We recently commented on the potential for a more open legal market in the Middle East, and there are also signs that demand for lawyers with international experience will continue to make this a reality. Matthew Townsend of Asia Legal Business is betting that a lot of this demand will be be created in…China?
|“Chinese investors in the Middle East are becoming increasingly risk-averse, but can law firms seize this opportunity to bring about a change in their PRC clients’ business culture?”
“Chinese investment in the Middle East is expected to increase fast in the coming years, making the Al Reem phenomenon ever more pervasive. Investors are looking to the infrastructure, construction, telecommunications and oil and gas industries where Chinese contractors are already active. However, while the appetite for the region is undiminished, the political and economic shocks of 2011 have clearly taken their toll on investor confidence. Linda Yang, a senior partner at Yingke, notes that clients considering operating in the Arab region are increasingly wary.
However, this atmosphere – a cocktail of enthusiasm and trepidation – may provide legal advisers with a golden opportunity. International law firms have long bemoaned what they see as a lack of legal risk-awareness among some Chinese clients. Lawyers argue that clients do not always appreciate the business need for comprehensive legal planning when implementing large-scale projects. Now the conditions may be right for law firms to drive change in their clients’ business cultures.
The main hurdle for lawyers, aiming to change hearts and minds in this way, has traditionally been the fact that Chinese contractors have had little or no first-hand experience of the value of legal risk-analysis, something which is notoriously difficult to quantify. Now, however, anyone seeking to demonstrate the consequences of inadequate legal risk-planning need look no further than the Mecca light rail project awarded to China Railway Construction Company (CRCC) in 2009.
The benighted scheme, originally valued at $1.8 billion, saw contract term changes and delays as CRCC struggled to complete the 11 mile (18 kilometre) project. CRCC were reportedly held to a tight schedule of 20 months for the first stage of construction, a target that, according to Chinese press reports, was inappropriate for the site, even if it could potentially have been achieved in China. CRCC was also hampered by the Saudi restriction on non-Muslim workers entering Mecca, reputedly a particular problem when it came to sourcing appropriate engineers and other skilled workers.”
Read the full article…
“skilled workers” most certainly applies to lawyers with international experience, and this presents a great opportunity for expats who want to boost their careers and enhance their experience by working in the Middle East or Asia.
To see some of the jobs we have for expatriate and local lawyers in both China and the Middle East, please visit us at Law Alliance.