salary localization in International firms' china offices?

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Anonymous User
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salary localization in International firms' china offices?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Aug 10, 2013 12:32 am

I've just finished an internship at a large US firm's Shanghai office. I was told by a lawyer there that most of the US/UK law firms have stopped paying US-trained J.D.s the new york salaries when they work for those firms' offices in China (at least, in the mainland). Also told typical rate for someone with both China and American qualifications is in the range of USD 50K to 70K/ year.

The rationale being firms want to save money by paying their US-trained associates a salary that's higher (but in line) with what their China-trained lawyers get.

Can anyone confirm/rebut this? Would the story be different if you work stateside for a few years and transfer to China?

I speak Chinese and want to practice in China, but also want big law $$$. thanks!

bdubs
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Re: salary localization in International firms' china offices?

Postby bdubs » Sat Aug 10, 2013 1:45 am

I'm not well versed in China in particular, but it seems to make perfect sense for a US firm to pay going wages if the work they have you do is not US specific. The reason that NYC salaries prevail overseas is that associates are generally doing US capital markets or cross border M&A deals that require (or at least the firms strongly prefer) US legal training.

My very cursory understanding is that China heavily restricts what US law firms can do on the mainland and most work that requires US legal training is done in Hong Kong (where the capital markets are for the most part anyway).

TL;DR. Local lawyers doing local work get paid local salaries, US trained lawyer practicing US law abroad get paid US salaries

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Re: salary localization in International firms' china offices?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Aug 10, 2013 2:45 am

Depends on the firm. Probably only the best Wall Street firms still hand out global pay in their mainland offices.
It makes little sense for firms to pay 160K to hire a JD student when they can hire the best local law students for 30-60K. Those students are smart, hard-working, and usually have very good English skills. Many have LLM and NY bar.

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Re: salary localization in International firms' china offices?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Aug 10, 2013 9:42 am

I absolutely concur with the above poster.
I've met with a few local people (at a shanghai office). and they speak excellent english. They do have an accent but definitely not the obtrusive accent some of you expect to find in locals. typical smart foreign JDs at top US schools. Even those who do not have american JD/LLM speak good english.

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Re: salary localization in International firms' china offices?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Aug 10, 2013 9:53 am

what are some of these firms? How about magic circle firms? How about transfers to Chinese offices?

Anonymous User wrote:Depends on the firm. Probably only the best Wall Street firms still hand out global pay in their mainland offices.
It makes little sense for firms to pay 160K to hire a JD student when they can hire the best local law students for 30-60K. Those students are smart, hard-working, and usually have very good English skills. Many have LLM and NY bar.

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Re: salary localization in International firms' china offices?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Aug 10, 2013 9:58 am

It doesn't seem to be the case in the office I worked in. China -trained lawyers have presentable writing skills, but their spoken English is often not that good. Their legal analytical skills are inferior too, when compared to most us-trained lawyers(JDs).

Anonymous User wrote:I absolutely concur with the above poster.
I've met with a few local people (at a shanghai office). and they speak excellent english. They do have an accent but definitely not the obtrusive accent some of you expect to find in locals. typical smart foreign JDs at top US schools. Even those who do not have american JD/LLM speak good english.

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Re: salary localization in International firms' china offices?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Aug 10, 2013 10:02 am

OK -
I just want to clarify - I spoke to 4-5 shanghai-based chinese lawyers and they had american JDs. They all spoke very very good english. I spoke to 1-2 chinese lawyers who have never studied in the US - they spoke very good english too. I don't know - they were senior lawyers at the office and maybe thats the reason. I don't know about those junior lawyers who have never studied in the U.S.

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Re: salary localization in International firms' china offices?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Aug 10, 2013 12:48 pm

OP:

As far as salary localization goes, I know that British firms do not do this to their junior attorneys who are on secondments in branch offices. International US firms will usually transfer you to their China office after training you in the US. Because of Chinese visa restrictions, you need two years experience (there are ways to fudge this legally) before being allowed to work China as an attorney.

You are restricted when providing advice regarding Chinese law. You are only legally allowed to comment on general "trends." This has not been a problem in the past, but it is heating up these days. Crackdowns are coming, like in consulting.

If you spend three years in the US and move to the Mainland office your salary will probably stay the same as it would in the US. To get such a transfer it helps showing language ability or time abroad. The second is actually more important to a lot of people. China can be a demanding place to live, and some people cannot hack it there. If you want China law, litigation is probably not the most helpful background. Corporate/capital markets is the best. Focus on learning an industry. Hospitality seems to be a good one these days, most major flags are adding hotels out in China at a crisp pace. Two others are private education and healthcare, but with healthcare you should know the FCPA in and out.

