My first week at Dentons as a legal intern, has lived up to all of my expectations. When I first applied for this position, I knew that the firm had grown in size over the past few years through a series of mergers and played an important role in the international legal market. What I didn't know then, but was announced the day following my interview, was that the firm was growing (yet again) through a merger with 大成 (Dacheng) law offices. With that merger, Dentons became not only the world's largest law firm, but also uniquely poised to do business in China. Naturally, as I realized what this meant regarding the challenges and opportunities I would face this summer, I understood just how fortunate I was to have this opportunity.
The office and the office culture, are both amazing. The firm has provided everything I could need: access to my own cubicle, computer, phone extension, and--of course--a hot pot of coffee in the break room every morning. The greatest thing about the office, though, is being surrounded by dozens of brilliant, experienced Chinese and foreign attorneys. I have an access to so many amazing sources of knowledge and experience.
Things around the office run at a frantic pace, especially near the end of the day as everyone rushes to get things translated, drafted, or edited and sent out. My inbox has a habit of filling up rather quickly after 5:00 pm with things that need to get done before going home. While it may sound tiresome, I love the energy; it motivates me to do my best work, quickly (it also forces me to push myself even harder to meet deadlines).
During my first week I have had a steady flow of requests from office attorneys for drafting, translating, and editing. I have translated shareholder loan agreements, edited materials for use in business development pitches, and even participated in contract drafting.
My main project, however, has been coordinating research and writing a draft copy of a practice note about anti-corruption statutes in the US, the UK, and the PRC. The research for the note has been incredably interesting. In addition to learning about the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and the UK Bribery Act, I have been researching the emerging trends in the enforcement of Chinese Criminal Code Article 164 (recently amended to prohibit the bribery of foreign officials by Chinese nationals and Chinese corporations). I sincerely enjoy all of the work that I have been doing, this project is what makes me want to get to the office early--before the flow of documents starts to invade my inbox--and do some research.
One last "big picture" note:
I have realized this week how important law firms like Dentons are to the rule of law in a global economy. The work is largely about facilitating business and preventing legal problems. The anti-corruption work, for example, is about ensuring that multinational corporations do their part to stamp-out corruption while still allowing them the flexibility to operate in a culture (like China) where business relationships are often founded upon favors and gifts. All in all, I feel like the work I am doing really has a positive impact.