Violating the First Commandment of Blogging: Thou Shalt Not Insult (Ex)Employer

This blog is a small little space I keep, together with some friends, on the web. Its (hopefully) read by our family and friends and maybe an occasional passerby on Chinalyst or a similar website. Despite having one of the best blog names in the China blogsphere (in my "humble" opinion, the readership still falls a bit short). Anyways, as bloggers, there are a few rules to follow, but the number 1 rule, in big bold print and underlined, especially when your day job is in a profession like the law, with a responsibility to your clients, is to avoid airing your dirty laundry in public.

However, it was with a bit of surprise that I found out that everyone's favorite launderer is back and better (or worse, depending on your feelings) than ever. That's right, the China Lawyer Blog is once again attacking Zhong Lun, still sharing firm emails, and going so far as to print a partner's US real estate holdings, he's even gone so far as to create a dummy blog for Zhong Lun. I'm still not 100% sure this isn't 1 big joke, though the dummy site and some news stories in US legal journals make that seem unlikely.

That's all well and good, it was fun at first, but now its getting old, and, in some of the posts, pretty juvenile. Yet, when he calls me out, that's when its on and, trust son, I hold things down like Money May. I'm really left to wonder what Mr. Brauer's own resume looks like (for the record, I'm a US-licensed lawyer) and what kind of experience he has in the US. He states that I:
had obviously difficulty reconciling his feelings that what what he was reading
was morally right, but that nothing should be done about it.
Forgiving the grammar, anyone who read the original post from which he pulls a "quote" from, would have come away with the impression that no matter if what Mr. Brauer is referring to is true or not, it still doesn't make sense to blog about it. Not only will it create distrust with any future employers (which is probably why he's now working for himself), it also is completely ineffective (which is why he's yet to collect his money).

I hope if/when he sues Zhong Lun in the US he does a better job quoting case precedent than he does quoting from my blog, as any judge (or more likely judicial clerk) who views what he is actually citing would see that it is completely against him. I've always been taught never to burn bridges and I just can't see why when leaving a firm, anyone would do something like that, it is rife with immaturity. Unless you are writing a blog for your employer or your company, there is no reason to use your blog to go into details about your job and especially not to badmouth your job or company, doing so is just asking for trouble (both ethically and from your employer). I don't consider what Mr. Brauer did, or is doing, to be morally right, I don't think a blog is the proper forum for what he is doing. There's a difference between going to a bar and shooting the shit with some friends, talking about how much you hate your job and doing so on the web.

One small example of Mr. Brauer's complaints about Zhonglun was about fake versions of computer software. I think software piracy is a common problem in China and that Chinese companies (including law firms) use pirated software, but I'd like to see all the legit licenses for software at the China offices of a Magic Circle or big NY law firm in China. For that matter, I'm sure Mr. Brauer would never go out and purchase pirated DVDs, since he is so concerned with intellectual property.

As for the second part of his quote, I never said that nothing should be done. First and foremost, if he really wants to get his money, he should simply sue in Chinese court. When securing a work visa in China, a signed copy of the employment contract must be submitted to the government. The employee and employer will also have copies of that contract. China is far from a "country without laws", as anyone practicing here professionally will tell you. Especially when it comes to contract matters, if you have a contract to show the court and have other proof of wrongdoing, you have a good shot at winning, even if you are a foreigner. Beyond that, I think his blog failed to achieve his goal and basically just resulted in his public embarrassment. Mr. Brauer graduated from a reputable US law school and I'm assuming he's passed the bar in the United States, as such I'd imagine he has a respect for the law that such training gives you. When I made my statements about what he was (and still is) doing, I just couldn't believe anyone with a legal background would toss the law to the side (as well as logic) and turn to a blog to "fix" the problem. And now I've just given him more time than he deserves...

PS: I've worked in different capacities for 2 Chinese law firms and have yet to see anything illegal or out of the ordinary take place in either. Having spent time at one of China's top firms, I can say there is very little difference between them and any Western firm in China, the lawyers are equally professional and have tons of experience, both abroad (in the US and UK) and in China, having attending top universities and worked at major firms. The only real difference is that they typically charge half the price (still pretty pricey, as Mr. Brauer is correct to put it at around US$425) than Western firms in China.

PPS: Beer is a favorite topic around here and when Mr. Brauer posted on it, his lack of knowledge about China came shining through. Not only that, but it appears he pretty much hates the country, too. Sure, in the sticks foreign brands probably can't compete and in most cases won't even try, but in the cities where the choice is between a RMB3 Yanjing, an RMB5 Bud, and an RMB8 Heineken, the consumer often will go for the foreign brand. Further, foreign brand penetration in restaurants is extremely high, where that 1 RMB beer is sold for anywhere between RMB10-50.

PPPS: Even by Mr. Brauer's standards and assuming that everything he says is true, that he was wronged by Zhong Lun, that he is mentally stable, and that he quit (instead of being fired), is there any reason at all to call out a young lawyer like this(including posting her picture) who did nothing to hurt him. That is just low.

As Jigga said, "we bring a knife to a fist fight, kill your drama." I'm a Chicago boy and that's the Chicago way.


Beefeater said...

Well, he's certainly acted discreditably. Readers will draw their own conclusions.

That said it's not a given that all of his conclusions are wrong. It is not at all unusual for lawyers to cut the odd corner here and there even at MC (whisper it) or the larger US firms, more so when the client is one of the breed of tough, independent and buccaneering businesspeople that emerging markets are teeming with.

That local firms in those emerging markets are more likely still to cut corners is highly probable (I recall a friend from local counsel echoing a Hong Kong commentator when she told me over a beer that a colleague "doesn't know how to go round corners", which I thought was impressive english as well as rather a good joke). Due process is certainly a bit more flexible - one credible story doing the rounds when I was in Beijing was that a prc firm issued a legal opinion that was to the lawyers' knowledge not true and accurate at the time of issue, though it became so later.

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Anonymous said...

Right on, brother! You know what you be talkin' 'bout. Nobody should ever be bashin' on their employers (ex or otherwise) on their blogs or in public. Who knows what be goin' on at the bar? You could be as drunk as a skunk and talk about the boss without knowin' he's there! But man, gettin' legal services be expensive. I hope I never need them anytime soon, or I'm sure I'll have to sell my house just to get legal representation! Anyway, keep up the logic and the law!