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INSIDE THE LEGAL MIND OF NICHOLAS KIHANGIRE

文章来源:北京大学国际法学院

作者:Jacob Afwata

 

In this series, we interview Nicholas Kihangire, a final year LL.M. student from Uganda, East Africa. He is currently researching and writing his thesis on “The conflict between the governing law of the arbitration agreement/contract and the law of the arbitral seat”and also finds time to intern with YangTze Law (YTL), the first and only exclusively Chinese-owned UK law firm with offices in Shenzhen and Hong Kong.

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1. Who is Nicholas Kihangire? Why did you choose to study law? Why did you choose to study it at STL?

I am a 30-year-old Ugandan licensed lawyer, husband to Jemimah Owomugasho, who is currently a Masters Programme Student at Peking University PHBS Business School, and a father to a one Kyle Ahangire Mugambe.

 

Before coming to China, I worked as a Legal Associate with Uganda’s biggest Law Firm Kampala Associated Advocates (DENTONS Uganda). I also worked as a Junior Lecturer at Uganda Christian University where I assisted in teaching Company law and Criminal law.

 

I got to know about STL through Professor Elaine Campbell who was the Director of Graduate and International Programs at the time. She was very instrumental during the entire application process.

 

My decision to join STL was informed primarily by three factors. First, China has become Africa’s largest trading partner since 2009. With the Belt and Road Initiative, China has become an indispensable economic partner. As a practising lawyer, and due to the tremendous increase of Chinese Foreign Direct investment in Uganda, I have had the opportunity to represent some of the biggest Chinese State-Owned Enterprises currently operating in Uganda. It became increasingly clear that a lawyer with a thorough understanding of both cultures stands to offer better legal services. STL offered me the platform from which I could achieve this understanding.

 

Secondly, Peking University is a top ranking University with a fantastic reputation. The uniqueness of STL’s LL.M. program distinguishes it from other Universities. It offers a variety of classes and one is at liberty to select the classes that fit their career aspirations.

 

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, my wife and I were very lucky to get joint admission and scholarships from the Chinese Scholarship Council, STL and PHBS. This meant that I could study with her in the same university without separation anxiety. This still feels like a dream. Not many couples are that lucky. 

 

2. What were your first days at Shenzhen and STL like? Did you experience some culture shock?

I arrived in the summer and the weather was very hot and humid. For the first time in my life, I struggled to sleep under the air conditioning. In Uganda, people do not sleep with air conditioning on. It is not necessary because temperatures at night range from 18 to 24 degrees. This was a rough start but I got used to it with time. I found people extremely nice and friendly. I had a wonderful student buddy, Celia. She did everything humanly possible to ensure I am comfortable. My biggest cultural shock perhaps could be the fact that people here, with the exception of couples, are generally less handsy in their greetings. Where I am from, we greet in many ways: handshakes, hugs, fist bumps, a pat on the back, and sometimes a kiss on the cheek. On several occasions, I would bump into a Chinese friend and would not know what to do.  

 

3. STL’s programme has been described as unique and innovative, and while it is challenging, students are bound to find it rewarding. Do you share these assessments? And if so, did you have any favourite courses? Were your course preferences, if any, informed by your liking of the teaching style of particular professors? 

Oh Yes, I do. STL’s programme is very unique and innovative. All the courses I took were equally challenging and enriching. My favourite courses can be divided into two categories, theoretical and practical. For the theoretical classes, International Commercial Arbitration by Professor Won Kidane and Treaty Arbitration by Professor Mark Feldman were my favourites. I was blown away by the depth of knowledge exhibited by these Professors. For the practical classes, Cross-Cultural Negotiations by Professor Ray Campbell and International Business Negotiations by Professor Jay Gary Finkelstein exceeded my expectations. We often conducted simulations and sometimes real negotiations with students from other Universities. These classes enhanced my negotiation abilities. 

 

4. Currently, apart from your thesis work, you are interning at YTL, the first and only exclusively Chinese-owned UK law firm with offices in Shenzhen and Hong Kong offering legal services to Chinese enterprises in various areas of law. In your quest for an internship, what kind of leverage, if any, do you think your study at STL gave you? As an intern at YTL, what aspects of your work do you find gratifying and what are the challenges? 

