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Oct 31, 2011

Legal Fees in China: Fear the Cheap

We have a phrase in Texas, something about the difference between a steer and a cow, I don’t remember how it goes, but it’s kind of like the British one – Pennywise and Pound Foolish. 

This can be used to describe those who try to save a few dollars (used to be a penny back in the 1600′s) and it ends up costing them a lot more in the long term.  Old Chinatex gets a lot of enquiries from people and companies that want to do business in Asia-Pacific.  They think that just because factories makes stuff real cheap here in China, that things like quality legal counsel should also be cheap. 

As many of you may know, Hong Kong and it’s neighbor city in China (Shenzhen) are two of the most expensive cities, as ranked by Mercer, in the world and that while making stuff is still cheap, helping those who make stuff keep their money is not. 

Now, I know what you are thinking “those *#!% lawyers” – well that’s what you will be saying if you trust somebody who is not a lawyer or even worse, a local lawyer to handle your matter.  Reminds me of one of the first legal matters I witnessed here in China.  Foreign (U.S.) company comes to China to build a entertainment facility in a shopping mall.  Against the advice of those who know better, they hire a local lawyer for numerous reasons  - one of them being he is cheaper.  Unbeknownst to them, the lawyer was good friends with the lawyer for the shopping mall and they had struck a deal where the savings to the shopping mall owner from the negotiations would be shared equally between the two lawyers and the mall owner.  True story and I fear not a rare one.

Now, Old Frank has been helping people in Hong Kong and China who are in trouble and who don’t want to be in trouble and who want to make good money and keep it – for many years.  I don’t want to see y’all be Pennywise and Pound Foolish when having somebody advise you on your business, which to many of you is your life.  Better just be careful, make sure you get references if you have any doubt who you are hiring and expect to spend what you would spend in your country for similar quality services. 

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SeanHayes@ipglegal.com