Cultural Tips for Doing Business in China

“Treat China as it is, not as what we want it to be.”

China is very different with its own customs and courtesies:  know it, respect it and practice it.  The three “Fs” of China are Friendship, Face-saving, and Food.

  1. Friendship: Conducting business in China is all about relationships and everything is personal. Trust needs to be built and matured and evolves over time. Everyone is very respectful and courteous. In the USA, if business people disagree, they may argue and raise their voices (and then go out to lunch as though nothing happened). This is not the case in China, where business meetings are always civil and every person is respectful.
  2. Face-Saving: The Chinese word for courtesy is “kei chi” (phonetically spelled).  Always show respect and be courteous.  “Mi casa es su casa” (“my house is your house”) is not applicable in China.  Bring several hundred business cards with you as when meeting businessmen or women; you need to give everyone present your business card.  Your business card needs to be presented with both hands on the card and with a slight bow to the recipient. Translate one side of your business card into Chinese.
  3. Food: Relationships are developed and deepened through food.  Food is very important for business and personal relationships.  Never discuss business at a banquet unless the other side brings it up first.  Typically, a Chinese banquet will have 14 or more courses.  The host will sit facing the exit and the most important guest will sit to the right of the host.  Expect many toasts.  When you toast, your cup rim must be below the other person’s cup – this shows respect and part of face-saving.  Reciprocate by hosting your own banquet. Do not offer to pay for your meal or to split the cost of the banquet. 

At the Meeting: 

  • Speak slowly and clearly. This will give the interpreter time.  Take turns talking.
  • Engage in active listening.
  • Keep in mind that “yes” does not mean “yes, I agree.” “Yes” means “yes, I am listening” or “maybe.”  “Maybe” means “no.”  And “no” definitely is “no.”
  • Ask open-ended questions (this goes back to practicing active listening above).
  • Announce the close of a particular subject.
  • In the USA, time is money. In China, do not let the other side know the urgency of your time schedule.
  • Be prepared to walk away.

Other Practical Tips:

It is courteous to bring a gift.  The gift must be tasteful, but it need not be expensive or extravagant.  Bring a gift that is indigenous to where you live or your company’s geographical location.  For example, if you are from Florida, as I am, bring books about Florida or candies from Florida.  You should plan to bring gifts for everyone, or you can give one gift from one company to the other company.  The presentation of the gift is important.  It must be wrapped nicely – select something colorful or red.  Do not wrap a gift in white or black as they are funeral colors for the Chinese.  Never give clocks, because they represent waiting for a funeral.  Never give knives, because they represent cutting of a relationship.

China is 12-13 hours ahead of the USA. Arrive in China at least a full day before the meeting in order to rest and prepare for the meeting.   If you hired a translator, meet with the translator prior to the meeting so the translator understands each party’s business and general idea of what you want to accomplish.

Avoid colloquial phrases and slang.  Western humor is different from Chinese humor. Jokes can be misinterpreted, especially when translated.

Lisa Hu Barquist, a business litigator at CPLS PA in downtown Orlando, Florida.  She speaks Mandarin Chinese, and represents U.S. and Chinese clients in complex business transactional and litigation matters. She was President of the Asian Pacific American Bar Association of South Florida, Chairwoman Ex Officio of the Miami-Dade County Asian American Advisory Board. Lisa is admitted to practice in Florida, New York, and California.  She earned a peer review rating of AV Preeminent®, Martindale-Hubbell’s highest possible rating for both ethical standards and legal ability and a testament to the fact that a lawyer’s peers rank her at the highest level of professional excellence. For more information, contact Lisa at CPLS P.A., 201 East Pine Street, 4th Floor, Orlando, Florida 3280, 407.647.7887 and lbarquist@cplapa.com.

About CPLS P.A.

CPLS PA is an Orlando, Florida business litigation firm committed to providing effective and efficient legal services to high net worth individuals, businesses and government agencies throughout the state of Florida, as well as clients outside of Florida and abroad. The firm concentrates on complex commercial litigation, including commercial real estate and stormwater litigation, shareholder, partner, member disputes, probate, alternative dispute resolution, mediation, and appellate law. 

Lisa Hu Barquist

Lisa Hu Barquist

Business Litigation Attorney

Storm Water Litigation Team

CPLS P.A. assembles Storm Water Litigation Team to address a growing Florida concern

Living in Florida does bring mild winter weather that attracts many residents each year. With a growing job market, a growing need to develop land to accommodate the housing needs comes with additional challenges.  One of the most common overlooked problems is flooding to make a land unusable due to poorly or negligently designed drainage system that was designed and installed by another developer without consideration of other landowners or future development considerations.  When a parcel of land is not properly graded for storm water drainage, landowner loses the right of quiet enjoyment. What do you do? How do you protect your rights as a property owner and recover from this traumatic damage to your land? 

