I was always an internationally, or even globally, oriented individual that wanted to work in a leading international law firm. This aspirations is rooted in my interest in different cultures, languages, visiting new places and meeting new people. This is the reason why I chose to study a unique International Law degree at Lancaster University with an ERASMUS Year Abroad in the Netherlands. My international background and interest in travelling and learning about new cultures always spurred me to find ways to travel and work at the same time. Specifically, I was always interested in China, its unique culture, language and legal system, which is due to my international law studies at Lancaster University.
Over the last 9 years I travelled around much of Europe, especially during my ERASMUS Year Abroad, where I met many people from Asia, including China, South Korea, Japan, Singapore and many others. This experience further strengthened my aspiration to visit China and Asia in general. Furthermore, this was reinforced by the fact that I am originally from Russia and heard that there are a lot of similarities between the two countries. CRCC Asia offered me this unique opportunity to travel, experience Chinese culture and work in a Chinese law firm.
I wanted to get out of this program an understanding of the Chinese business culture, legal environment and legal profession. This is, of course, on top of my underlying aims of travelling, meeting new people and getting an insight into Chinese way of life and language. Nevertheless, I believe that CRCC Asia Internship Program helped me gain valuable practical experience, which will be relevant to my future career. The international character of my future legal career is likely to put me in contact with China, which is, arguably, the only remaining mystery of the globalised world. Therefore, gaining this early exposure to China and the way business is conducted in this country will prove invaluable even for people that already secured jobs or internships back home.
I would like to reiterate further that the CRCC Asia Internship Program is a fantastic way to differentiate any aspiring student in a very competitive job market. The type of experience that you gain in a completely alien environment, especially without knowledge of the language, will make you much more independent and develop numerous skills employers look for in their candidates. It will increase your confidence in facing new challenges and think on your feet during your interviews and future careers. In fact, in the English-speaking countries candidates that went out of their way to obtain international internships are much more widely sought by multi-national corporations and international law firms. During my interviews that took place before CRCC Asia Internship Program, I was constantly questioned about my ERASMUS Year Abroad, the challenges I faced studying there and organising a charity event in a different country, which required me to lead over 100 people.
Drawing parallels with CRCC Asia Internship Program, your internship in China will place you in a challenging environment, which will require you to work in big teams that will contain many individuals from different cultural backgrounds. The employers will question you on the challenges you faced, the best moments of the internship, cultural differences you experienced and the travelling you undertook. I cannot reiterate enough the importance of travel questions I was asked during my interviews because it shows independence, confidence, organisational, negotiating, networking, communication and many other skills. Overall, CRCC Asia Internship Program is exactly the experience that will differentiate aspiring students from their competitors that come out of university without substantial experience.
During CRCC Asia Internship Program I took part in a one month legal internship in a leading Shanghai law firm. I was given a variety of tasks throughout this month from simple proof reading and help in translating legal documents to drafting contracts for multi-million yuan international joint ventures and attending arbitration and negotiation meetings with the founder of the firm. I was looked after by a senior partner, who is also the founder of the firm, and a Chinese intern. All the people in the firm were Chinese, which enriched my experienced further. I also found that the quality of my work and performance led the supervisors and even other partners of the firm giving me more and more complex tasks and responsibilities.
In my first week I was given primarily proof reading tasks and assisting in translation of Chinese precedents to English. However, within only 4 days the quality of my work and creativity landed me designing two of the law firm’s websites and researching employment laws of 5 countries and comparing them to the Chinese employment law. Consequently, the partner said that my designs will be adopted for the firm’s websites and I written literally everything for these two websites starting from profile of the firm and senior staff to comparing different employment and company laws. The second week brought with it an increased work load with me finishing the research for the websites and also worked on two significant deals for the firm. First of these was an international joint venture between a Finnish and two Chinese companies, which planned to list the whole venture within 2 years. I was lucky enough to join the deal at an early stage and review the first proposals for the joint venture agreement. I even got the chance to communicate with the other side by sending them a rather strict message that the current contract does not reflect the preliminary negotiations between the three companies. I then was involved in drafting the new contract. Moreover, I was involved in an ensuing arbitration between a Swiss and Chinese companies worth over 20 Million Yuan (approx. £2.5m). The latter being one of the main suppliers of plastic products for cars to the likes of Toyota, Volkswagen, General Motors and others.
My final two weeks involved visits to the Shanghai Equity Exchange, networking with investment bankers and attending further client meetings with a number of partners. I also carried out research on the ‘Over-The-Counter’ securities markets in the USA, UK and China, which was used to advise a client for listing on the Shanghai Equity Exchange. I also produced marketing material for potential clients in English and made 1 hour presentations every Friday on different laws in the UK and other countries. These presentations were attended by all the senior staff, which made the experience even more exciting. Furthermore, I had an opportunity to draft and send a request for payment of guarantee to a global bank, which was worth millions of yuan. Hence, during my internship I got involved in a number of very important tasks and my work will continue to influence future work of the law firm. I also acquired important business contacts and now keep in touch with my supervisors, as well as a number of other legal professions and investment bankers.
As for the social side of the internship, CRCC Asia organised induction, airport pick up, welcome banquet and a number of events throughout the internship. I especially enjoyed the induction, which had a cultural and business introduction to Chinese work place, and guest presentation from a Chinese businessman, who worked in China and the USA. There were also nights out every week, such as K-TV, which is a karaoke night with some free drinks as well. In general, CRCC Asia did a good job in organising things for us. But the most important thing to mention is the social scene with all the other interns! It was absolutely fantastic! I met over 50 people from Australia, Canada, USA, Japan, New Zealand, Switzerland, Turkey, UK and many others, all of whom loved to have a good night out and relax after a hard week of work.
Shanghai’s social scene is very vast! There is everything from gardens to explore and theatres to clubs either very cheap or very expensive, depending on your tastes. For those that enjoy a good night out, there are many clubs that have free drinks all night after you pay for entrance, which is very cheap, or there are high end clubs along the Bund with single drink costing the same as being back home. So, there is a lot to choose from! In fact, the social scene was so lively that it reminded me of my ERASMUS Year Abroad, which was, by far, the most exciting year of my life! I made many good friends from the interns I met and I am keeping in touch with them after CRCC Asia. We also travelled a lot together around Shanghai, Beijing, an island off the east coast of China called Putoshang and towns surrounding Shanghai, such as Hangzhou.
In conclusion, the CRCC Asia Internship Program is a fantastic opportunity that allowed me to gain amazing experience of practising law in China, learn about Chinese culture and accomplish my underlying aim of travelling and meeting new people. It also allowed me to develop my skills and confidence in my abilities, as well as prepare me for my future legal career. I also experienced what it is like to live ‘on the top of the world’ because in the hotel (which all interns praise) I was staying on the 35th floor and could see pretty much the whole of central Shanghai. Of course, I was lucky in this but the accommodation deserves a praise, with a free gym and pool in the basement. I would definitely recommend this program to all students seeking to experience China and its working culture, as well as travel around with like-minded people! This will especially differentiate and enrich your CV to a huge extent!