At YTL, I work under the Department of  African Affairs and part of my job is to provide legal services to Chinese investors entering the African markets, especially East Africa. Courses such as International Business Transactions, International Business Negotiations, International Commercial Arbitration and Treaty Arbitration have equipped me with the necessary legal ammunition to begin a career in cross-border practice. International Arbitration transcends legal jurisdictions. My legal career can progress without needing to get additional certifications for these jurisdictions. Perhaps the most important benefit of studying at STL is the platform it gives me for understanding the Chinese Culture. It is this understanding of Chinese culture that places me in a unique position to adequately advise Chinese Investors entering the African markets. Being the only Ugandan licensed Lawyer practising in China, it gives me a distinct opportunity to play an important role in the Sino-African relations by building a cultural bridge between Chinese investors and African companies. The major challenge is still the language. Whereas I am actively taking classes, my Chinese language proficiency is still at HSK Level 2. Learning a new language takes a while so I have to continuously make effort to learn and improve.

 

5. You have been invited to attend and speak at the Legal Risk Prevention Training for Trade and Investment along "Belt & Road" Countries and Exchange Meeting Between International Business Communities this summer. Can you explain how you think the "Belt & Road" Initiative will shape the relationship between China and Africa? How do international legal talents factor in this relationship?

At YTL, we practice multi-jurisdictional laws especially along the “Belt & Road” Initiative. As a result, I have been privileged to speak at various Legal Risk Prevention Forums. The Belt & Road Initiative is the biggest project of the 21st Century. In the last 3 years, China has invested about USD 170 billion in Africa. At the recently concluded Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, China pledged to invest an additional USD 60 Billion in projects along the Belt and Road initiative covering human resource development, telecommunications, construction of roads, bridges and seaports. We are bound to see a steady increase in investments in Africa. Some of these projects take longer to  and, in some cases, they fail due to differences in the cultural work framework. As Transnational lawyers, we are required to be culturally competent and act as a bridge between the Chinese investors and other parties along the Belt and Road. This requires us to have a thorough understanding of the variant legal frameworks, be able to approach regulatory authorities on behalf of investors, carry out comprehensive due diligence, and advise on the best mode to carry out business and dispute resolution mechanisms long before a dispute arises.

 

We are likely to see an increase in African exports to China. By the end of 2017, statistics by China Customs indicated that China’s imports from Africa had reached USD 75.26 Billion. With better connectivity along the Belt and Road, coupled with China’s recent pledge to open more markets to African products, there is going to be a substantial increase in imports from Africa to China.

 

6. What is your greatest achievement in life so far? If your twenty-year-old self were to see you now, what would he think? 

I am relatively a young man, just turned 30. Besides my legal education and having an opportunity to work for the biggest law Firm in Uganda, of all the things I have done so far, finding the love of my life and being a father brings me the greatest joy. I don’t know if there is anything greater. 

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7. You recently became a father, how has that changed your view of life, and can we hope that one day your son will join STL’s outstanding community. We know he’ll make the grades because he is a chip off the young-old block.

Being a father takes away all the self-centeredness. You start living and working for your wife and children. It has been challenging balancing babysitting and class commitments but the joy of holding your child makes you forget about all the challenges. Seeing your baby grow day by day and learning to smile back is the purest of joys. Our son is, by and large, a Peking University child. He was born here - Building 5 is his first home. I hope 20 years from today he considers joining this wonderful institution. It would be a story written in the stars.

 

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention a few people who have been extremely helpful in my time here. Professors Ray and Elaine Campbell, they have been our godparents in China and they opened their home to us. Then there is John Aycock and Zoe Dai who have always been there when needed. My wife and I deeply appreciate what they have done for us.

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8. Finally, what would be your advice to the recently admitted LL.M. international students at STL? And for the students who are going to apply to STL?

STL offers many classes. As a result, there is a temptation to enroll for as many classes as possible. Although this enriches a person’s general knowledge, I think if one is to develop an expertise, they need select courses that are in sync with their career aspirations. Also, if possible, I would advist the new students to try and meet their credits requirements by the end of their first year and use the second year for finding a job.

 

To those applying, the future is in the East (China) not the USA or Europe and STL offers a platform to become part of the new narrative. STL is as competitive as any other top University in the world. Students here will be at the right place at the right time. I encourage them to take advantage of the many scholarship opportunities available. 