CPLS, P.A. is the forefront of this issue and has assembled a highly experienced Stormwater Litigation Team to resolve these matters and assist property owners in protecting their rights and recovering compensation to fix the damage from stormwater flooding issues.  Issues from stormwater flooding have become significant enough of a problem that the Florida Bar recently published an article regarding the need to update rules in stormwater management.  

Andrew (Andy) Lannon is an experienced Litigation Attorney and holds 2 board certifications. His clients entrust him to handle even the most complex of Litigation cases.  His experiences as a Land Use and Real Estate Development Attorney make him a powerful advocate for his clients.  He has have worked for all branches of government: federal, state, and local. I clerked for Justice Quince at the Florida Supreme Court to start my career and then went to an AM Law 100 firm in Orlando. I spent 10 years at the Palm Bay City Attorney’s Office, serving as Palm Bay City Attorney for nearly 7 years. He is double board-certified by the Florida Bar in both City, County & Local Government Law and in Business Litigation, one of only 2 attorneys out of the over 100,000 attorneys in Florida with both of these certifications. Finally, he has been recognized in the top 1% of attorneys practicing in Florida every year since 2012 by Florida Trend’s Florida Legal Elite. 

Lisa Hu Barquist has made a career in handling the most complex business litigation matters. As an American Immigrant from China, she has overcome various forms prejudice and has used these experiences to “level the playing field” between parties of unequal strength.   She is passionate getting results that matter even in the most competitive of environments. I am a graduate of Yale and the University of Southern California. I have worked for 5 AMLaw 100 firms and spent 11 years at the United States Attorney’s Office in Miami and in Rochester, New York. I have 3 decades of trial experience. She is also fluent in Mandarin Chinese.

If your property is faced with catastrophic damage from storm water flooding, schedule a consultation with the Storm water litigation team by calling us at (877) 647-7887.

How you can choose the right Attorney to handle your stormwater litigation case

The person must be board certified by the Florida in City, County & Local Government Law and have worked for 5+ years as a City Attorney, County Attorney or as general counsel for a Water Management District. It is recommended that the lawyer be certified in Business Litigation, Civil Litigation or Construction Law, or alternatively, be a demonstrably seasoned trial attorney like my colleague, Lisa Hu Barquist, who was a United States Attorney for 11 years. Finally, the person must have an experienced storm water expert witness on standby to prepare a report detailing who is to blame for your storm water problem and testify to its veracity and accuracy in a Court of law.

Andrew Lannon

Andrew Lannon

Attorney | Stormwater Litigation | Business Litigation

Overcoming Obstacles During a Mediation

How can a mediator’s past experience help them when parties hit a wall during Mediation? Maybe it’s time to get some Perspective.

I wanted to share a Mediation Insight I hope may be useful that deals with the ways in which a mediator’s past personal and professional life experiences can serve to make us better mediators.

As an artist and a professional science fiction cartoonist, I have found that you sometimes get stuck when you are creating and may not know where to take your pencil or brush next.

Artists are trained to either:

A. Step back in order to gain perspective and/or see the piece from a different perspective.
B. Take a break and come back to the piece later.

By the same token, I have found this concept helpful as a mediator when the parties hit a roadblock on some issue during mediation. So when this happens in mediation, consider:

      1. Try moving onto another related issue as you try to get the parties moving forward again. Then as appropriate,              swing them back to the issue they were stuck on previously.

  1. Try taking a break. Sometimes fresh air or getting something to eat and/or drink can also help to get parties moving again.

    And remember that being a well-rounded person with other interests and experiences makes us better mediators.

We have all had experiences that have shaped us into the people that we are today. For an attorney/mediator for instance, your Litigation experience, will probably use your negotiation experiences as a template to guide parties through mediation. Sometimes, even with a great Alternative Dispute Resolution strategy in place, you still hit a wall in which both parties seem to be stuck.

If you would like additional training in building a more profitable mediation practice while earning CLE/CME credits, check out our Mediation Mastery seminars.  

Tye Bourdony

Tye Bourdony


What to do before Land Excavation

What Real Estate Developers need to know about Land Development BEFORE Excavation

 As Florida continues to grow, it is necessary to understand the dynamic environmental impact of issues involving land development. Florida Legislatures have enacted rules to regulate a safer development of Real Estate to prevent irreversible damage to homeowners. Stormwater Litigation Attorney Andrew Lannon is a passionate advocate for property owners in Florida and uses the law to ensure property rights are protected.

