China Internship at AllBright Law Offices – Week 1

Author: Sanah Butt

Our internship officially started on Thursday last week (29 November) with the 9 of us heading to our respective law firms bright and early. With equal amounts of nerves and excitement we headed for the metro. Little did we expect the excitement the metro ride had in store for us. Peak hour metro rides are very, very different to Adelaide train rides. Essentially, the daily commute involves us making sure we all actually get on the carriage, and no person is left behind. Sometimes we don’t even have to walk on the train, the mass of people trying to get on provides enough of a force that we’re on the train before we know it.

As we walked towards the Shanghai Tower, where the majority of us are conducting our internships at 2 different firms, we each said our goodbyes and headed up to our respective levels to meet the partners we will be interning with for the next 4 weeks. I have been fortunate enough to be placed with a partner at AllBright Law, whose main practice areas are mergers and acquisitions, banking and finance, foreign direct investment, and other general corporate and commercial matters. Up until now, only 3 days in, the work I have been assisting with is mainly proof reading the English translation of Chinese legal documents. This has not only increased my knowledge about certain areas of Chinese law, but actually exposed me to a variety of legal documents and application processes, that I was initially not aware of.

First day, and the 3 of us at AllBright law were given the opportunity to go and observe a court proceeding. We hopped into one of the partners car, along with his associate, also working on the case, and headed to the courts. Once inside and seated, we were quickly exposed to what a more informal court proceeding in China is like. We were made aware of certain cultural and procedural differences in court hearings, such as not standing when the judge walked in, and not referring to the judge as ‘your honour’ when talking to them. Although the proceedings were all in Chinese and so we didn’t understand a thing, observing the nature of the lawyers, and the way each side was communicating, provided us with many points of comparison to court proceedings back home in Australia.

Aside from this one visit, most of the work day is spent assisting our partners associates, and other interns, with any documents written in English that they may need to be proof read or conducting legal research to assist with a current project or matter being worked on.

Dinner is always exciting because it gives us the opportunity to find new places and explore the area around us. Tonight was pretty foggy and wet, but a wet and foggy Shanghai has its own charm, and it was nice to explore the city after the sun went down and all the beautiful lights had been turned on.

Each day is something new, and we’re all looking forward to seeing what the internship has in store for us.

On our walk looking for somewhere to eat


Shanghai Tower


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