China Esquire

Formerly a China Law and Business Blog–Now a Techie General Counsel's Musings

Nostalgia. Why else would I resurrect old content?

As you may have noticed, my China Esquire blog has gotten a major overhaul.  Why might you ask?  Because it got bloated over time–mostly by very annoying people highjacking (hacking) my blog.

So I’ve started fresh.  And as you’ll note, I haven’t been very active in blogging–particularly on China issues outside of a few book reviews since before 2010.  Yes, it’s been that long.  So I decided to not resurrect that old content and stick to anything 2011 and beyond…  so you don’t waste your time on old stuff.

The Lost Art of Client Relationships and Customer Service

Two events recently highlighted the decline for customer service and relationships in the services industry–and particularly in mine, which is legal services. First, I was having lunch with one of my outside counsel. He was picking my brain as to why I retain certain law firms, and the effect of billing rates on who I retain. That got my mind jogging on a number of topics regarding my selection of outside counsel–and how billing rates are only one aspect of who I choose. See more below.

Second, I was at a hospital trying to get lab work done. The lab sign said they closed at 4:45pm. My watch and the main hospital clock said 4:43, but the door was locked anyways. I knocked and two individuals opened it. I was promptly told the lab was closed because it was past 4:45. When I pointed out that it wasn’t yet 4:45 at the time of our discussion, they pointed to their own wall clock, which was set nearly 10 minutes ahead. I needed this work done, but the clerk calmly said he had a lot to do before closing and couldn’t help me. I was given his manager’s phone number if I wanted to complain about it. He wasn’t disrespectful, but he obviously didn’t care.

The second incident crystallized some thoughts I had during that lunch. There is a lost art to building relationships, offering great service, and seeing yourself as a “partner” to your business clients–and it’s being lost in the law firm world much more quickly than it should–something I lamented to my outside counsel.

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Why Good Service Matters

I recently got back from Orlando for the Association of Corporate Counsel’s Annual Meeting 2012, which is the largest gathering of in-house counsel in the world. I co-presented a session entitled “ A Technology Primer for the Non-tech Lawyer” with Harold Federow and James Nelson, which received positive feedback. While certainly tiring, the rest of the event was packed with information and opportunities to network… well, at least for most people…

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Book review: Chocolate Fortunes

Disclaimer: I received a free review copy of Chocolate Fortunes: The Battle for the Hearts, Minds, and Wallets of China’s Consumers from the publisher, AMACOM.

Again, a very overdue review. I read this one many, many months ago (probably a year now) and meant to write a review the entire time, so here it is. One caveat before I say anything: Lawrence Allen was previously at Hershey and relates some of his story here with a slight bias toward what Hershey was (and wasn’t) doing right in China. I don’t think it’s overly biased in a bad way personally, but I do think some may take objection with that fact.

I really enjoyed this book and think it very worthwhile for any amateur businessperson (i.e. undergraduate business majors or even a high school student interested in business, or anyone without any business training who wants to know more about what it takes to run a logistics heavy and product focused business). Why? Because Mr. Allen doesn’t talk too much about business theories, but uses the 5 chocolate manufacturers as actual example of what worked and didn’t work in the market. Each section devoted to a manufacturer–Ferrero, Cadbury, Nestle, Mars, and Hershey–has quite a bit of details:

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Asking All the Right Questions

Dan Harris at CLB did a post that I really liked about term sheets entitled “China OEM Manufacturing Agreements. What Should Go In Your Term Sheet?”  Not that I don’t like Dan’s other work, but this is one worth reviewing because you can see a mixture of experience (expertise), business judgment, curiosity, and attention to detail that is useful not just for China legal work, but frankly any legal work.

His tips on questions to ask for such a term sheet were good enough for me to just rip verbatim.

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Book review: Managing the China Challenge

Disclaimer: I received a free review copy of Managing the China Challenge: How to Achieve Corporate Success in the People’s Republic from the publisher.

Apologies for such a late review on this book, but better late than never.  I am going to start and recommend it as being useful for China business newbies.  Ken Lieberthal does a fantastic job covering the basics of why China is the way it is, and how it is a tough environment to operate a multinational corporation (MNC).   For those who do not understand any of the subtleties of the Community Party that rules China, this book will be eye-opening to you.  (and also help to explain why you’ve been hearing so much lately of folks like Bo Xilai)

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Looking for Sanity in SaaS Contracts – an Epilogue

I had just finished up my series entitled Looking for Sanity for Saas Contracts (parts 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5) when I received an issue of PLC Intellectual Property & Technology from Practical Law Company in the mail. Guess what’s on page 34? An detailed checklist for SaaS agreements that shows what the Client/Customer position should be and what the Vendor/Provider position should be. It’s a 5 page checklist.

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Looking for Sanity in SaaS Contracts (Part 3 of 5)

A few more thoughts:

Understand the Industry Standards

Know the industry standards. I already talked about limitation of liability and indemnity the last time around, but this applies to a lot of other terms too. The SaaS/cloud industry is not that difficult to understand. Want some easy advice? Log onto salesforce.com and read their master services agreement. That will give you an idea of what the rest of the industry is like.

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A bit about me

Thomas Chow is a seasoned executive with 20 years of experience in technology, legal services, and startup companies. A former China law and business blogger, he is currently General Counsel & Secretary at PubMatic, a digital advertising platform providing automation technology for publishers and programmatic tools for media buyers.  He still enjoys a good chat about all things Chinese.

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