneys in U.S. and international legal doctrines, marking the first and only instance of China permitting a foreign law degree-granting program, according to a press release issued by the Temple Law. Temple’s program focuses on business, trade and commercial law, intellectual property and other courses fundamental to American and international legal systems, including American constitutional law. The two-year LL.M. program admits about 35 Chinese legal professionals each year, including judges, professors, government officials and practicing lawyers. REED SMITH’S NEW FELLOWSHIP The two men and three women from Temple’s LL.M. program will ultimately spend three weeks at Reed Smith under a new Chinese LL.M. fellowship program, which was created this year by partner John Smith. Smith said he found out about the Chinese LL.M. program at Temple through a lunch with faculty member Eleanor Myers. Myers indicated that the Chinese students might be interested in learning what an American law firm is like. Smith suggested that the entire class of Chinese LL.M. students visit Reed Smith so that he and his colleagues could explain the practice of law in the United States. Myers took Smith up on his offer, and on July 12, some members of the firm held a 2 1/2-hour session with the Temple students. After the presentation, about 10 students approached the firm, asking if they could intern at Reed Smith for a few weeks during the summer. Smith said the large number of requests led the firm’s partners to conclude that this was an opportunity to expose the Chinese to American law firm life and that a program should be created. Of the 10 who applied, Reed Smith chose five to participate in the program. “We have a very well-developed judicial system, and lawyers play an important role in that system; we wanted them to see that in action,” Smith said. “We wanted them to understand what goes through a corporate lawyer’s mind when he or she is advising a client about doing business in China, and we wanted them to know something about the code of professional conduct that lawyers operate under.” The five interns are getting assignments from throughout the firm, dealing with issues from litigation to business law. Smith said that while they are being treated as “honorary summer associates,” they are not employed by Reed Smith. Under the terms of their visas, they cannot work secure employment while in the United States. “It would be nice to know that there were going to be future employees in this group, but being able to establish a two-way relationship with five very interesting people seemed very worth the effort to us,” Smith said. As part of the program, Reed Smith has set up outside presentations, in addition to firm assignments, to help the students understand how American law is practiced. Some of the events include presentations by Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court President Judge Joseph T. Doyle and officials from the Delaware River Port Authority. Karen El-Chaar, the Pennsylvania representative for business conducted with China, will speak with the group about Pennsylvania and China relations. In addition, they will be going to Washington, D.C., to meet with representatives from the Chinese Embassy and other American officials. THE FELLOWS According to Smith, the fellows are not typical interns — young people, fresh out of law school. A number of them are well into their professional careers in China and are here to learn more about other countries’ legal systems and practices. “They are intense and enthusiastic beyond my imagination,” Smith said. One of the fellows, Will Cai, graduated from the China University of Political Science and Law in 1997 and went on to work as a legal clerk for the Supreme People’s Court in China. After two years, he moved to the personnel department, which focuses on judicial reform in China. Reform issues he worked on included judge training programs and amending the requirements one must meet to become a judge. While any citizen used to be able to become a judge, Cai said, individuals must now go to law school and pass the bar exam to hold this office. Cai said he hopes to gain a deeper understanding of the American legal system and possibly apply this knowledge to judicial reform in China. The Supreme People’s Court in China appears to find his education at Temple Law School a worthy endeavor, as they provided an airline ticket for Cai and paid him through this summer. “China is a developing country and the American legal system has been around for hundreds of years,” Cai said. “China needs to learn more from the United States’ system in many areas, especially commercial and economic law. These two countries are different political systems with different legal traditions. Any person who wants to reform the Chinese legal system cannot simply work like a copy machine; we should know not only what the United States law is, but also know why the law is like this.” Both fellows Selena Zhang and Dawn Chen noted that a major difference between the Chinese and American legal systems is the focus on precedent in American law and how this focus affects a practicing lawyer. “The American legal system is based on case law,” Chen said. “Cases are viewed by precedent; in China, we don’t view cases this way. China’s legal system involves fixed statutes, and decisions are not based on specific cases.” Zhang said that the American focus on case law requires lawyers to do more legal research than is required of Chinese lawyers. “The study of American law is more difficult than Chinese law,” Zhang said. “We have to spend a good deal of time reading cases because of the law itself, and there is much more background knowledge and specific details that we must look up.” The fellows said firms in China range from larger in size than Reed Smith to much smaller. They said they were impressed with the management and organization at the firm and referred to the attorneys as “diligent” and “professional.” “This is a good experience and chance for me to combine laws and legal practice together and get a chance to understand how the law firms operate,” Zhang said. Cai said that his experience has been enjoyable and educational so far, and that he hopes Reed Smith attorneys are learning from him as he is learning from them. “We hope we can provide a deeper understanding of China and its legal system to Reed Smith,” Cai said. “We also hope we can develop a lasting professional relationship which will continue after we leave for China.”

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