China 2018: Leading Firms

There is fierce competition between domestic and international firms in China, who compete “head to head” for top clients and transactions. In order to succeed, law firms must constantly innovate and adapt to rapid changes in the market, the internationalisation of businesses operations, technological developments and heightened client expectations. There is a huge volume of work available, and in this complex market clients recognise the need for highly skilled and experienced legal counsel to help them realise their commercial objectives.

Many of the domestic firms are incredibly sophisticated players. Despite the relatively “young” nature of many PRC firms, and the legal market as a whole, rapid economic development has provided opportunities for fast and sustained growth in size and revenue, and produced a number of heavyweight firms who compete successfully on domestic and international matters.

Many international firms have also set up shop in China and report thriving practices. International firms bring vast global networks and broad cross-border commercial expertise. They boast in-depth market expertise and the option for a joined-up service with legal counsel in other jurisdictions in which they operate.

The Chinese legal market is home to a huge number of successful domestic and international firms. Here we have highlighted 10 key players. 

PRC firms

ANJIE LAW FIRM

AnJie Law Firm provides a full-service offering to domestic and international clients across a broad range of industries. Its team of lawyers regularly advise major private companies, financial entities, industry associations and state-owned enterprises in sophisticated corporate transactions, disputes and regulatory matters. With deep commercial expertise and broad international experience, practitioners at the firm are able to provide sophisticated and pragmatic counsel on any commercial issue. Areas of significant expertise include competition law, insurance, IP, labour and employment and dispute resolution. Standout names in the competition space include Michael Gu and Zhan Hao, who is also a highly regarded lawyer for complex insurance and reinsurance matters.

DEHENG

DeHeng occupies a prominent position as one of the largest full-service law firms in China. The firm is headquartered in Beijing and has 25 offices across the country, giving complete coverage of the market. In addition, the firm has six overseas offices and enjoys strong relationships with a global network over 100 associated law firms located in major business hubs around the world. This enables to DeHeng to provide an integrated one-stop offering for clients in China and abroad. In addition, many of the firm’s 1,300 professionals have gained professional and academic qualifications abroad, giving an impressive depth of international commercial experience.

FANGDA PARTNERS

Fangda Partners is a leading corporate law firm with offices in Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen and Hong Kong. With a focus on PRC law, the firm serves Chinese and international clients in all areas of commercial law and has played a pivotal role in groundbreaking TMT, banking and M&A transactions. Many of the firm’s 200 lawyers have international experience and are dual-qualified in other jurisdictions. The firm is therefore well equipped to operate on significant cross-border deals. Fangda Partners boasts a strong dispute resolution practice, which is home to Helen Shi, a top name for arbitration and litigation work, and has earned an excellent reputation for contentious matters arising in corporate deals, banking and international trade. Michael Han occupies a prominent position at the forefront of the market for competition law advice in China, while Xie Zheng is a high-ranking practitioner for labour and employment matters.

JUNHE

JunHe is a heavyweight player in the Chinese market and enjoys a reputation for excellence in commercial transactions and litigation. The firm has offices throughout mainland China and in Hong Kong, New York and Silicon Valley. Alongside “best friend” firms in other jurisdictions, JunHe provides a global service for cross-border transactions and international disputes, and is a prominent player in the antitrust sphere. Lawyers from the firm’s multidisciplinary practice groups provide top-quality advice across a range of industries and are regularly engaged to advise on some of the most complex and innovative legal issues. JunHe is a dominant player in the market for competition law. Standout competition lawyers include Janet Hui as well as Wei Yingling and Audrey Chen, who are also highlighted for their expertise in M&A transactions. The firm’s corporate governance practice is a well-established force in the market and is home to Xiao Wei and Ding Jianxiang, who are highly regarded practitioners in the space. Jeffrey Wilson is a top lawyer for labour and employment matters in China.

