36 ASIAN LEGAL BUSINESS CHINA • 亚洲法律杂志-中国版 NOVEMBER 2023 GBA MARKET More than 350 Hong Kong and Macao lawyers have obtained the certificate to practice law in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA) so far in 2023. While licensed Hong Kong lawyers will be able to grow their business in the GBA region, Mainland firms that have been actively attracting GBA lawyers are also convinced that talents from Hong Kong and Macao may help them overtake competitors on their journey of international expansion. BY HU YANGXIAOXIAO 2023年迄今,已有350余位港澳律师领取了粤港澳大湾区律师 执业证书。ALB和首批“拿牌”的香港律师聊了聊他们在大湾区 展业的情况,以及对下一步发展的设想。此外,广泛吸纳大湾区 律师加盟的内地律所也表示,港澳人才或将帮助他们在国际化 发展道路上实现“弯道超车”。作者:胡阳潇潇 STRONGER TOGETHER 厚积薄发 In July 2022, Hong Kong lawyer Junius Ho officially joined ETR Law Firm, headquartered in Guangzhou, becoming the first-ever Greater Bay Area (GBA) lawyer under a new regime established by the Chinese government. This regime permits licensed Hong Kong and Macao lawyers to practice in specific areas within the nine mainland cities of Guangdong. With the recent addition of another Hong Kong lawyer, Li Lianjun, in October, ETR Law Firm has successfully recruited 30 GBA lawyers to date. This achievement signifies that nearly one in ten licensed Hong Kong and Macao lawyers have chosen ETR Law Firm as the platform for their practice. Benson Xiao, senior partner at ETR Law Firm, has strategically utilized his background in cross-border legal services and established trust with Hong Kong lawyers to encourage more GBA lawyers to join the firm. According to Xiao, the 30 GBA lawyers at ETR engage in a broad spectrum of contentious and non-contentious areas, encompassing “talents in various traditional and emerging practice areas such as civil and commercial litigation, marriage and family law, mergers, acquisitions, and reorganizations, capital market IPOs, bonds, funds, real estate transactions, etc.” Additionally, ETR has entered into strategic cooperation agreements with Hong Kong firms, including K. C. Ho & Fong, ONC Lawyers, and Mayer Brown, to systematically recruit their lawyers who have successfully passed the GBA practice examination to join ETR. TAKING SHAPE Data from the Ministry of Justice reveals that over the past year, GBA lawyers have handled nearly 500 Mainland legal matters. In July of the previous year, Junius Ho represented the first-ever case by a GBA lawyer, involving a dispute over inheritance concerning Mainland properties. Reflecting on his work in the Mainland over the past 15 months, Ho notes, “I have appeared before the court four times in the GBA, handling both ordinary civil and commercial disputes as well as intellectual property disputes. Additionally, I currently have around 15 ongoing cases.” Adhering to the red line requirements governing the practice of GBA lawyers, Ho emphasizes, “While we are not permitted to appear in court for criminal and administrative disputes, some clients seek advice from me in these matters. I analyze these cases and offer opinions from a civil litigation perspective. Simultaneously, I connect them with ETR partners authorized to handle such cases, ensuring we collectively provide clients with comprehensive and optimal legal services, exemplifying the spirit of teamwork and reaping its benefits.” At the close of 2022, Angela Ho, founder of Angela Ho & Associates, also joined ETR as a GBA lawyer. Despite being with the new platform for only a few months, Ho has yet to commence practice in the Mainland. However, she reports, “ETR and some Mainland colleagues have already consulted me regarding the handling of cross-border cases, and I have provided quotes for legal services. I am currently in discussions with an ETR colleague about a cross-border arbitration case.” Ho has personally experienced the advantages of being a GBA lawyer for her existing business and personal brand. She cites an example where the Hong Kong Stock Exchange (“HKEX”) sought her opinion on the enforceability of a memorandum of understanding governed by Chinese law. Ho highlighted to HKEX that the new Civil Code offers contractual interpretations for certain clauses not explicitly stipulated in contracts. She notes, “If I were not a GBA lawyer, HKEX might have required a formal legal opinion issued by a Mainland lawyer.” As an expert in corporate financing and restructuring, Ho eagerly anticipates contributing to more legal opinions as a GBA lawyer in the future. She adds, “For individual clients, we can also offer relevant legal services in real estate transactions, testamentary inheritance, and marriage and family law matters.” RIGHT PLATFORM The pilot scheme permitting GBA lawyers to practice in the Mainland mandates that Hong Kong and Macao