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How to get a job in a top law firm

China-EU School of Law Alumna Li Huijun answers five questions

Li Huijuns employer, AnJie, is known as one of the top-tier Chinese law firms in cross border dispute resolution. Before joining AnJie Beijing office as an Associate, she graduated from the China-EU School of Law. An interview on how to get your foot in the door for a dream job.

Why did you want to join AnJie?

I chose AnJie because I was convinced by the high quality of their legal service in dispute resolution. This law firm has a very good reputation among lawyers and clients in this field. Actually, at the time I started looking for a job, I had not quite decided yet to specialise in dispute resolution. I was also being interviewed by law firms specialising in transaction. However, in the end, AnJie was the most convincing option because of its professional dispute resolution team and the challenging working environment.

What was the recruitment process like?

I actually worked as an intern for three months at AnJie before I was formally employed as an Associate. I had spotted the internship opportunity on the China-EU School of Law’s website. I sent my English and Chinese language CVs to the contact person and was invited for a written Chinese-to-English and English-to-Chinese translation test. They liked the results of my test and subsequently invited me to a very challenging interview with one partner, two associates and a foreign counsel who asked me a lot of questions about my educational and practical experiences. But I passed!

How does your everyday routine look like?

I would not call it a routine because each day is different (laughs). I encounter different people and different assignments every day at work. Usually, I get up at 7 a.m. It takes me 45 minutes to get to the office. AnJie requires all Associates to work at the office from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. with a one and a half hour lunch break. However, in my experience, AnJie lawyers are highly dedicated to their work, so working extra hours is common here. Some might even work late until 11 p.m. As I specialise in international commercial arbitration, much of the work I do is documentary work. In the Dispute Resolution Team, each associate usually handles five to ten cases at a time, so time management is very important.

Why do you believe AnJie hired you?

Fluent English is a necessity. But even more important than an excellent command of English, is the international perspective. AnJie is a Chinese law firm that deals with many cross-border legal matters. This requires lawyers to be very familiar with international legal practice as the clients also come from different jurisdictions. That means that China-EU School of Law students have a big advantage. With their international education, they already have their foot in the door of international law firms or law firms practicing international legal matters. I’d also recommend to all law students to do internships in an international environment. I interned at Thomson Reuters, the multinational mass media and information firm, as a Legal Researcher for nearly a year. Part of that job was to introduce the legal database Westlaw to students. The legal research skills I developed in the internship turned out to be rewarding to my current work at AnJie. And the ability to conduct good legal research is also a skill highly appreciated by law firms in junior associates.

What were the most memorable moments during your internships?

My work at the Supreme People’s Court of the People’s Republic of China was very interesting. I interned with a judge for seven months and assisted him with case reviews. I reviewed the files and the evidence that was submitted, and then I wrote case reports for the judge’s reference so that he could decide whether to accept this case at the Supreme Court level. Most cases are not accepted because they failed to fulfill the requirements of acceptance. I also had a lot of communication with people who came to visit the Court for their cases. That was very challenging because most of these people hardly understood the issues in their cases in the legal perspective. Most cases I came across were about commercial contracts. I learned a lot there, not only about drafting case reports, but also how to explain legal opinions to non-jurists.

Li Huijun, 28, graduated from the China-EU School of Law’s Double Master’s programme in 2015 with both an LL.M. in Chinese Law from the China University of Political Science and Law and an LL.M. in European and International Law from the University of Hamburg. During her studies she interned for 11 months at Thomson Reuters and for seven months at the Supreme People’s Court of the People’s Republic of China. Since July 2015, Li Huijun is an Associate at the Chinese law firm AnJie.

Text by Li Huijun and Ursula Zipperer 
Copyright photo: Li Huijun/AnJie