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New York firm Chadbourne & Parke is to open an office in China, having been granted a licence by the Chinese Ministry of Justice.
Chadbournes applied for the licence in 1994. It has finally received its certificate of approval and is now in the process of deciding exactly which lawyers it will charge with the responsibility of establishing the practice.
The firm has not confirmed whether it will open in Beijing or Shanghai.
Operations partner Charles O'Neill says it has not been decided whether the firm will make lateral hires or transfer people from the US.
He says Chadbournes has long recognised the importance of the Chinese market to its clients.
He says: "The approval process went slowly for some time and then all of a sudden it sped up and came about quickly, so we are still at the planning stage.
"We have done a number of deals in China and I think to say that China is an important market is to state the obvious. We are looking forward to serving our clients as they return to and expand our operations in the country."
He refuses to name the firm's clients who are active in the region.
Another 12 firms were granted licences to operate in China in the latest round of approvals. Rival US firm White & Case is poised to open in Shanghai while UK firms Barlow Lyde & Gilbert and Ince & Co are also in the process of setting up in the city.
Singapore firms Colin Ng & Partners, the associated firm of UK shipping specialist Sinclair Roche & Temperley, and Drew & Napier have also got permission to open new offices (The Lawyer, 19 June).
Chadbourne & Parke has additional US offices in Washington DC and Los Angeles and has set-ups in Moscow, Hong Kong and London.
The 400-lawyer firm also has relationships with firms in Azerbaijan, Almaty, Minsk, Melbourne and Kiev.