Wayne Law LL.M. degree an advantage for Beijing lawyer

When Beijing lawyer John Chu was presented with an opportunity to transfer to General Motors (GM) headquarters in Detroit from Beijing in 1999, he took advantage of it. The experience allowed him to learn about the American legal system and how Americans do business--knowledge that has made him a highly sought-after attorney in Beijing.

"I decided to make the most of my time in the United States and study American law at Wayne State University Law School because I think the U.S. is home to one of the most developed legal systems in the world," said Chu, who had practiced law in China for 12 years, including three years at GM in Beijing. "It is very different from the Chinese legal system, which is part of the continental legal system, and the case laws interest me a lot. As commercial transactions between China and the United States continue to grow, I felt it was very important for me to learn American laws."

He earned his LL.M. degree from Wayne Law in 2001, taking classes in the evening while working full-time at GM for three years. And though it was demanding to work all day and go to school at night, his American law degree has benefited his career tremendously.

Chu returned to GM in China in 2001 as general counsel of the truck joint venture in Shenyang, and later went back to GM in Beijing. In 2008, he returned to Jun He, the law firm he co-founded in 1989 that specializes in international transactions, which is today one of the largest law firms in China. He serves as an attorney in the firm's Corporate and Mergers and Acquisitions departments.

"I am acting as counsel for American Fortune 100 companies and some fast growing Chinese companies," he said. "Recently, I assisted the Beijing Automotive Investment Company in acquiring the IP assets of Saab, the former Swedish arm of GM." He also assisted Sinopec, a company among the Top 10 Global Fortune 100, to acquire a $3 billion finance facility for a project in Tianjin, China, an endeavor that was nominated as the "Financing Project of 2010" by Asia Legal Business magazine.

According to Chu, learning first-hand about how Americans approach business was the most valuable lesson learned at Wayne Law. "There is a cultural gap between Chinese and American business people," he said. "Most frequently, Chinese and Americans are thinking the same thing, but talking in different languages. Wayne Law gave me the opportunity to learn how Americans approach an issue, and now I am able to explain a Chinese issue to American clients in the way that they may understand."

It's no surprise to Wayne Law Professor Julia Qin that Chu has succeeded in international business. "What impressed me most about John is his intellectual curiosity about U.S. society and culture, and his ability to understand law in its broad social, political and economic contexts," said Qin, who taught Chu in International Business Transactions.

Chu has established himself as an accomplished international lawyer on two continents, but he still feels a connection to his alma mater in Detroit. He is eager to meet up with other Wayne Law alumni working in Asia or with Asian businesses. "I hope that Wayne Law alumni in the United States may contact me more especially when they are doing business in China," he said. "China is now a major player in world economy." Chu may be reached by e-mail at chuhj@junhe.com.

In addition to his master of laws degree from Wayne Law, Chu has a bachelor's degree in English from Beijing Foreign Studies University, a master of laws degree in Chinese law from the Graduate School of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and a doctoral degree in economics from the People's University of China.

Published: Thu, Dec 2, 2010


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