Mr. Lan discusses the wide range of services the Beijing office offers clients, the firm’s hallmark collegiality and his favorite antique among the office’s impressive collection.
What first led you to work for the firm?
What attracted me to Sidley was the firm’s commitment to building a world-class energy practice and that it had already onboarded leading industry practitioners in Houston, Hong Kong and Singapore. The collegiality of Sidley’s lawyers also impressed me deeply, making me want to be part of this team.
To what do you attribute the success of the Beijing office?
The close working relationships between the Beijing team and the rest of the firm is the key to our success. The relatively small size of our office and the fact that we serve global clients whose legal needs cross borders, necessitate that we work seamlessly with offices firmwide to deliver the highest quality client service. Clients come to Sidley knowing they have will have access to not just a team on the ground but also to the world-class talent of our lawyers around the globe.
What is particularly distinctive about our services in Beijing?
What distinguishes us from most international law firms in Beijing is that we have a much more diversified practice. Few international firms here have as good a track record in representing Chinese companies in their litigations in the U.S.; in defending the international trade proceedings against them by the authorities in other jurisdictions, and in the energy and other sectors in their outbound investments. We are also acknowledged for our work in advising multinational companies in the life sciences sector in their China-related global compliance work, as well as in their inbound investments into China.
How would you describe the culture and inner-workings of the Beijing office?
This is truly one of the most collegial offices in which I have worked. The courteous and low-profile style of Sidley is also a signature of the Beijing office. People here are cooperative, nice and family-oriented.
As I understand it, there are some wonderful antiques in the office from Henry Ding’s personal collection. Do you have a favorite?
Opposite the small conference room in the Beijing office is a wood board inscribed with the calligraphy of Emperor Kangxi of the Qing Dynasty, who is regarded as one of the most esteemed emperors in Chinese history. It is believed that only eight such boards were made. They were separately granted by the emperor to some of the people with great literary reputations, as well as to academies of classic learning at the time. Most of the boards have been destroyed or lost. It is possible that this board is the only one still in existence of the eight. Henry discovered it in storage in a rural area during one of his numerous treasure-hunting expeditions.
The image above is calligraphy by Emperor Kang Xi (1654-1722), Second Emperor of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). These four characters were written in praising a great scholar and philosopher, Zhu Xi (1130-1200), from the Song Dynasty, meaning his scholarly knowledge has reached the limit and his virtue is as high as sky.