China has made significant progress in raising the coverage of defense lawyers for criminal cases as the latest data from the Ministry of Justice show that 83 percent of county-level jurisdictions, 2,368 in total, have seen lawyers participate in all local criminal cases.
Beijing and 15 other provincial-level regions as well as the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, in particular, have seen all of their county-level administrations achieve full lawyer coverage, according to the ministry.
The ministry joined hands with the Supreme People’s Court to pilot the full lawyer coverage for criminal cases in eight provincial-level regions in September 2017. Since then, lawyers have provided legal aid in more than 590,000 criminal cases at the request of judicial authorities, and have offered legal assistance as on-duty lawyers in over 480,000 criminal cases.
Also in September 2017, the two authorities launched the pilot program of lawyer-led dispute mediation in 11 provincial-level regions.
So far, the program has spread to over 2,600 county-level regions across the country with the establishment of more than 8,600 lawyer-led mediation studios. About 49,000 lawyers from over 9,500 law firms have acted as mediators.
Since the launch of the pilot program, the mediation studios have handled over 250,000 cases, 85,000 of which ended with mediation agreements. During the COVID-19 prevention and control period alone they completed 18,000 cases.