Herbert Smith Freehills recently announced a joint operation with a Chinese law firm in the Shanghai Free Trade Zone, becoming the latest international firm to take advantage of a government-sanctioned program that gives foreign firms Chinese law capability.
At least a dozen global firms are now operating Chinese associations in various forms, offering one-stop-shop services that include Chinese legal opinions, court appearances and dealing with regulators. The 5-year-old Shanghai FTZ scheme, which has also benefited Linklaters, Ashurst, HFW, Hogan Lovells and Baker McKenzie, is one of several ways firms can get access to Chinese law practices.
Before launching the FTZ program for foreign law firms, the Chinese government tried a similar joint venture program for mainland Chinese and Hong Kong law firms. U.K. firms Clyde & Co and Stephenson Harwood both registered China branches under their Hong Kong offices and set up their Chinese alliances under that scheme.
The government programs require a commitment to the Chinese firm and are generally restrictive in nature. Under the programs, it’s more difficult to control the quality of the Chinese partner firm’s work. [read more]
Source: Anna Zhang | The American Lawyer