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29 Indiana J. Global Legal Studies 85 (2022)


Based on the analysis of the online profiles of 205 BRI Talent Bank lawyers as accredited by China's national bar association, this article generates important empirical knowledge about the approaches and processes that a nation-state may use in directing the internationalization of legal professionals. In addition to designing the general roadmap and offering broad incentives, the state has demonstrated a much more handson approach. By collecting the so-called "state-adjacent" lawyers and commissioning them to take some concrete first steps stipulated in the roadmap, the Chinese state effectively envisions them as role models for other lawyers to follow to ensure that its policy goals regarding the BRI are achieved in the Chinese legal profession. Such vision, however, is not very well-realized which is particularly evidenced by the zero-accession rate of Talent Bank law firms into the state-led BRI Lawyers Association initiative. These findings reaffirm that Chinese lawyers are calculative and pragmatic entrepreneurs who know how to strike the balance between winning legitimacy from the state and pursuing their own internationalization trajectories based on their own needs and competence. Perhaps contrary to the expectations of the state, such an image does not seem to change much even regarding a group of lawyers that have close ties with and/or hold official approvals from the state.

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