When Johnson Tan rented a 300-square-metre room for Jones Day’s Beijing office two years ago, he worried the space might be too big.
Tan, partner at Jones Day’s Beijing office, had reason to worry, as the company faced numerous uncertainties when it first arrived in Beijing.
For example, the city was being ravaged by the deadly SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) outbreak. “We had three people in the beginning,” he recalled.
Now, Tan is more at ease, and excited when he thinks about the rapid speed at which Jones Day, the second-largest law firm in the United States, has expanded in Beijing.
“The fast growth of the business has allowed us grow to 30 people in Beijing within two years,” Tan told China Business Weekly.
“We moved into our current office, which covers 730 square metres. But it is still too small. We are thinking of renting the two rooms next door.”
Jones Day entered the Chinese mainland in 1999, when it opened an office in Shanghai.
The firm was late, compared with other overseas law firms, in entering China, but Tan does not believe the latecomer will lag behind for long.
“We have a strong brand. That has helped us promote our name in China,” Tan said.
He said the firm’s brand image helps guarantee it can deliver unified service standards throughout the world.
“Our service is just like the Big Mac at McDonald’s. No matter where you are in the world, you know what to expect,” he said.
Legal consultation is a kind of service business carried out by humans, he added.
“Human resources is the core competitiveness of a law firm. We always hire the most talented people,” he said.
Tan has four criteria when he recruits staff: Legal knowledge, social skills, spirit of serving people, and integrity.
Integrity, he stressed, is very important for a law firm.