On Chinese lawyers capabilities: I know quite a few. They are very good at what they do. Their analytical skills are fine for what the Chinese legal market demands. Not all of them speak great English. I know a patent attorney whose spoken English is awful, but he writes responses to invalidation requests like a champ. I've anecdotally heard that there are great Chinese criminal defense lawyers out there, but their English is usually awful. Given the rise in criminal prosecutions of dumbass foreigners skirting Chinese law, expect the demand for these guys, and respectively their English capabilities, to rise. However, keep in mind that Chinese lawyers do not have the same ethical obligations as American lawyers, so in dealing with them economic incentives are important.

The above info is from my personal experience and from the people I know in China. Take the anecdotal evidence as you like.

If you want to chat more, we'll find a way to PM each other.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Sat Aug 10, 2013 12:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: salary localization in International firms' china offices?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Aug 10, 2013 12:49 pm

Anonymous User wrote:what are some of these firms? How about magic circle firms? How about transfers to Chinese offices?

Anonymous User wrote:Depends on the firm. Probably only the best Wall Street firms still hand out global pay in their mainland offices.
It makes little sense for firms to pay 160K to hire a JD student when they can hire the best local law students for 30-60K. Those students are smart, hard-working, and usually have very good English skills. Many have LLM and NY bar.

You mean firms that pay US scale? S&C, STB, Skadden, Cleary, DPW. But it's nearly impossible to start as a first-year associate in these offices. Most people transfer from US offices.
Magic circle firms never pay 160K entry outside the US. A first-year associate in their mainland office probably earns something like 60K.

As for the above comments on English capabilities, students in these days have much better English skills than a few years ago. For selective international firms (Magic Circle & some V10), all their newly hired local students speak very good English. Jobs at these elite international firms are the most coveted and hard-to-get ones for Chinese law students, and in term of selectivity, they are like federal clerkship for US students.

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Re: salary localization in International firms' china offices?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Aug 10, 2013 1:18 pm

Not op, but also interested in knowing more about this topic. A leading us firm's China office is coming to my school's oci and says summer associates recruited by this office will spend most
, if not all, of the summer in China. I take this means you'll work for this office after graduation. My question is if their pay is like one third of the us scale, how can they expect US JDs in top schools accept their offer? To be clear, their academic requirement is not lower than the American offices.
Anonymous User wrote:I've just finished an internship at a large US firm's Shanghai office. I was told by a lawyer there that most of the US/UK law firms have stopped paying US-trained J.D.s the new york salaries when they work for those firms' offices in China (at least, in the mainland). Also told typical rate for someone with both China and American qualifications is in the range of USD 50K to 70K/ year.

The rationale being firms want to save money by paying their US-trained associates a salary that's higher (but in line) with what their China-trained lawyers get.

Can anyone confirm/rebut this? Would the story be different if you work stateside for a few years and transfer to China?

I speak Chinese and want to practice in China, but also want big law $$$. thanks!

Anonymous User
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Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: salary localization in International firms' china offices?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Aug 10, 2013 1:22 pm

MoFo, Latham or OMM?
In that case, I believe the pay will be US scale. These offices also routinely come to my law school, but as far as I know, no one has ever accepted their offers.

Anonymous User wrote:Not op, but also interested in knowing more about this topic. A leading us firm's China office is coming to my school's oci and says summer associates recruited by this office will spend most
, if not all, of the summer in China. I take this means you'll work for this office after graduation. My question is if their pay is like one third of the us scale, how can they expect US JDs in top schools accept their offer? To be clear, their academic requirement is not lower than the American offices.
Anonymous User wrote:I've just finished an internship at a large US firm's Shanghai office. I was told by a lawyer there that most of the US/UK law firms have stopped paying US-trained J.D.s the new york salaries when they work for those firms' offices in China (at least, in the mainland). Also told typical rate for someone with both China and American qualifications is in the range of USD 50K to 70K/ year.

The rationale being firms want to save money by paying their US-trained associates a salary that's higher (but in line) with what their China-trained lawyers get.

Can anyone confirm/rebut this? Would the story be different if you work stateside for a few years and transfer to China?

I speak Chinese and want to practice in China, but also want big law $$$. thanks!

Anonymous User
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Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: salary localization in International firms' china offices?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Aug 10, 2013 1:28 pm

Yep. One of them. Interesting that no one accepted their offer. Haha!
HK offices will be another ball game, right? People seem to really like HK much better than the mainland offices.


Anonymous User wrote:MoFo, Latham or OMM?
In that case, I believe the pay will be US scale. These offices also routinely come to my law school, but as far as I know, no one has ever accepted their offers.