Underground Facility Damage Prevention and Safety Act

The Florida Legislature, by and through Chapter 93-240, otherwise known as the Underground Facility Damage Prevention and Safety Act, created a non-profit corporation called Sunshine State One-Call of Florida, Inc. (hereinafter “Sunshine 811”). Sunshine 811’s primary duty is the location and coordination of underground excavation for the express purpose of preventing damage to improvements from excavation. If a contractor fails to comply with sections 556.101 et. seq., Fla. Stat., a rebuttable presumption will arise that the excavator was negligent should any damages to a facility occur. Please note that Sunshine 811 is neither permitted nor required to either locate or mark underground facilities. Any violator of the Act may be assessed a civil penalty ranging from $1,000-$5,000, issued by the authority which issued the permit for the excavation.

Under the Act, not less than two (2) business days before commencing any excavation or demolition, save an excavation beneath the waters of the State of Florida, an excavator shall provide the following information to Sunshine 811:

          Name, street address, and telephone number of individual providing information;

          Name, street address, and telephone number of the person’s employer;

          Name, telephone number and e-mail address for the representative for the excavator in order to facilitate a positive response by the system, if available;

          The county, city or closest city, and the street address or nearest intersection to the location of the excavation or demolition to be performed, including the construction limits thereof;

          Commencement date and anticipated duration of the excavation or demolition;

          The type of work to be done, approximate depth of excavation, and whether machinery will be used for the      operation;

          The person or entity for whom the work is being performed;

          The type of work to be performed;

          The approximate depth of the excavation.

The information is given when you call the statewide toll-free number during business hours (800.432.4770 or 811). Notification received outside of business hours is considered received the next business day.

If a member operator determines that there is a proximity to or conflict with an underground facility of the operator, that operator shall mark and identify by stakes, paint, flags or other suitable means the location of the facility within twenty-four inches (24”) from the outer edge of either side. The Uniform Color Code for Utilities of the A.P.W.A. shall be used for horizontal marking. This marking must occur within two (2) business days of the notification. If the horizontal markings are at any point removed or fall off, they shall be promptly replaced.

Please note that an excavator may not ignore a known underground facility even though it has not been marked. Instead, the demolition shall not proceed until the underground facilities have been marked, located and (if possible) removed. A member operator who certifies that it does not have accurate information is exempt from marking but shall provide the best available information to the excavator. In such an event, the excavator is not liable for damage to an underground facility if the excavation is performed with reasonable care. 

In the event of an emergency, Sunshine 811 must be notified of the excavation within the earliest opportunity. It still may proceed to provide reasonable precautions are taken to protect any underground facilities. An emergency is defined as any condition constituting a clear and present danger to life or property caused by (1) escape of a material or substance transported via underground facility; (2) interruption or vital public service or communication caused by a break or defect in a member operator’s underground facility; or (3) use of highways, streets, or roads owned, operated or maintained by a governmental entity is impaired by an unforeseen occurrence which necessitates immediate repair.

Andrew Lannon

Andrew Lannon

Attorney | Stormwater Litigation | Business Litigation

Immigration Law Update: Changes to Asylum

Immigration Now: Immigration Bill & Changes to Asylum

President Biden sent an immigration bill to Congress which includes the following:

  1. Five-year pathway to permanent residence for undocumented immigrants present in the country on January 21, 2021, followed by a three-year wait for naturalization.
  2. Eliminating the three- and ten-year bars that prevent many individuals from returning to the US for 3 or 10 years because of previous unauthorized stays in the country.
  3. Requirement to provide counsel to children and other vulnerable individuals placed into immigration proceedings who cannot afford a lawyer.
  4. Emphasize smart technology for border management, including the modernization of border infrastructure at ports of entry.

If passed, this bill would open the possibility of obtaining legal status to millions of individuals that currently reside in the country, as well as to family members of many US citizens and lawful permanent residents.

Asylum Seekers subject to Migrant Protection Protocols will be Allowed Into the Country

During the Trump administration, asylum seekers at the Southern border were sent back to Mexico to wait for court hearings. The current administration stopped this practice and created a plan to allow those currently waiting in Mexico under the Migrant Protection Program (MPP) to be allowed entry into the country.

Phase One of the process will start February 19th. Individuals in MPP with a pending case will be able to find out when and where they will be allowed to reenter using an online or phone service. Upon entry, they will be placed in an alternative to detention program and released to a local border shelter for transportation to a final destination.

