Insider’s look at legal services in China: Having a lawyer on retainer: Costs and Coverage (Part 17 of 17)

Having China-based, English-speaking legal counsel on retainer is a cost effective way to avoid pitfalls and ensure your business strategy is sound. Counsel is not only there to get you out of the occasional crisis but can help improve the day-to-day running of your businesses.

If you are importing, exporting or based in China, General Counsel can assist in the following areas:

Drafting various legal documents, Negotiations with Chinese based entities, Contract review & creation, Legal opinion, Government relations, Intellectual property protection, Regulatory compliance, Corporate governance, Labor law, Tax codes, Mergers & acquisition, Due diligence, Litigation and Crisis management


Typical Clients/ Services Provided

China-based, Foreign-owned (Factories, Trading Companies, Distributors, Retailers and Service Providers)

Counsel ranges from helping the client choose the right business structure (Joint Venture, Wholly Owned Foreign Enterprise, Representative Office) to on-going support of the established business (Regulatory Compliance, Corporate Governance, Labor Law, Tax Codes, Intellectual Property, Mergers & Acquisition, Due Diligence, Litigation, Negotiation Support, Crisis Management and Government Relations).

Overseas-based clients (Import/Exporters, Service Providers and other entities doing business with China but not based in China)

Counsel ranges from helping the client choose the right partners and strategy for China to on-going support of the business (Regulatory Compliance, VAT Planning, Intellectual Property, Due Diligence, Litigation, Negotiation Support, Crisis Management and Government Relations).


Fee Structure

At the law firm where I serve on the board of advisors, the retainer for General Counsel is invoiced in blocks of time. The larger the block of time purchased, the bigger the discount. The hours in a block of time are allocated equally over a 12 month period and invoiced on a quarterly basis.

The minimum block is 36 hours and the cost per month is 3000 RMB.  When purchasing bigger blocks of retainer time, the savings (as opposed to paying by the hour) are substantial. For example, a 60 hour block of time saves 42,000 RMB per year.

As a reference point, the rate for non-retainer clients is 1600 RMB/hour for a Sr. Lawyer and 900 RMB /hour for Jr. Associates. Emergency counsel over Chinese holiday/weekends is available and invoiced at 3X.


Feel free to contact the author if you have further questions or would like an introduction to the lawyers referenced in this blog post.

About the author: Mike Bellamy

Advisory Board Member & Featured Blogger at the not-for-profit China Sourcing Information Center ( Author of “The Essential Reference Guide to China Sourcing” and founder of PassageMaker Sourcing Solutions.

1 Comment

  1. Gope_earthling on June 5, 2014 at 12:42 pm

    yes would like to have china based , partnered with overseas company, lawyer details, because worried local lawyer might support local people for any reason ( sentiments, money etc )

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