37 ASIAN LEGAL BUSINESS CHINA • 亚洲法律杂志-中国版 WWW.LEGALBUSINESSONLINE.COM/CHINA GBA MARKET lawyers, who have successfully passed the relevant examination, join Mainland firms. Consequently, GBA lawyers face important considerations when selecting Mainland platforms and must assess the support these firms can offer once they join. For Ho, her foremost priority is selecting “a trustworthy firm, ideally with peers whom I am familiar with and engaged in similar practice areas, fostering better interaction. The reason for choosing ETR Law Firm is the presence of a lawyer friend whom I have known for over 20 years and collaborated with previously, fostering a strong professional relationship.” “In addition, size is also a critical factor. Due to its substantial size, ETR Law Firm dedicates personnel to assist in managing affairs for GBA lawyers, such as coordinating participation in GBA training courses and exchanges,” she adds. Junius Ho underscores that, when choosing a platform, a sincere and friendly attitude and a long-term development perspective are foundational. “While aspiring to join the largest and most prestigious firms is natural, approaching this with a ‘fresh start’ mindset and sincere dedication is crucial. Some seemingly smaller firms exhibit significant potential for future development. Seizing opportunities depends entirely on one’s initiative.” Furthermore, adopting a long-term perspective entails “avoiding shortsighted decisions and not immediately seeking corresponding benefits after making contributions. Instead, we should be open to sharing our experiences without fearing a loss of competitive edge – noble individuals consistently strive for self-improvement. Confidence in ourselves fosters the development of new skills.” Xiao, representing ETR Law Firm, currently boasting the largest number of GBA lawyers in South China, outlines the firm’s appeal to Hong Kong and Macao lawyers: a robust brand, substantial size, extensive cross-border business, abundant potential opportunities, and enduring, close interactions with lawyers from Hong Kong and Macao. Early clarity in strategy is also deemed crucial. Xiao notes, “Our firm promptly responded to the introduction of the pilot policy for GBA lawyers by unveiling an internal strategy to attract and serve GBA lawyers. This included establishing a dedicated Hong Kong and Macao lawyer service department and assigning personnel to proactively approach qualified lawyers, enticing them to join.” “Upon the addition of each new GBA lawyer, we celebrate with a welcome party, report the news on our WeChat official account, and accord priority in terms of brand promotion and inclusion in the cross-border business expert database. Additionally, recognizing that not all GBA lawyers focus solely on Guangzhou and Shenzhen, ETR’s other offices in the GBA region actively participate, with GBA lawyers already joining our Zhuhai and Dongguan offices. These lawyers frequently participate as guests in various ETR forums, sharing expertise and actively contributing to business development.” BRIGHTER FUTURE In early September, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress decided to extend the pilot scheme for GBA lawyers by another three years. Discussing the reasons for the extension, Minister of Justice He Rong stated that GBA lawyers “have had limited business opportunities and have not fully played their roles, and the advantages and intended effects of the pilot scheme have not been fully achieved... More time is needed to assess the effectiveness of the scheme.” Indeed, the exploration of how Hong Kong and Macao lawyers who are “starting afresh” can find their niche in the GBA market also requires further practical examination. “We need to invest time in developing business, but we also need to sow seeds,” says Junius Ho. “What does this mean? It means not only envisioning the future for one’s own business but also contributing to the overall industry’s development.” Over the past 15 months, he has actively participated in numerous sharing sessions organized by entities such as the Guangdong Provincial Department of Justice, the provincial lawyers association, the Nansha Development Area Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area Lawyers Working Group, and more. Ho of Angela Ho & Associates underscores the importance of participating in Mainland exchange activities. For instance, this year she visited colleagues in the Shenzhen Lawyers Association with the Law Society of Hong Kong, attended hearings of crossborder cases at the Shenzhen Qianhai Cooperation Zone People’s Court, and engaged in sharing sessions on the cross-border hearing tribunal at the Nansha Court and the Greater Bay Area Lawyers’ Law Centre. She also participated in exchange activities organized for the legal profession by the Council for the Promotion of Guangdong-Hong KongMacao Cooperation, all of which facilitated a faster and better integration into the GBA region. ETR Law Firm continues to welcome the extension of the pilot period for GBA lawyers, particularly with regards to the internationalization of law firms. Xiao believes that Hong Kong and Macao lawyers who have joined may even accelerate the progress of home-grown firms like ETR in overtaking stronger competitors. “GBA lawyers are already familiar with international business and enjoy an international reputation. Now that they have joined ETR Law Firm as lawyers, the experience and client resources they bring can be directly utilized by us, helping establish service capabilities in multiple jurisdictions. This is undeniably our most valuable talent pool,” says Xiao. Angela Ho 何文琪 Benson Xiao 肖硕彬 Junius Ho 何君尧