中文译文:


在本系列节目中,我们采访了东非乌干达的最后一年LL.M.学生Nicholas Kihangire。他目前正在研究、撰写关于“仲裁协议/合同管理法与仲裁所在地法之间的冲突”的论文,并抽出时间到英国长江国际律师事务所(YTL)实习,英国长江国际律师事务所是英国第一家也是唯一一家中国人全资律师事务所,在香港和深圳设有办事处。

 

1. Nicholas Kihangire是谁?你为什么选择学习法律?你为什么选择在STL学习呢?

我是一名30岁的乌干达执业律师,是Jemimah Owomugasho的丈夫,Jemimah Owomugasho现在是北京大学PHBS商学院的硕士研究生,也是Kyle Ahangire Mugambe的父亲。

 

在来中国之前,我在乌干达最大的律师事务所坎帕拉联合律师事务所(乌干达律师事务所)担任法律助理。我曾在乌干达基督教大学担任初级讲师,曾协助教授公司法和刑法。

 

我是通过伊莱恩·坎贝尔教授了解STL的,当时他是研究生和国际项目主任。她在整个申请过程中都很有帮助。

 

我决定加入STL主要是由三个因素来决定的。首先,自2009以来,中国已成为非洲最大的贸易伙伴。在“一带一路”倡议下,中国已成为不可或缺的经济伙伴。作为一名执业律师,由于中国对乌干达的直接投资大幅增加,我有机会服务目前在乌干达经营的一些最大的中国国有企业。越来越清楚的是,一个对两种文化都有深入了解的律师可以提供更好的法律服务。STL为我提供了一个平台,我可以从中获得这种理解。

 

第二,北京大学是一所享有极高声誉的一流大学。STL的LL.M课程的独特性使其区别于其他大学。它提供各种各样的课程,一个人可以自由地选择适合他们职业愿望的课程。

 

最后,也许最重要的是,我和我妻子非常幸运地获得了中国奖学金委员会、STL和PHBS的联合录取和奖学金。这意味着我可以和她一起在同一所大学学习,没有分离焦虑。这仍然像一个梦。没有多少夫妇是幸运的。

 

2. 你在深圳和STL的第一天是什么样的?你经历过文化冲击吗?

我是夏天来到的,天气又热又潮湿。这是我一生中第一次在空调下挣扎着睡觉。在乌干达,人们不睡空调。这是不必要的,因为夜间的温度在18到24度之间。这是一个艰难的开端,但我已经习惯了。我发现人们非常友好。我有一个很棒的学生朋友,西莉亚。她尽一切可能确保我感到舒适。我最大的文化震撼也许是这里的人,除了夫妇,一般来说在问候时不太随便。我来自的地方,我们用很多方式打招呼:握手、拥抱、拳头颠簸、拍拍背,有时亲吻脸颊。有几次,我会撞到一个中国朋友,不知道该怎么办。

 

3. STL的课程被描述为独特和创新的,尽管它具有挑战性,学生们一定会发现它的回报。你同意这些评估吗?如果有的话,你有最喜欢的课程吗?你的课程偏好,如果有的话,是由你对特定教授的教学风格的喜好所决定的吗?

哦,是的,我喜欢。STL的项目非常独特和创新。我上的所有课程都同样富有挑战性和丰富多彩。我最喜欢的课程可以分为两类,理论和实践。在理论课上,我最喜欢Won Kidane教授进行的国际商事仲裁和Mark Feldman教授进行的条约仲裁。我被这些教授所展示的渊博知识所折服。在实践课上,Ray Campbell教授的跨文化谈判和Jay Gary Finkelstein教授的国际商务谈判超出了我的预期。我们经常与其他大学的学生进行模拟,有时是真正的谈判。这些课程提高了我的谈判能力。

 

4. 目前,除了你的论文工作,你还在YTL实习。YTL是英国第一家也是唯一一家由中国人所有的律师事务所,在深圳和香港设有办事处,为中国企业提供不同领域的法律服务。在你寻找实习机会的过程中,你认为你在STL的学习给了你什么样的优势?作为YTL的实习生,你觉得你的工作有哪些方面是令人满意的,有哪些挑战?

