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【CHINA DAILY】Competition raises the bar for international law skills

To participate in a nationwide international legal talent competition, Huang Jingmiao spent half a day traveling 1,500 kilometers from Xiangtan, Hunan province, to Beijing.

The 21-year-old first took a bus from Xiangtan to Changsha, Hunan, on the afternoon of May 23, and then boarded a plane to the capital. Due to a flight delay, she arrived at her destination early the next day.

Without taking a break, she locked herself in a hotel room to prepare for the competition, which was held by China University of Political Science and Law on May 25 and 26.

After four rounds of the competition, the senior from Xiangtan University, along with two others, clinched the first prize. Each winner was awarded a scholarship worth 30,000 yuan ($4,140).

"The hardship of the travel was worthwhile, and the outcome was fulfilling," said Huang, who is about to go to Shanghai to further her studies in international law.

"The competition has ended, but my legal journey involving foreign affairs is just beginning," she added.

In order to respond to the national demands of the foreign-related rule of law strategy, CUPL started holding the competition — which is open to all law school students across the country and entirely in English — last year.

Besides moot arbitration and mock negotiation, which are frequently seen in other such contests, participants in the CUPL competition also need to provide legal advice to clients in line with simulated commercial disputes, and answer judges' questions after making presentations on hot legal issues.

"The richer content of the competition is made to comprehensively test participants' abilities in handling international legal matters," said Liu Fei, Chinese co-dean of the China-EU School of Law (CESL) with the CUPL, the organizer of the competition.

"We also want to promote law schools to focus on the cultivation of international legal talents, and encourage law students to become qualified international legal practitioners," Liu added.

From theory to practice

This year's competition involved 59 law students from 39 universities and colleges nationwide, and had as the judges government officials, lawyers, business representatives, and experts from home and abroad.

Ronald Montague Silley, European executive co-dean at the CESL, said the competition is meant to recognize and give awards to students that have shown great capability to become foreign-related legal professionals.

"But, even more importantly, it gives all the participants a chance to practice skills demanded in international legal affairs," said Silley, the primary designer of the competition.

The contest helps participants learn how to deal with counterparties in financial transactions, increase their legal knowledge to explain current topics such as legal risks regarding artificial intelligence, and also decide what dispute resolution method — mediation, arbitration or litigation — is preferred in different circumstances.

"Simply put, what we've done with the competition is incorporate various tasks to make it as realistic as possible, or to make it as close to real practice as possible," he said.

"In this way, students can get a taste for what is going to be expected of them in the future, but they can also practice the fundamental skills that are not always taught in law schools, which are focused more on theoretical and doctrinal learning," he added.

In the first round of the competition, for example, the contestants were temporarily divided into five legal advisory groups. They were required to provide legal advice and solutions to the clients, who were played by the judges, based on disputes arising in different scenarios, such as an international sale of goods, overseas investment, and cross-border mergers and acquisitions.

Han Zhongyuan, a first-year CESL postgraduate student, said before the competition he did not have a good understanding of how to give legal advice to enterprises.

"But through researching materials, collaborating with other contestants, and receiving feedback from the judges, I've been able to improve my ability in this area," he explained.

Silley said, "the competition tells law school students that they have to be dynamic and versatile enough to be able to deal with different foreign work," and stressed the importance of these valuable skills for someone who wants to be a successful international legal professional.

Innovation and challenges

Meng Fanqin, a counsel from the Global Law Office who was invited to serve as a judge, regards the competition as an innovation in international legal talent education. He said the simulated commercial disputes and negotiation scenarios were similar to real cases he has tackled at his practice.

"It's a great practical experience as well as a big challenge for participants," said Meng, who specializes in foreign-related legal cases including corporate mergers and acquisitions, investment funds and construction engineering.

While requiring students to understand legal issues, the competition also demands they express themselves clearly, communicate well, and demonstrate effective teamwork and strong logical thinking, he added.

Despite having years of law research experience, and studying in Switzerland, Xiong Jun, a postgraduate student doing civil and commercial law at Renmin University of China, still felt under pressure during the competition.

"Presenting legal risks to clients in English within a short time, and building a temporary group with unfamiliar competitors to negotiate or arbitrate on business disputes are both very challenging," the 24-year-old said.

Unlike other tests that allow teachers to offer training in advance, the competition requires participants to prepare and solve all problems on their own, meaning many unforeseen situations may arise, she added.

Xiong said that she appreciated the challenge, "because the perspectives of other competitors and the feedback from the judges have broadened my view on international disputes and inspired me to think deeply about legal issues."

"In other words, the competition was a collision of different ideas, and also a process of realizing my shortcomings."

Inspiration, guidance

The competition also helped Xiong discover more areas involved in international legal affairs. "The better the understanding, the clearer future career planning will be," she said.

Han, the contestant from the CESL, was inspired by the competition. He said it's a platform for law students to exchange ideas and knowledge, "and also an opportunity for us to know what an international legal talent should be."

Zhang Qing, a law professor at CUPL, praised this year's participants' fluency in English and quick responses, saying this showed the "big progress" made by China in foreign-related legal talent education.

He said the shortcomings of students identified during the competition as well as the scholarships awarded, will motivate the participants to further research relevant legal issues and enhance their learning capabilities.

The legal experience and feedback shared by the judges, especially those from law firms and international enterprises, will help guide the young students' careers and further their studies, Zhang added.

"We hope more law students can improve their ability to analyze international legal problems and develop their English-language proficiency through the competition and our joint educational programs with Europe," said Liu, the Chinese co-dean of the CESL.

"We also hope to help strengthen their cross-cultural communication skills in more fields, such as commerce, the environment, intellectual property, taxation and employment," he added.

The CESL is the first law school approved by the Ministry of Education under the Sino-Foreign Schools Agreement. Since its establishment in 2008, it has cultivated over 1,400 Chinese foreign-related legal talents.


本文转自CHINA DAILY。原文链接:https://enapp.chinadaily.com.cn/a/202406/03/AP665cfe27a310115ef0674cc5.html