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​CESL Alumni Interview– Zhang Dalei

Zhang Daleigraduated from the double master’s programme of the China-EU School of Law in 2017, with a master’s degree from the China University of Political Science and Law and a master’s degree from Universität Hamburg. He also was an intern at Beijing King & Wood Law Firm for seven months, mainly engaged in acquisition and mergers.

Zhang Daleinow works at Zhong Lun law firm and is temporarily transferred to All China Lawyers Association. In this article, he shares his job-seeking experience withyounger students.

Why did you want to join Zhong Lun Law Firm?

Zhong Lun Law Firm is belongs to the so-called Red Circle, that is a term to define eight top-tier law firms in China, which makes it also a trustworthy brand. Its internal system was attractive to me, it offers different stages of a legal career, where you can proceed in nine years from a lawyer to a partner. During the new employee orientation training you’ll meet representatives of all stages. So the promotion system is quite transparent. Compared with other law firms, this is really good. Moreover, Zhong Lun is relatively democratic, people are really patient when the team discusses, partners are open to suggestions, and opinions are respected. In addition, the law firm offers good social benefits, big pay increases, an excellent team and I have a nice boss.

How is the recruiting process at Zhong Lun?I was employed after two interviews. Generally, the process includes a written test and an interview. When you pass the written test, you are invited to an interview and asked to hand in a CV before . Usually, there are two interviews, only some teams require just one. I had one with the director of human resources, and another one with the lawyer Zhang Xuebing who’s team I joined.

The written test covered a Chinese-English translation and a case analysis. The former is mainly the translation of contract terms or articles of association, such as “contract of guarantee” or “financial contract”. The latter is a comprehensive question on civil and business law, which might involve company law, property law, contract law, etc. I’d recommend to focus on the exact question of the case analysis as it might be an open question with more than one answer and you can answer the question from different positions.

As for the interview, the first one is relatively standardised. At first, you introduced yourself in both Chinese and English; then, HR or the partner asks some questions on your CV such as “why do you want to be a lawyer”, “why did you choose a firm working mostly in company law”, “why do you want to work at Zhong Lun”. You can get prepare for these questions if just think of some answers in accordance with your situation. Besides, they may ask about your internship experience, for instance, “what did you do at King & Wood”. As for the second interview, different partners may focus on different aspect or have their own distinct style. So this is relatively different to control. Please be decent and polite during the interview, rather than overcautious or embarrassed, just be flexible. In addition, pay attention to etiquette and dress formally. I’d also recommend to girls to wear little make-up. Perfume is forbidden.

What do you think is the reason for the final decision for recruitment at Zhong Lun’s?

I will take myself as an example. The first reason might be the degree. I graduated from the China-EU School of Law, and Zhang Xuebin is a CUPL alumni, and also a member of the board of trustees, and he paid lots of attention to the development of the school. Of course, he considers CESL graduate in the recruitment. Secondly, the internship experience might have been a reason. I gained a lot of experience in the seven-month practice at King & Wood. This really matters, since law is a practical discipline. Thirdly, you must have something to attract the partner. I think that I am careful and pragmatic. More importantly, you should make others to feel your sincerity. It’s good to make partners believe that you are reliable, but do not be smooth-tongued.

What do you think is the greatest advantage of China-EU School of Law?Having studied at the China-EU School of Law is quite helpful for my work. I had not received systematical law education before, and I started to learn the laws systematically in the school to pursue the master of law. The China-EU School of Law offers an international horizon, which happens to coincide with the development concept of large law firms. Whether King & Wood or Zhong Lun, both aim to become internationally operating law firms established in the Chinese legal service market, which is similar to the aim of the China-EU School of Law to integrate China and the West. This law school was also established in China, to learn from the laws of EU and to exchange views with other countries. The aim is to serve China, but with an international mindset on law. A second advantage is the language training, many students participate in the VIS Moot, and speak fluent English. The English teaching in the second year of the graduate programme also enhances our English proficiency, and we would communicate in English and accomplish English-related projects more easily. With the LL.M. degree from Universität Hamburg, people think that you have been abroad which the interviewers seemed to appreciate.

What is the most unforgettable moments among your working experiences?The working experience at All China Lawyers Association was unique and unforgettable. I was lucky to meet numerous legal experts, and I was really excited to work with them. I was in charge of the work in the international department of All China Lawyers Association, so I had chances to welcome foreign officials, such as the Attorney General of Italy, the Secretary of Justice of Saudi Arabia, the Attorney General of the Ukraine, the Attorney General of Finland, etc.. In addition, elite lawyers from across the country gather at All China Lawyers Association and discuss about the development of the legal profession. For me, who just enters this sector, it is really unforgettable to meet so many experienced lawyers. Of course, it’s an honour to meet core leaders of the legal profession from the state level, including the secretary of the Chinese Minister of Justice Zhang Jun, vice secretary Xiong Xuanguo, the heads of law firms and the Secretary of All China Lawyers Association, and to understand the policies for future development.

How is life as a lawyer?

Lawyers should stand by at any time. Without exaggeration, some lawyers would carry a laptop wherever they go, for instance, they may open the laptop to send emails immediately after playing badminton. Once assigned with tasks, you must finish on time. Generally, lawyers would go to work at 9 a.m., and leave at about 7 or 8 p.m., with a break at noon. Sometimes during busy days, for instance, when I was at King & Wood, I worked till 1 or 2 in the morning, and even till 3 or 4 a.m. for nearly half a month, and then slept for three to four hours. Lawyers live at a fast pace, with high demands on themselves, and they are usually busy and work overtime.

Concerning the general tasks of the job, for instance, the non-litigation business, like acquisition and mergers; at first, you check the files, you correct the format, wrongly written characters, ill-formed sentences, etc. on one hand, and learn about the basic procedures of the work field on the other hand; you also do due diligence work, such as checking files for the Bureau of Industry and Commerce, letters of patent, real estate, leasing and business contracts, etc. Thirdly, you conduct legal research. New problems are always encountered in legal practices, and you have to study them. Finally, to draft legal documents and files, and it is this ability that lawyers need to acquire. At the beginning, you may draft some basic files, such as an equity transfer agreement or the history of a company.

In addition, social contacts are also important, such as the communication with clients and colleagues. Of course, there are some entertainment activities in the law firm, like the annual meeting, dinner with team members, team building activities, etc.

What do you recommend toyounger students?

First of all, it’s really important to improve your English, to study carefully, and to make full use of the abundant resources of both China and Europe. Work seriously, this is of great importance. Whatever you do, just do it carefully and earnestly, to enrich your life. In addition, please keep being kind and sincere. The affinity to interviewers is mainly related to your accomplishments, and it is vital to demonstrate your kindness to others. You may start right now to be kind while contacting classmates, teachers or strangers. Eventually, believe in justice. You may encounter some things you have never heard or met before, and it may make you concerned or distressed, and some may be shocking, or even appalling, but please believe in justice, and face other in a tough manner with an open mind, since there will be justice sooner or later.

Writer: Zhang Dalei,Wan Lu (2016 double master student from China-EU School of Law)

Picture: Zhang Dalei (2014 double master graduate from China-EU School of Law)