Anonymous User wrote:Not op, but also interested in knowing more about this topic. A leading us firm's China office is coming to my school's oci and says summer associates recruited by this office will spend most
, if not all, of the summer in China. I take this means you'll work for this office after graduation. My question is if their pay is like one third of the us scale, how can they expect US JDs in top schools accept their offer? To be clear, their academic requirement is not lower than the American offices.
Anonymous User wrote:I've just finished an internship at a large US firm's Shanghai office. I was told by a lawyer there that most of the US/UK law firms have stopped paying US-trained J.D.s the new york salaries when they work for those firms' offices in China (at least, in the mainland). Also told typical rate for someone with both China and American qualifications is in the range of USD 50K to 70K/ year.

The rationale being firms want to save money by paying their US-trained associates a salary that's higher (but in line) with what their China-trained lawyers get.

Can anyone confirm/rebut this? Would the story be different if you work stateside for a few years and transfer to China?

I speak Chinese and want to practice in China, but also want big law $$$. thanks!

Anonymous User
Posts: 273233
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: salary localization in International firms' china offices?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Aug 10, 2013 2:03 pm

I don't know about mainland China offices but the Magic Circle firms pay US qualified lawyers in London/HK etc New York market + COLA so it's actually higher than 160k

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:what are some of these firms? How about magic circle firms? How about transfers to Chinese offices?

Anonymous User wrote:Depends on the firm. Probably only the best Wall Street firms still hand out global pay in their mainland offices.
It makes little sense for firms to pay 160K to hire a JD student when they can hire the best local law students for 30-60K. Those students are smart, hard-working, and usually have very good English skills. Many have LLM and NY bar.

You mean firms that pay US scale? S&C, STB, Skadden, Cleary, DPW. But it's nearly impossible to start as a first-year associate in these offices. Most people transfer from US offices.
Magic circle firms never pay 160K entry outside the US. A first-year associate in their mainland office probably earns something like 60K.

As for the above comments on English capabilities, students in these days have much better English skills than a few years ago. For selective international firms (Magic Circle & some V10), all their newly hired local students speak very good English. Jobs at these elite international firms are the most coveted and hard-to-get ones for Chinese law students, and in term of selectivity, they are like federal clerkship for US students.

Anonymous User
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Re: salary localization in International firms' china offices?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Aug 10, 2013 3:55 pm

I summered at a US firm's Hong Kong office. I will be starting there later this fall. My salary is 160k plus COLA.

Salary depends on which area of law you practice and where you are qualified. If you practice HK or China law and you are HK or China qualified, you get local salary. If you practice US law and have NY/CA qualification, you get US big law salary.

Anonymous User
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Re: salary localization in International firms' china offices?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Aug 10, 2013 3:58 pm

Anonymous User wrote:You mean firms that pay US scale? S&C, STB, Skadden, Cleary, DPW. But it's nearly impossible to start as a first-year associate in these offices. Most people transfer from US offices.
Magic circle firms never pay 160K entry outside the US. A first-year associate in their mainland office probably earns something like 60K..


That is flat out wrong. Magic circles pay US associates (people with NY/CA bar qualification and who do US law) US big law salary in London, Hong Kong and other offices. I have also seen a number of US associates (in firms such as S&C, DPW, MoFo, Paul Weiss) with some local experience and language skills to start overseas right away for US firms.

Anonymous User
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Re: salary localization in International firms' china offices?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Aug 10, 2013 4:30 pm

op here. Do you mind sharing with me more of your experience through private messages? Thanks!

Anonymous User wrote:I summered at a US firm's Hong Kong office. I will be starting there later this fall. My salary is 160k plus COLA.

Salary depends on which area of law you practice and where you are qualified. If you practice HK or China law and you are HK or China qualified, you get local salary. If you practice US law and have NY/CA qualification, you get US big law salary.

Chaucer1343
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Re: salary localization in International firms' china offices?

Postby Chaucer1343 » Thu Nov 28, 2013 3:31 am

..
Last edited by Chaucer1343 on Sun Jul 19, 2015 5:11 am, edited 1 time in total.

Anonymous User
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Re: salary localization in International firms' china offices?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Nov 29, 2013 12:58 pm

Target Hong Kong

The people I know who got part-time SA's in the Mainland at v100's were PRC nationals getting JDs in the US

Also, you should realize that the Chinese legal market (from the perspective of western law firms) is currently in flux and trending towards bad

Read this article to get a better sense

http://www.thelawyer.com/analysis/marke ... 90.article

Chaucer1343
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Re: salary localization in International firms' china offices?

Postby Chaucer1343 » Sat Nov 30, 2013 3:54 pm

...




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