Goodbody signs placement deal with Chinese institutes

Wed, Mar 28, 2012, 01:00

IRISH LAW firm AL Goodbody has signed a deal with 15 of China’s top law firms and universities to provide candidates for its placement programme, which it believes will boost investment between the two countries.

The placement programme is the first of its kind and is designed to be a long-term collaborative initiative, A&L Goodbody managing partner Julian Yarr said. He likened it to the firm’s successful move to New York in the 1970s.

“There are benefits already and we see the influence on work but it will run for decades to come,” said Mr Yarr, speaking ahead of the launch ceremony, which featured a rousing performance of Riverdance by Chinese dancers.

“We believe this will significantly enhance our ability to service Chinese clients interested in setting up operations in Ireland and Europe, as well as offering Irish firms doing business in China unique expertise and insight through our Chinese lawyers, who are sitting with us in Dublin.”

At a signing ceremony for the initiative, Taoiseach Enda Kenny described the internship scheme as a “brilliant, pioneering initiative”. Sun Qiang, an attorney at the Global Law Office in Beijing, hopes to build on her knowledge of restructuring, mergers and acquisitions, and IPOs: “They offer good conditions and it’s a chance for a different set of experiences, especially in common law.”

The Chinese firms participating in the programme act for most of China’s biggest companies, including many with a presence in Europe or with outbound investment strategies.

The legal world in China is still a relatively new phenomenon, as most private firms have started up only in the last few years. Lawyers are hungry for experience of different legal systems and working environments, and also for opportunities to learn abroad.

Goodbody pays the salaries and accommodation for those on the placement course, and the Chinese lawyers have the opportunity to work in-house with clients or Government agencies, including CRH, Elan, Pfizer, Icon, Davy, Bank of Ireland, AIB, GE, Telefónica O2, Treasury Holdings/TCT, IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland.

“The experience has been enriching for the firm, our partner Chinese firms and our clients, who have benefited from the considerable knowledge and expertise of the exceptional lawyers in the programme,” said John Given, corporate partner and head of the firm’s China group.

The addition of summer internship students from Peking University and East China University of Political Science and Law will also boost the talent pool.

Goodbody started the programme in 2010 with the first four lawyers doing placements. A further seven lawyers are currently working in Goodbody’s Dublin office.