ZHONG LUN

Zhong Lun is one of the largest outfits in China and a go-to firm for an impressive range of Fortune 500 companies, state-owned enterprises, investment banks and international organisations. The full-service offering encompasses 28 practice areas and provides comprehensive coverage of the Chinese market. With over 260 partners and 1,200 members of staff spanning its network of 15 offices worldwide, the firm is revered for its integrated legal advice on sophisticated cross-border transactions, regulatory matters and disputes. Zhong Lun is among the leading players in trade and customs matters, with Pu Lingchen highlighted as an eminent practitioner in the Chinese market. Cao Lijun is strong in the arbitration space and Robert Lewis excels in the TMT arena. 


Foreign firms

BAKER MCKENZIE

International law firm Baker McKenzie provides sophisticated transactional advice to major Chinese companies, multinationals and financial institutions. The firm is regularly engaged in high-profile deals and specialises in strategic advice to further clients’ commercial goals. In 2015 Baker McKenzie established a joint venture partnership with local firm FenXun Partners, which enables it to service clients with top-quality counsel on matters of PRC law including M&A, antitrust, IP, corporate finance and capital markets. Standout individuals at the firm include Harvey Lau, an impressive expert in aviation finance, and Danian Zhang, who excels in climate change matters.

CLIFFORD CHANCE

With over 30 years’ experience advising in China, Clifford Chance is a well-established firm in the market. From its offices in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong, the full-service firm provides comprehensive counsel on matters including finance, capital markets, M&A and dispute resolution. With deep legal and commercial expertise, Clifford Chance lawyers provide Chinese clients with strategic advice on outbound investment and international expansion and are a go-to firm for foreign companies doing business in China. Bai Yong is a knowledgeable adviser on competition law and Maggie Lo is widely endorsed for her expertise in banking and finance.

DENTONS

Dentons is the largest firm in the Chinese market and operates from 45 locations across the country. Following its combination with Dacheng in 2015, Dentons is also the world’s largest law firm, with a team of over 6,500 lawyers and professionals worldwide. The global giant provides a full-service offering to domestic and international businesses operating in China and abroad. Its size and strong global presence give Dentons the muscle to deal with large-scale cross border matters. Experts advise on transactions, banking, investment and project finance matters to advance clients’ commercial goals in China and abroad, and the firm is also home to a strong dispute resolution group.

HOGAN LOVELLS

Hogan Lovells is one of the largest foreign law firms in operating the market and is well known for its proven track record in outbound and inbound deals, regulatory matters and disputes. The firm operates a commercial approach to further clients’ business objectives and its expertise encompasses the full spectrum of practice areas and industries. Hogan Lovells has offices in Beijing and Shanghai and extends its coverage of the market through strong professional networks with top local law firms. In a joint venture partnership with Fujian Fidelity Law Firm it offers clients integrated transactional and regulatory advice and dispute resolution services in the fields of IP, corporate law, financial securities and compliance. Terence Wong is a top lawyer in the construction space, while Adrian Emch is a highly regarded competition lawyer.

KING & WOOD MALLESONS

International law firm King & Wood Mallesons has a strong footprint in Asia owing to a huge depth of experience in the region. The firm is a leading player in the Chinese market, and its 11 offices are home to approximately 1,000 lawyers specialising in a complete range of practice areas. The firm has a strong M&A practice, vast expertise in dispute resolution and also provides a full service IP offering. Practitioners are regularly engaged to advise on cutting-edge legal matters to assist multinational companies, financial institutions and state-owned entities with their operations and investments in China. Ariel Ye is a market-leading lawyer for litigation work, and is also highly recommended for her expertise in arbitration, asset recovery and product liability defence. Xiao Jin is an expert in trade and customs and Meg Utterback is one of the top players for construction advice. Lucy Lu performs well in labour and employment matters, while Xy Li is highly regarded for M&A work.

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Nominees have been selected based upon comprehensive, independent survey work with both general counsel and private practice lawyers worldwide. Only specialists who have met independent international research criteria are listed.

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