Chinese lawyer seeks to provide legal services for industries affected by COVID-19

A legal aid volunteer helps migrant workers on a construction site download a smart phone app in Yanweigang town, Guanyun county, Lianyungang city, Jiangsu province on January 3. Specially designed for migrant workers, the app could help them seek help in case their wages are not paid in full and on time. (Photo by Wu Chenguang/People’s Daily Online)

By Wang Haonan, People’s Daily

How could lawyers in China better play their roles in national COVID-19 response and what are their views and suggestions on carrying out the Peaceful China initiative under the new circumstance? Gao Zicheng, a deputy to the 13th National People’s Congress (NPC) and president of Beijing Lawyers Association, has been reflecting on this question recently.

To find the answer, Gao spent 13 days visiting lawyer associations of 11 districts in Beijing, and received more than 1,000 questionnaires from the lawyers covering such topics as suggestions on the development of the industry and issues concerning people’s livelihood they encountered in their practice.

“We found that the COVID-19 epidemic had threatened the survival of a large number of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises. Deep down it’s much more than economic issues, but reveals more legal issues,” he remarked. With a professional career of over 30 years, Gao always proceeds from the perspective of law when looking into something.

“For example, legal service must be in place when loan defaults and debt defaults caused by the epidemic occur, because they may bring lawsuit risks,” said Gao, adding that if these problems are not handled properly, instabilities may ensue.

He also said that the legal service industry should work proactively and play a due role, in a bid to resolve the conflicts.

Gao has always been concerned over the long-term development of his industry.

“Every street, town and village in Beijing should have access to public legal services offered by relevant lawyers. It is the responsibilities of the lawyers, and the due social responsibilities of the industry at large,” he noted.

However, law firms are also market entities responsible for their own profits and losses. As the public legal services cannot bring in regular business incomes, the cost of these services are often neglected, he added.

For this reason, he suggested introducing tax policies suitable for the industry, in a bid to ensure sustainability of its development.

Gao also expressed that he would raise relevant motions at the third annual session of the 13th National People’s Congress.

The legal service industry is characterized by easy gathering of information and multiple channels. He found it important to make the best use of his advantages in daily practice and voice the public concern, and put forward reasonable suggestions from a professional perspective.

In about 3 months, Gao made over 20 suggestions, covering topics such as preventing people from slipping back into poverty because of the epidemic and making better use of domestic demand to boost economy.

“A NPC deputy must live up to the expectations of the people. I still have a large amount of work to do, and I must delve deeper and focus more on the details,” Gao said.

Huang Keyi, a member of a charity alliance of women lawyers in Huai’an city, east China’s Jiangsu province, popularizes legal knowledge in a livestream session on April 8. The lawyers also give detailed and professional explanation on legal issues of viewers’ concern. (Photo by Wang Hao/ People’s Daily Online)

A lawyer explains cases to local residents to help them better understand law in Tianhexingcheng community on Qilidian street, Zhenjiang city, Jiangsu province on April 8. (Photo by Shi Yucheng/People’s Daily Online)

The justice bureau of Yunlong district, Xuzhou city, Jiangsu province, invites a lawyer to give online lecture on legal issues regarding the epidemic in a livestream session on February 19. (Photo by Zheng Zhou/People’s Daily Online)