Robert Lewis on the new Foreign Investment Law: a full employment bill for lawyers

Robert Lewis, an experienced China lawyer now Senior International Counsel at the Zhong Lun law firm, gave an interesting talk at Georgetown last week on the new Foreign Investment Law (FIL). Here’s the video.

His talk was subtitled “The Dawn of a New Golden Age for FDI in China.” Contrary to what you might think, however, he was not asserting that the FIL would, by virtue of the legal regime it established, usher in a flood of foreign investment that wouldn’t otherwise have come. The main message — at least as I understood the talk, and perhaps others came away with a different message — is that the FIL would usher in a golden age for lawyers, generating approximately $10 billion in legal fees over the next five years for the work of converting existing foreign-invested enterprises (joint ventures and wholly foreign-owned enterprises) into companies or partnerships, as required by the FIL. I gave a US dollar figure, but much of those fees will, of course, be earned by Chinese firms.

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