find the latest legal job
Corporate/Commercial Lawyers (2-5 years PAE)
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: Adelaide SA 5000
· Specialist commercial law firm · Long-term career progression
View details
Graduate Lawyer / Up to 1.5 yr PAE Lawyer
Category: Personal Injury Law | Location: Brisbane CBD & Inner Suburbs Brisbane QLD
· Mentoring Opportunity in Regional QLD · Personal Injury Law
View details
Corporate and Commercial Partner
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: Adelaide SA 5000
· Full time · Join a leading Adelaide commercial law firm
View details
In-house Legal Counsel & Commercial Lawyers
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: All Sydney NSW
· Providing lawyers with flexibility and control over when they work, how they work and who they work for.
View details
In-house Legal Counsel & Commercial Lawyers
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: All Melbourne VIC
· Providing lawyers with flexibility and control over when they work, how they work and who they work for.
View details
Relationships key to prosperity with Chinese clients

Relationships key to prosperity with Chinese clients

Investing in relationships and developing cultural awareness are critical to fostering a fruitful and longstanding relationship with China, lawyer Robin Chambers has said.

"My firm has made a big investment of time and expense by way of comparison to other competitive law firms who are doing considerable projects with the Chinese but who don’t seem to have any of the cultural awareness," the senior partner of Chambers & Company told Lawyers Weekly.

"With China more than any other foreign country, it is important to understand the culture that you’re dealing with."

Chambers & Company is a Melbourne-based commercial law firm that specialises in international transactions with a special focus on China.

Firms can best approach cultural fluency starting with simple transactional communications, Mr Chambers said. He also pointed to the importance of hospitality to Chinese culture.

"We communicate in Chinese and English – that’s a good start."

"As a firm, we offer hospitality when required. We’re visiting China very often or over in Perth where the Sinosteel head office is located. We spend a lot of time meeting people outside the parameters of providing actual advice and building relationships as you have to do," he said.

Enduring over two decades and forged over trade deals of several million tonnes of Australian iron ore, China has been a prominent feature of Mr Chamber’s working life.

When China’s 1983 Open Door Policy saw its first modern trade investment in Australia, he was there. More than 20 years later, the lawyer has worked for and alongside the Chinese government mostly on joint venture projects in the metallurgical and resources sector.

With an original project cost over $420 million, China’s investment in the Channar Mining venture in Australia’s Pilbara region has been a main feature of that partnership. Mr Chambers is also a director of Sinosteel companies in Australia, which are parties to the joint venture.

"Channar has been a very successful project for China and the profits have been very considerable. It has been one of the most successful and profitable Chinese investments in Australia," Mr Chambers said.

After time working for Wall Street, Mr Chambers spent his early career as the general counsel of CRA Limited -- what is today known as Rio Tinto in Australia. In 1981 he travelled to China as part of an Australian legal delegation when the state took first steps towards participation in global trade following a long hiatus.

"In 1981, as part of Australia’s first legal delegation to China, I was invited by Chinese leaders to help draft the China’s legal system but particularly its joint venture law," Mr Chambers said.

"After the Cultural Revolution the whole of China’s legal regulation was five pages long. There were no lawyers, no law firms and no other commercial regulations," Mr Chambers added.

During his time visiting China as a legal delegate, Mr Chambers was privately invited to take tea with Chinese leader Zeng Humin. The encounter set him on a career which has spanned 30 years, deeply enmeshed in the resources sector and Australia-Chinese trade relations.

"Zeng Humin invited me to help draft China’s legal system. They were looking to draft the joint venture law which has been quite central to the inbound investment into china over the ensuing period.

"In 1981 Rio Tinto probably had more joint venture experience than anyone else in the world. We were doing projects in 30 countries and also many of the biggest mining projects in Australia, which were all joint ventures,” Mr Chambers said.

Over the next three years, and with the support of Rio Tinto, Mr Chambers spent significant time in China giving lectures and providing legal advice to its government. By 1984 he had established his own firm and was appointed as the Chinese government’s first foreign lawyer to its Ministry of Metallurgical Industry. Mr Chambers says the professional relationship has prospered ever since.

"Today I’m a director of Sinosteel’s holding companies here in Australia, which run [the Channar] project and I am also on the management committee. For many years I have also sat on the management committee representing the Chinese side," Mr Chambers said.

"I probably have the longest connection with Channar than anyone else I think as it goes back to 1984."

Like this story? Read more:

Book commemorates diamond milestone for WA law society

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

Relationships key to prosperity with Chinese clients
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
90 years Western Australia Law Society
06:03
Book commemorates diamond milestone for WA law society
Ninety years of Western Australia’s legal profession has been recorded in a special publication ce...
Dec 18 2017
Summer in the city
Across Australia, a number of law students have kicked off their commercial law aspirations with the...
microscope
Dec 18 2017
‘Exorbitant legal fees’ under government microscope
With the growing number of class action proceedings in Australia, the government is looking at how ...
APPOINTMENTS
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
opinion
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
Help
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...