TSMP featured in BT article: “China calling – and Singapore lawyers heed with ni hao!”

TSMP was featured in a story about lawyers taking Chinese lessons in order to better service Mainland clients published by the Business Times on 28 November 2018. The full article may be found here (BT Paywall), containing this excerpt:

Two years ago, when candidate Donald Trump was declared the winner in a key state in the US Presidential election, his victory interestingly led a law firm 15,000 km away in Singapore to roll out Chinese lessons for its lawyers.

TSMP joint managing partner Stefanie Yuen Thio recalled that when she learnt of Mr Trump’s win, she decided that her firm “needed to be more China-ready”.

She explained: “A Trump in the White House would give the Chinese, who had been working hard to build their standing as a global power, the opportunity to steal the world stage and assume a position of leadership.”

Her husband and fellow managing partner Thio Shen Yi would also laugh at Mr Trump’s campaign slogan “Make America Great Again”, and quipped that Mr Trump was “Making China Great”.

To Mr Thio, Mr Trump’s extreme rhetoric and volatile presidential style made China look moderate and reasonable by contrast. Mr Trump’s anti-free trade stance would also mean that countries that believe in free trade would need to find new global partners.

TSMP wanted to be better prepared to service Chinese as well as Singaporean clients eager to do business with China, if China were to be on the ascendant.

It had the Chinese classes structured in workshop and role-play formats to give more hands-on practice to its 40 lawyers, who were divided into groups based on their language proficiency and their areas of practice. The lessons included how to break down contractual terms, describe business reorganisations and discuss the dispute resolution process in Mandarin.

Ms Yuen Thio said: “We also needed to know how to do ‘beauty parades’ and pitch our firm’s credentials in a way that would be informative and yet strike the right tone.”

For some partners such as Mr Thio, who are extremely busy, they were given one-on-one lessons so that they would get more targeted coaching.

Mr Thio was pleased that his Chinese proficiency had gone from “zero to terrible”. Ms Yuen Thio said that the lessons have lifted their confidence and exposed them to the Chinese history and culture, all of which form the PRC (People’s Republic of China) business mindset. “Singapore aims to be a financial and legal hub, and our ability to communicate and get deals done is a key part of the value proposition. More than the pure communication of information, we have a better grasp of non-verbal cues. The Chinese lessons have also made us more confident in working with PRCs and Mandarin-speaking clients.”


TSMP law corporation