Since 2012, the Chinese government has implemented a far-reaching anti-corruption campaign. For companies operating in China, internal anti-corruption and compliance are more important than ever before, meaning lawyers like Bingna Guo LLM ’02 are in high demand. She joined White & Case’s Beijing office as a partner in 2018 and prior to that she was a partner of O’Melveny & Myers in Beijing. She has spent nearly two decades developing an impressive practice focused on international anti-corruption investigations and compliance matters.
Guo says her interest in law began as a high school student in Shanghai, China when she attended a debate competition won by a team of students from Fudan University Law School. Following their example, she obtained a degree from Fudan Law. The choice of where to get her LLM was an easy one, Guo says. Many fellow alumni from Fudan Law had great experiences pursuing their LLMs at NYU Law, she says, adding, “NYU Law is known to be very welcoming to international students, and the environment is very international.”
Guo was a Hauser Global Scholar, which “opened the door for me to get more [involved] in international legal studies and activities,” she says. “I got to know Hauser scholars from other countries, who became friends even after my law school years.”
Another draw of the Law School: Professor Jerome Cohen, a US expert on international law and China’s legal system. “Professor Jerome Cohen… is very famous in China among Chinese legal professor circles, so I had heard a lot about him before I applied,” she says. She took his course on International Business Transactions with China and East Asia. Guo also recalls that she enjoyed taking Corporations with Nusbaum Professor of Law and Business William Allen.
Both courses, Guo says, were important building blocks for the career she has built in international anti-corruption and compliance. After graduating, Guo joined O’Melveny & Myers in the firm’s litigation department, first in Los Angeles, then in New York. Knowing that she wanted to eventually return to China, she says, “I tried to work on China-related matters. In those days and even now, I knew experience working in white-collar internal investigations would be valuable to a Beijing-based practice.”
After moving to O’Melveny’s Beijing office, Guo focused her practice on advising international companies developing business in China. “China is considered, unfortunately, a risk country under Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index,” Guo notes, “so there has been a lot of work under the FCPA [Foreign Corrupt Practices Act], and [companies] want somebody on the ground who is bilingual and knows the Chinese culture and the legal and business reality of Chinese operations.”
While confidentiality obligations limit her ability to offer specifics, a sampling of matters Guo has worked on demonstrates the breadth of her practice. For example, she helped a major solar energy company develop a comprehensive compliance program; she represented a Chinese airline in a California lawsuit over a plane crash in China; and she helped a multinational company navigate Chinese criminal proceedings after their employees were arrested in China.
Christine Chen LLM ’01, a partner at the China-based law firm Fangda Partners who has known Guo since 1995, when she was a student at Fudan Law School, praises Guo for her passion, dedication, and diligence in her work. In addition, Guo has “spent a lot of time and effort out of her busy schedule to do pro bono work,” Chen says. “She has a very warm heart.”
Posted November 19, 2019