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DLA is applying for a licence to open an office in Shanghai, following its merger with Hong Kong firm Lui & Carey Dibbs at the end of last year.
"While Hong Kong is an international centre, it is now part of China," says DLA managing partner Nigel Knowles. "Shanghai is the domestic centre, and we envisage needing an office in both centres."
All foreign businesses need a licence to open in China, and there is already a long waiting list.
Hong Kong partner Mable Lui says: "We have a number of clients with clients in China, and to get close to them we have to be close to business in China. We understand the structure and the culture in China, and many foreign investors want us to give the legal input."
DLA already has lawyers visiting China two or three days a week.
"We've applied, and now we must wait. It might take six months, or it might take three years or more," says Knowles.