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Shenzhen’s Qianhai opens up its legal services to a wider world by breaking institutional barriers


Last September, the Chinese government unveiled the Plan for Comprehensively Deepening the Reform and Opening-up of the Qianhai Shenzhen-Hong Kong Modern Service Industry Cooperation Zone (“Qianhai Plan”). The total area of the Qianhai cooperation zone, according to the Plan, is set to expand from 14.92 square kilometers to 120.56 square kilometers to build a hub for higher levels of openness, including on the legal front.

Three of the 21 Hong Kong and Macao lawyers granted recently a lawyer’s license in Shenzhen, came to Qianhai. It represents an institutional innovation in China’s legal services, and Qianhai’s new endeavor to remove barriers in this area.

Wu Jiansheng, publicity chief of the Qianhai Belt and Road Legal Services Federation said, “A connected legal service is essential for Hong Kong’s integration into the development of the Greater Bay Area (GBA). Many Hong Kong lawyers are licensed to practice law worldwide, and they will be an important force in the GBA to promote the Belt and Road Initiative.”

To allow Hong Kong lawyers an easier access to the mainland, the Federation has organized multiple dialogues between governmental bodies of Hong Kong and Qianhai for a continued service and policy support, from the life necessities to procedural assistance. “The Federation established a Shenzhen-Hong Kong in-depth cooperation zone for legal services and international centers for legal services cooperation and commercial mediation,” said Wu. Some lawyers from Hong Kong said those platforms offer opportunities of a professional development in Qianhai and even in the GBA.

William Ng, a lawyer born and raised in Hong Kong and recently licensed to practice law in the GBA, said he opted for a professional career in Qianhai because of its proximity to Hong Kong, “but above all, Qianhai has enjoyed sound development for the past few years.”

“Qianhai’s legal services have now grown ‘ultra-popular’,” said Wei Lin, Managing Partner at PC Woo & Zhonglun WD LLP, a Qianhai-based law firm, in an interview. “An increasing number of individuals and institutions providing legal services, including those from Hong Kong, are being drawn to Qianhai. And I found that many more law firms have sprung up since we launched our business in the Qianhai Kerry Center in 2021,” he added.

Put into operation this January, the Qianhai Shenzhen-Hong Kong International Legal-Services District is now home to 122 legal institutions, including China (Shenzhen) Intellectual Property Protection Center. Of 15 law firms jointly run by lawyers from Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao, seven are established in Qianhai. This May, the authority of the Qianhai Shenzhen-Hong Kong Modern Service Industry Cooperation Zone released interim measures for bringing high-end legal services to the International Legal-Services District, in order to attract legal institutions and talented lawyers from Hong Kong and Macao.

“The past few years have seen an increase in foreign-related services and an influx of multilingual lawyers with backgrounds in legal affairs. Overall, we are optimistic about Qianhai’s emergence as a world-class hub for legal services,” said Lin.

Source: Authority of Qianhai Shenzhen-Hong Kong Modern Service Industry Cooperation Zone