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The Last Week

This next week will be my last week of my internship in Beijing. In 7 days I will fly to Detroit to spend a week with family before returning to Williama and Mary to start my second year of law school.

This past week, I finished my property law research project. I also researched and wrote a report on China's current property system in its rural areas. This research revealed the need not just for new legislation that can better define the process for land registration and reform the process for land takings, but also the need for greater implementation at the local level. But if the Chinese National Government can successfuly safeguard property rights in rural areas, then investment and incomes would increase--eventually transforming farmers into consumers. Such a result would strengthen China and the global economy. Thus, the stakes are pretty high. In addition to researching land law, I have been searching for experts in this field with whom Zhicheng Public Interest Group can seek guidance and feedback as they draft proposal legislation. My former property professor, Professor Butler, has provided me with a few potential contacts, for which I am incredibly grateful.

In addition to completing this project, I have attended a few more meetings on the center's upcoming pro bono project. I am not able to discuss these plans on this blog. But during these meetings, the Director, a few lawyers and I generally discuss the specific challenges the center will face; I then explain how other countries have faced similar challenges, and which measures I believe have been most effective; then the Director and the other lawyers adapt these measures to the Chinese system. These meetings are very collaborative and we generally find solutions surprisingly quickly. What surprises me most about these meetings is how little experience and rank matter in the discussion. Everyone is encouraged to talk, interrupting another person midsentence is completely acceptable, and the Director is just as interested in the intern's opinion as the lawyer's with ten years experience. Its possible that this atmosphere exists because no one really has any experience in pro bono, or that the solutions needed are more of a creative rather than technical nature. Whatever the reason, I truly have enjoyed being a part of this collaborative process.

As this is my last weekend in Beijing, my friends and I did our final shopping for souvenirs. We went to the Pearl Market, where you can get essentially anything. In addition to acquiring souvenirs, it was a good opportunity to further hone my chinese and bargaining skills. The key to successful Pearl Market negotiations: know the object's worth (or at least its worth to you), know your highest price and stick to it, give a much lower but not offensively low price, don't be afraid to play on the other party's emotions (I am only a student, can you please help me), and when the other party will not compromise, walk away from the table but be willing to return the moment they budge. Some of these lessons are ones I learned during Legal Skills negotiation practices.

Next week is my last week, and it will mostly involve a lot of lunches and dinners and meetings saying goodbye to my colleagues. I have been so fortunate and learned so much from this internship. I will be sad to leave.

My next post will be my last.