How to Become a Lawyer in China?

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Becoming a lawyer in China is a pursuit that requires dedication, education, and passing the rigorous national judicial examination. In recent years, the legal profession has gained prominence through various TV shows and movies, sparking interest in aspiring lawyers. This guide will provide a step-by-step overview of the process to become a lawyer in China, including the educational requirements, the national judicial examination, and the path to obtaining a lawyer’s practicing certificate.

1. Educational Requirements

To embark on a legal career in China, one must first meet the educational requirements. Pursuing a law degree is essential, and the specific requirements depend on the date of university enrollment.

  • Pre-2018 Enrollment: If you enrolled in university before April 28, 2018, a bachelor’s degree or higher in any field is sufficient to meet the educational requirements for the legal profession.
  • Post-2018 Enrollment: If you enrolled in university after April 28, 2018, a full-time undergraduate degree in law is required to meet the educational requirements. However, there are alternative paths available, such as pursuing a master’s degree in law or gaining three years of legal work experience.

It’s important to note that the legal profession values continuous education and higher qualifications can enhance career prospects.

2. The National Judicial Examination

The national judicial examination, commonly known as the “gaokao for lawyers,” is a crucial step towards becoming a lawyer in China. This examination evaluates candidates on their legal knowledge and professional competence. The examination is divided into two parts: objective questions and subjective questions.

Objective Questions

The objective questions are typically held in September each year. The examination consists of two papers, each containing 100 multiple-choice questions. The papers cover various legal subjects and carry a total score of 300. The subjects tested include:

  • Chinese socialist legal theories
  • Jurisprudence
  • Constitution
  • Chinese legal history
  • International law
  • Judicial systems and legal professional ethics
  • Criminal law and criminal procedure law
  • Administrative law and administrative litigation law

Subjective Questions

The subjective questions are usually held in October following the objective examination. Candidates who pass the objective examination are eligible to participate in the subjective examination. The subjective examination includes case analysis, legal document drafting, and essay questions. The subjective examination is worth a maximum of 180 points and evaluates candidates’ understanding of:

  • Chinese socialist legal theories
  • Jurisprudence
  • Constitution
  • Criminal law and criminal procedure law
  • Civil law, intellectual property law, and commercial law
  • Civil litigation law (including arbitration systems)
  • Administrative law and administrative litigation law
  • Judicial systems and legal professional ethics

The national judicial examination is comprehensive and covers approximately 290 legal statutes, regulations, and judicial interpretations, with a substantial amount of study material amounting to millions of words.

3. Practical Internship

After successfully passing the national judicial examination, aspiring lawyers must complete a one-year internship at a law firm. The internship aims to provide practical legal experience and assess the intern’s professional competence. To commence the internship, the following documents are required:

  • Application for Lawyer Internship: This form should be completed and stamped by the law firm where the internship will take place.
  • Lawyer Internship Agreement: The agreement outlines the terms and conditions of the internship and should also be stamped by the law firm.
  • Employment Contract: A one-year contract with the law firm is necessary for the internship.
  • Legal Professional Qualification Certificate: A copy of the certificate obtained after passing the national judicial examination.
  • Undergraduate Degree Certificate: A copy of the undergraduate degree certificate in law (or relevant field). If enrolled in full-time university studies, a copy of the registration certificate is also required.
  • Identity Card Copy: A copy of the applicant’s identity card. Non-local residents should provide a residence permit or temporary residence permit.
  • Proof of Resignation: A copy of the resignation certificate from the applicant’s previous employer (if applicable).
  • Personnel File Storage Proof and Payment Receipt: Copies of the documents demonstrating the storage of personnel files and the associated fees.
  • Certificate of No Criminal Record: An original certificate proving the applicant has no criminal record.
  • Social Security Proof: A social security certificate issued by the Social Security Management Center of the law firm.
  • Two Passport-sized Photos: Recent, color, and passport-sized photos.

The internship period allows aspiring lawyers to gain practical experience, learn from experienced lawyers, and develop essential legal skills.

4. Applying for the Lawyer’s Practicing Certificate

Upon completion of the one-year internship, aspiring lawyers can apply for a lawyer’s practicing certificate. The certificate is a crucial document that grants the authority to practice law. To apply for the certificate, the following documents are required:

  • Application for Lawyer’s Practicing Certificate: This form should be completed and submitted.
  • Internship Appraisal Certificate: A certificate issued by the law firm where the internship was completed, confirming that the intern has successfully completed the internship.
  • Social Security Payment Receipt: A receipt confirming the payment of social security fees during the internship period.
  • Certificate of Completion of Centralized Training for Lawyer Interns: A certificate issued upon completion of the centralized training program conducted by the local judicial bureau. This training typically lasts for about a month and includes theoretical and practical aspects of legal practice.
  • Copies of Case Files: At least three case files, which demonstrate the intern’s practical experience and competence.
  • Additional Requirements: Additional requirements may vary depending on the local regulations and the specific law firm.

Once all the necessary documents are submitted, the local Lawyers’ Association will review the application and issue the lawyer’s practicing certificate if all requirements are met.

Becoming a lawyer in China requires dedication, education, and successfully passing the national judicial examination. The process involves meeting the educational requirements, passing the examination, completing a one-year internship, and obtaining the lawyer’s practicing certificate. Continuous professional development and higher qualifications can further enhance career opportunities in the legal field. Understanding the steps and requirements involved will help aspiring lawyers navigate the path towards a successful legal career in China.

Remember, the legal profession is constantly evolving, and staying up-to-date with legal developments and pursuing further specialization will contribute to a rewarding and fulfilling career as a lawyer in China.



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