As seen in China Daily USA’s “Lawyer a Pioneer in Bridging Cultural Divides”
China Daily recently featured Special Counsel and Chair of Kaye Scholer’s Asia Pacific Practice Alice Young, and how she built a career out of the challenges that came with bridging a cultural divide.
About some of her most significant work in Asia, for major financial institutions as well as industrial, technology, insurance, fashion and consumer products companies (Young was one of the first American lawyers to go to China, while representing the cosmetics giant Revlon), Young recalls, "I feel so privileged to have been able to go in as a lawyer early on and then be part of all these changes over nearly four decades. People say to me now, ‘That was so prescient of you to have determined that China was where the money would be,’ but it was never about money for me. I went in because I cared deeply about the US-China relationship.”
"It's always been about helping people and businesses solve a problem, or figuring out how to work together. Being able to translate not just the legal terminology but also the cultural, political and socioeconomic considerations, that's what to me has been my strongest ability: to not assume that what's happening today is the entire story," Young adds.
Given Asia’s growing economic stature, and noting that one out of every five people in the world is Chinese, Young points out the “obvious business value” to going beyond the America-centric approach and understanding the Asian perspective. “It really behooves us to have a better understanding of what the differences are and how to make it work long-term,” Young opines. “That is what I do as a lawyer."
Young notes the great opportunities for mutual cross-border investment – but also the opportunities for missteps if companies are not careful. "I think it's important for Chinese coming to the US to look beyond the rhetoric. There are socioeconomic and political sensitivities in the US such as unemployment, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and CFIUS [Committee on Foreign Investment in the US], so Chinese companies should be careful in how they approach the American market.”
"Rather than just coming in and putting people in managerial positions who don't have a sensitivity to the issues here, it's always better to go in with a toehold, and good legal and business advisers, to understand the culture and business and expand slowly,” Young concludes.
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