Faegre & Benson takes first steps in Shanghai

FAEGRE & Benson, the US partner firm of Hobson Audley, has made its first foray into Asia by opening an office in Shanghai.

The move is part of the Minneapolis firm’s continuing overseas expansion programme.

It first opened in London in 1985, forming a multinational partnership with Hobson Audley in 1997. Earlier this month the US firm’s Frankfurt office merged with German practice Brendel Ekkenga Daniel, to form Faegre Benson Brendel (The Lawyer, 12 March).

Faegre chairman Phil Garon says the Shanghai office, its first Asian operation, is “the next critical step in the aggressive growth of our international services”.

Partner George Martin will still head the firm’s Greater China practice, dividing his time between Minneapolis and Shanghai, but he will be based in the US. “We’ll now have lawyers in the US and China,” he says. “This will add tremendous value and convenience to our clients.”

It is not yet known how many lawyers will staff the office when it opens in early April.

A number of international firms have applied for licences to open in China. The country is currently attempting to join to the World Trade Organisation and so it must permit foreign companies and firms to establish operations.

Faegre & Benson follow US firm Dorsey & Whitney’s footsteps, which was awarded a licence to open in Shanghai earlier this month (The Lawyer, 5 March).

Faegre & Benson and Dorsey & Whitney join several US firms already in China, including White & Case, Brown & Wood and Coudert Brothers. UK firms Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Linklaters & Alliance are awaiting licences for second offices.