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Simon Tsi, Managing partner
As one of the founders of Chang Tsi & Partners, Simon Tsi not only facilitates the firm’s growth from six people to 200 staff in 15 years, but also witnesses the phenomenal changes in legal and social environment of China.
What do you see as the main points that differentiate Chang Tsi & Partners from your competitors?
Firstly, it’s about the comprehensiveness of legal service we provide. Chang Tsi & Partners focuses on practicing all areas of intellectual property law. Striving to be the best IP firm in China, providing quality and efficient legal services to clients are the firm’s values. Chang Tsi & Partners is well-known for its responsiveness, quality of work, extensive knowledge in working with international clients. The firm has benchmarked itself against industry leaders. We believe that client interests come first. Our job is to maximise a client’s legal rights in China. Chang Tsi & Partners provides one-stop, multi-leveled and comprehensive legal services to our clients.
Secondly, by working with our international clientele and partners, Chang Tsi & Partners has learnt from the best. We have formulated and been improving the work processes. As a solution provider, clients’ satisfaction is our ultimate goal. We are grateful to have assisted Fortune 500 companies including 3M, Johnson & Johnson, The Home Depot, Amazon, Illinois Tool Works, etc. Many leading Chinese companies have entrusted us, such as Baidu, Air China, China Railway Science Academy, China Life, China Development bank and many more. It is our principle to answer every work email in one working day and process all request as soon as we can.
Thirdly, Chang Tsi & Partners has a diverse and experienced team. We have over 200 attorneys, consultants and professionals providing services in English and Chinese. The legal team is supported by compartmentalised departments that are responsible for docketing, business insight, marketing, human resources, finance and admin. At the same time, upon client’s need, we also work cross-department and share all available resources. Chang Tsi & Partners are highly capable in handling difficult and complicated cases in all areas of intellectual property and dispute resolution. We are known for thinking strategically and outside of the box.
In all, we strive to provide comprehensive solutions answering client’s needs in the most responsive manner.
Which practices do you see growing in the next 12 months? What are the drivers behind that?
Relatively speaking, in the intellectual property field, I think the need to resolve corporate law related matters will increase. For example, many state-owned enterprises in China and some of large private Chinese companies have realised the value of strategic intellectual property protection. Their IP practice has turned from filing-centric to the management of IP assets in a holistic manner. Thus IP value-adding planning and commercialisation will become more than more important.
On the other hand, with the on-going trend of Internet+, big data and artificial intelligence, some simple and more procedural work might less likely be handled by people. The work division of legal services will be more and more specific, some of the high-end legal fields which require lawyers’ high professional qualities would develop fast, such as overseas compliance, cross-border M&A, cross-border litigation, intellectual property, antitrust, etc. These areas will require professionals with more experiences and capabilities.
What's the main change you've made in the firm that will benefit clients?
I think our clients have found our client manager system valuable. This system abandoned the functional divisions, which is more attorney focused. At Chang Tsi & Partners, two team leaders manages a team of attorneys and paralegal providing every type of IP service. Clients do not need to contact various attorneys for different cases, because they system requires team leaders to have a comprehensive understanding of a client’s portfolio. This system breaks many communications and collaborations barriers. I believe it is more client-centric and more efficient.
Is technology changing the way you interact with your clients, and the services you can provide them?
I would not say our services has changed because of the technology. But I think how we deliver our services have changed. Facsimiles used to be the most efficient and now is almost completed replaced by emails. With Cloud-based technology, both our clients and attorneys can communicate remotely from anywhere. Technology has made our service more accessible and allows us to be more responsive. Another example is the wide-adaptation of using instant messenger applications, such as WeChat. Many of clients have WeChat accounts and directly ask us to form WeChat groups to discuss cases, provide status update and ideas. Overall all of us are more connected because of new technology.
Can you give us a practical example of how you have helped a client to add value to their business?
Chang Tsi & Partners has been providing intellectual property legal service for Air China over a decade. Our firm assisted Air China’s in-house team built a comprehensive intellectual property management system. This system supports prosecution, enforcement, brand value-adding, commercialisation, work processes and principles and strategy formulation. According to brand agency’s evaluation, the brand value of Air China has increased 7 times from RMB 16bn to RMB 115bn. Among leading Chinese brands, Air China ranked 23rd. Our service enabled Air China to extend its service to more countries overseas.
Are clients looking for stability and strategic direction from their law firms - where do you see the firm in three year's time?
I think clients are looking for value. The best value would come from collaboration, understanding, trust and share of duties. I believe a sustainable, healthy relationship requires all parties share the same goals, same values and same principles. We are stable in a sense that we have always stay available to answer client’s enquires and expectations, and we believe in our values and service commitments. For example we offer annual overview of all practices to clients, if necessary. We are flexible because we adapt to client’s needs, budgets and we are not afraid of think further. These would be the Yin and Yang of our services. We have many clients worked with us many years that trust our strategic advice. We also work with clients who might only need a short-term tactical advice.
In three years’ time, I see our attorneys grow along with our clients, so does our firm. In Chinese there’s a saying, “it is easy to win, but it is difficult to always be a winner.” Fortunately we have an amazing group of clients and colleagues that benchmark against excellence. Therefore we see practice excellence as winning. Our client portfolio might encounter some changes because of Brexit, trade agreements among China and other countries, as well as other Macroeconomic changes. I stay confident that we can maintain competitive advantages. Chang Tsi & Partners persists in being the best intellectual property law firm in.