‘Safe Third Country’ Agreements Ended

President Biden suspended and began the process of withdrawing from the Asylum Cooperative Agreements entered into by the prior administration with Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. Under the terms of these agreements, individuals seeking to apply for asylum in the US could be denied this opportunity and sent to one of the above countries to apply for asylum there. This could be done even if the applicant did not pass through any of these countries on their way to the US.

If you would like to talk to an attorney to discuss your immigration options, contact Attorney Evelyn J. Pabon Figueroa at (407) 647-7887 or epabonfigueroa@cplspa.com.

Evelyn Pabon Figueroa

Evelyn Pabon Figueroa

Immigration Attorney

Future Pacing

Future Pacing - Working on the New You

"Failing to plan is planning to fail"

Entrepreneurial and life goals coincide in ways many other goals do not.  For entrepreneurs, their life goals are tied to their entrepreneurial dreams, and these goals take the entrepreneur and her family for the ride of their lives. At the beginning of the journey a flood of positive emotions of hope, dreams of making it, feeling of independence, and excitement engulf the entrepreneur.  In the first leg of the journey, some pain sets in as the realization of the limitations on resources set in; time, money, necessary relationships, are just three of the hurdles entrepreneurs face during this stage.  In the second stage of the journey, the entrepreneur starts to experience enhanced pain and doubt raises its ugly head. If the entrepreneur does not have a good consultant or coach to help navigate the phases of the entrepreneurial process, the doubt grows into a crippling fear, devastating the entrepreneur and, many times, family members.

Future Pacing – YOU 2.0

Skilled consultants and coaches have many tools in their tool belts to help budding and seasoned entrepreneurs.  One of the most important tool is FUTURE PACING the entrepreneur to help her create a vision of herself 10 years into the future (YOU 2.0), and helping her build a bridge from now to then.   Since the entrepreneur’s business is usually an integral part of her vision of herself, it is necessarily included in the journey from YOU 1.0 to YOU 2.0. 

The process begins with the consultant/coach helping the entrepreneur create a detail vision of YOU 2.0 self. This includes the creation of an avatar for the entrepreneur that encompasses her YOU 2.0 physical self, emotional self, spiritual self, the knowledge she has accumulated, the relationships she has, her home, her business, her skills, and everything else that she envisions herself being.  Once done, the consultant/coach helps the entrepreneur to reinforce this idea of her YOU 2.0 so that it become her life ultimate mission.  The process then turns to an assessment of the entrepreneur’s personal development matrix, so that she can take an honest look at herself.  The matrix analyzes the entrepreneur’s core knowledge, skills, abilities, disciplines, dedication, focus, beliefs, values, health, experiences, rules and relationship with herself. The result is usually a clear understanding of the entrepreneur’s personal strengths and weaknesses. This can be an eye-opening process for entrepreneurs, and serve as a “reality check.” Simply put, if you do not know where you are, it does not matter where you are going.

After the personal assessment is complete, the consultant/coach then helps the entrepreneur focus on developing a current relationship matrix. The focus here is primarily external with a focus on the entrepreneur’s relationships, finances, physical assets, other resources, opportunities, and external threats or roadblocks.

With a good understanding of the entrepreneur’s current state, the consultant/coach can then move onto helping develop a future identity, her YOU 2.0 (usually 5 to 10 years in the future).  Once this future identity is developed, and the entrepreneur has a vivid image of her future self,  she works with the consultant/coach to set reasonable and realistic goals each month and year (with yearly themes) which, once achieved, will get her that much closer to her YOU 2.0. As she travels through the process, she transforms into the version of herself she sees, and consistently re-evaluates her YOU 2.0, upgrading her model self annually, chasing her future with relentless passion.

This passion and thirst for growth and development spills over into the entrepreneur’s business and family, so they all grow together, consistently helping each other reach their YOU 2.0. 

Future pacing is just one of the planning tools offered by Business and  Executive Coaching Consultants at CPLS, P.A. as a part of our Private Corporate Counsel program. If you would like to learn more or set up a consultation, give us a call at 407.647.7887 or email me at Attorneypersad@cplspa.com.

Tee Persad

Tee Persad

Attorney | Mediator | Executive Consultant

Pandemic and Divorce

Emotions and Value Creation.

The Magna Carta created jury trials, grand juries, and abolished “trial by ordeal” in 1215.  A century later, the Black Plague swept all of Europe. Thus “A Jury of Our Peers” has been the hallmark of justice for more than 4 centuries before the founding of these United States. Today, a new worldwide pandemic is challenging our notion of liberty.