在YTL,我在非洲事务部工作,我的部分工作是为进入非洲市场特别是东非的中国投资者提供法律服务。国际商务交易、国际商务谈判、国际商务仲裁、条约仲裁等课程,使我具备了在跨境实践中开始职业生涯的必要法律武装。国际仲裁超越法律管辖范围。我的法律职业不需要获得这些司法管辖区的额外认证就可以进行。也许在STL学习最重要的好处是它给我提供了一个了解中国文化的平台。正是这种对中国文化的理解,使我能够为进入非洲市场的中国投资者提供充分的建议。作为乌干达唯一一名在中国执业的律师,通过在中国投资者和非洲公司之间架起文化桥梁,使我有机会在中非关系中发挥重要作用。最大的挑战仍然是语言。虽然我积极参加各种课程,但我的汉语水平仍处于HSK二级水平。学习一门新语言需要一段时间,所以我必须不断努力学习和提高。

 

5. 今年夏天,你应邀出席“一带一路”沿线国家贸易投资法律风险防范培训、国际工商界交流会议并发言。你能否解释一下,“一带一路”倡议将如何塑造中非关系?国际法律人才是如何影响这种关系的?

在YTL,我们进行外国律师跨法域执业,特别是“一带一路”倡议。因此,我有幸在各种法律风险预防论坛上发言。“一带一路”建设是21世纪最大的工程。过去3年,中国在非洲投资约1700亿美元。在最近结束的中非合作论坛上,中国承诺在“一带一路”沿线投资600亿美元,涉及人力资源开发、电信、公路、桥梁、港口建设等领域。我们一定会看到在非洲的投资稳步增加。其中一些项目耗时较长,在某些情况下,由于文化框架的差异,它们会失败。作为跨国律师,我们需要具备文化素养,为“一带一路”沿线的中国投资者和各方之间架起一座桥梁。这就需要我们对不同的法律框架有透彻的了解,能够代表投资者联系监管部门,进行全面的尽职调查,并在争端发生之前就开展业务和为争端解决机制的最佳模式提出建议。

我们很可能看到非洲对中国的出口增加。截至2017年底,中国海关统计,中国从非洲的进口已达752.6亿美元。随着“一带一路”互联互通水平不断提高,加上中国近期承诺向非洲产品开放更多市场,从非洲到中国的进口将大幅增加。

 

6. 你一生中最大的成就是什么?如果20岁的你看到现在的你,他会怎么想?

我是个相对年轻的男人,才30岁。除了我所受的法律教育以及有机会在乌干达最大的律师事务所工作之外,到目前为止我所做的所有事情中,找到我生命中的爱和做一个父亲给我带来了最大的快乐。我不知道是否还有更大的。

 

7. 你最近当上了父亲,这如何改变了你的人生观,是否希望有一天你的儿子能加入STL杰出的社区。我们知道他会取得好成绩的,因为他是一个年轻的家伙。

做一个父亲会带走所有以自我为中心的东西。你开始为你的妻子和孩子们生活和工作。照顾孩子和课堂任务之间的平衡一直是个挑战,但抱着孩子的快乐让你忘记了所有的挑战。看着你的宝宝一天天长大,学会对他微笑是最纯粹的快乐。我们的儿子大体上是北京大学的学生。他出生在这里——5号楼是他的第一个家。我希望20年后,他会考虑加入这个很棒的机构。这将是一个写在天上的故事。

如果我没有提到一些人,他们在我在这里的时间里帮了我很大的忙,那我就是失职了。Ray教授和Elaine Campbell教授,他们是我们在中国的教母,他们向我们开放了他们的家。还有John Aycock和 Zoe Dai,他们总是在需要的时候出现。我和妻子非常感激他们为我们所做的一切。

 

8. 最后,你对最近被STL录取的LL.M.国际学生有什么建议?对于准备申请STL的学生呢?

STL提供许多种类。因此,有一种诱惑,要注册尽可能多的课程。虽然这丰富了一个人的一般知识,我认为如果一个人要发展一种专业技能,他们需要选择与他们的职业抱负同步的课程。此外,如果可能的话,我会建议新学生在第一年结束前努力达到他们的学分要求,并在第二年找到工作。

对于那些申请者来说,未来是在中国东部,而不是美国或欧洲,STL提供了一个成为新叙述的一部分的平台。STL和世界上其他顶尖大学一样具有竞争力。这里的学生将在正确的时间出现在正确的地点。我鼓励他们利用现有的许多奖学金机会。


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