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China Law and Its Development

China Child Custody and Criminal Defense Matter

Here is the scenario.  Children come into state custody. There is protracted litigation because there was also a companion criminal case involving both parents. Each parent has two attorneys who are all working together (mostly).  In the middle of the proceedings (January, 2012) the department files a petition for child support for the kids.  Parents not served, attorneys not served.  In May, 2013 after all litigation in all matters has been resolved, parents get a hearing notice for child support. I ended up attending the hearing on behalf of both parents (who are still together and married) and assumed that someone had been served with the petition.

It is only when I am at the status conference that I realize that my clients have never seen the petition, the department cannot produce any evidence that it was ever served on anyone, and that it was filed in January, 2012. Department seeking support from January, 2012 - March, 2013 (when the last case was resolved). I practice criminal law and a China family lawyer.

I only ended up on the child support case because I ended up working most closely with the parents during all the litigation and I was responsible for getting criminal charges dismissed.  The parents asked me to assist with child support because, of the four lawyers, I was really the only one to do anything substantive. I am a bit out of my area of expertise here.  I understand that child support can go back to the date of the petition, but not serving the parents for 17 months and then seeking retroactive support seems to be a huge due process issue.

 

Long Hours We Work As Litigation Lawyer in China

I have had trial last until midnight in three separate trials.  The court had a compressed schedule and the trial could not run into the next week.  As a litigation lawyer, I had to get the case to the judge by the time we left in both cases.  Closing arguments started the next morning at 9.  They were not all-nighters, but very little sleep.  It is amazing the adrenaline flowing during a full day trial.  You can survive without much sleep.

As a trial attorneys I just concluded their day at 10 p.m. tonight , having started at 8:30 a.m. this morning.  A 13 and a half hour day .  And they have to be in court tomorrow at 8 a.m. 

Just wondering if any of my colleagues in other Chinese cities put in long hours in the courtroom like they did , and whether those guys go without sleep in order to prepare for court the next day. As a trial attorney you have to choice -  litigate the case in court again and again.

 

Temporary Restraining Order In Divorce Cases Under Chinese Law

One of my client inquired as below:

Wife obtained a restraining order against the Husband. Husband did not appear for the 10 -day hearing, so the 209A abuse prevention order was automatically extended for a year. Apparently, the Husband filed a Motion to Vacate the restraining order. Wife was never served with a copy of the Motion to vacate, nor did she receive a copy in the mail. The only reason she even found out about the Motion to Vacate is because I represent her in her divorce case against Husband and it happened to be mentioned in pleadings filed in the divorce case. However, the date mentioned in the court pleadings is wrong and even if Wife were to rely on the information contained in the pleadings, she would have showed up on a wrong date. The restraining order and the divorce are two separate matters filed in different courts. The Motion to Vacate is scheduled to be heard this coming Thursday. Would you advice Wife not to come for the hearing as she did not received a proper notice of it?

 

The Time When I Am An Young Lawyer Doing An Interview

Now I am an experienced China lawyer practicing with confidence, but I still remember the days I was a young attorney.

At that time I met a young reporter at the newspaper here in Shenzhen. She was interested in doing a profile on me and my journey as a blind lawyer opening my own practice. I was a little hesitant at first, not wanting to become known as "that blind lawyer," but I eventually decided to do it, not feeling as though I could pass up on the free chance to promote my business.

Fast-forward to today. The article came out this morning and was pretty well done. So well that, much to my terror, I've now been invited to do a live radio interview later this afternoon. So now I'm sitting here, very nervously. There's a huge difference between talking to a print reporter for an hour and potentially doing 30 minutes of a live broadcast.

I don't really have any questions, I just felt the need to type something about it, I guess to help get out this nervous energy.

Life is so good to be a lawyer here in China.

 

China Legal Pratice and Pro Bono

I don't think that every type of matter a Chinese lawyer might take on would or should qualify as pro bono based solely on the fact that the client was poor.

Of course we don't even know what "poor" means in this context.

I see the point in so far as if a client was being evicted wrongly or wanted to adopt a child, e.g., and couldn't pay a legal fee because they were poor, then the lawyer who took on the case I think yes this is probably valid pro bono work, and yes I may have gone to far in my statement regarding that an "organization" needs to be involved.

On the other hand, suppose the "poor" client needed legal help with the merger of his corporation, and the lawyer performed that work at no cost. Is this pro bono? I don't think so. And I think there are a lot of examples of matters a lawyer might handle which obviously benefit only that particular client. I don't think that every single case should count as 'pro bono' based only on the criteria that the client could not pay. Maybe the phrase 'for the public good' has an ill defined definition, and I don't know who decides what's pro bono and what isn't. I'm okay with allowing the individual attorney to decide, as you've suggested, so long as there's some aspect of the matter which is in the public interest, as that phrase is defined by the China attorney.

What a pity! Very few China law firms are offering pro bono legal service to the public!

 
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I am a licensed China lawyer. Most clients are foreign nationals and companies. China Lawyer Blog have associates in Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Guangzhou, Suzhou, Nanjing, Qingdao, Fuzhou, Hainan, Hefei, Wuhan, Xian, Changsha, Xiamen and Hangzhou. Learn More

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China Lawyer BLog AuthorPeter Zhu, an experienced China attorney licensed to practice law for more than ten years, the author of this China Lawyer blog, welcomes any enquiry or consultation related to Chinese law.