A client asked recently whether we were seeing a recession due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Truthfully, many lawyers are busier than ever, though not necessarily with new work. Each court in each different county or circuit has set up specific procedures for handling cases. Some courts, immediately set up video conferencing for hearings; others took a bit more time to explore options. Orange County is in the Ninth Circuit while Seminole County is in the 18th Circuit. Each has a different procedure and both vary in how they handle hearings.  

Criminal courts in all areas had largely instituted video conferencing for first appearance years ago, but with a pandemic the larger problem is how to provide safe and secure access for those arrested to meet privately with their attorney. All courts in Florida, the Supreme Court, District Courts of Appeal, Circuit and County Courts have been wrestling with  how to assure the safety of the public, how to prevent exposure from those infected, how to protect the rights of those accused of crimes and how to protect the due process to assure fair and just hearings. Jury trials are being scheduled but may not occur until 2021 or later. This places our entire judicial system in peril.

Family attorneys began using Collaborative methods is not always easy, but using a team concept and keeping decisions about your family within your control makes collaboration effective in Central Florida. Using Zoom meetings, for coaches, clients and professionals to work out all the details before even filing can allow a much more controllable process and keep the outcome well within your needs.

Divorcing spouses often have difficulty trusting one another, and unfortunately our courts’ adversarial proceedings in litigation tend to further erode openness and trust by encouraging spouses to fight not only for their own interests but also against the interests of their spouse. When Collaboration occurs, the family’s needs are addressed by professionals and the spouses do not have to “trust” the litigation. They only have to trust the professional who are the guardians of the process. The Collaborative Process works, even in pandemic times and 2020.

Pandemics lead to change. How much change occurs depends on your choices and may be impacted by the choices of those around you. Wash your hands; wear a mask; take care of yourself and others. Peace.


Aubrey Ducker

Aubrey Ducker

Family Law Attorney

Child Support and the Pandemic

As almost every aspect of our lives continues to be impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, many people are finding it hard to make ends meet as they wait for the economy to re-open.  This is particularly true for those that must still try to manage on-going Court ordered financial obligations such as child support.  I have received a lot of questions lately from parents eager to learn about whether they can modify their existing support payments due to loss of income during Covid-19, and while the general rule in family law cases is that child support can be modified, people seeking Covid-19 related modifications may face certain hurdles.  

Florida law permits the modification of child support obligations, either up or down, based on a substantial, unanticipated, long-term change of circumstances.  In most cases, child support modification requests are based on a reduction in a parent’s income usually caused by a change in or elimination of employment.  If such a change in employment has occurred, then the proper avenue to pursue is to seek a modification through the filing of a Supplemental Petition for Modification.  In such a petition, the parent seeking modification must fully state the reasons as to why they can no longer make their Court-ordered support payments, including indicating when the income reduction started and how long the situation may be expected to last.   

here are two main issues with requesting child support modifications during the Covid-19 pandemic that I can see.  The first issue is whether or not a parent’s reduction in income would constitute a long-term change or a change that is more permanent in nature, versus a temporary reduction in income that has the potential, in the near future, to go back to pre-Covid 19 levels.  This is evaluated on a case-by-case basis and determined by the industry in which a paying parent works, including the ability of that industry to get back going again.  For example, if a parent is furloughed from their employment, but expected to return to work by June, then it may be difficult to argue to the Court for a modification of your support obligations.  If however, you work in an industry, or at a job that may not bounce back quickly, or at all, then your chances of obtaining a modification of your child support amounts would be greatly increased.   

he other main issue that could arise, depending on the county in which you live, is how to access to Court system during Covid-19.  Back in March, the Florida Supreme Court issued orders that effectively closed courthouses throughout the State for all but essential court proceedings through the end of May.  Under the guidelines provided by the Florida Supreme Court, the lower courts throughout Florida are to try to continue court services and proceedings using whatever technology is available to them.  This means many non-essential hearings, such as child support issues, may be able to be heard telephonically or even by video until the Courts reopen to the public.  

Each county is handling these issues slightly differently, with some counties moving full steam ahead with video and telephonic hearings, while others are only hearing essential matters, so if you have questions about your child support during Covid-19 it’s important to speak with an experienced family law attorney to discuss your specific case and circumstances.  Attorney Russell J. Frank is a partner at CPLS, P.A., and focuses his practice areas on family and marital law.  Contact Attorney Frank today at rfrank@cplspa.com to discuss any family or marital legal issues you may be experiencing.

Russell Frank

Russell Frank

Family Law Attorney