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The former head of Lovells’ Beijing office Robert Lewis has given up his role at Shanghai firm AllBright Law Offices less than a year after joining.
Lewis joined Zhong Lun Law Offices in Beijing earlier this month as international managing partner. He will sit on the firm’s global management committee with the task of coordinating Zhong Lun’s international strategy and promoting its international cooperation relationships.
He told The Lawyer that he had made the move from AllBright to Zhong Lun after realising that he needed to be in a Beijing-based firm.
“I’m still very much of the view that there are particular market opportunities for senior foreign lawyers to work in a local law platform,” Lewis said. “It’s much more difficult to penetrate some of that market in Beijing if you’re based in a firm that’s outside Beijing.”
Lewis said that he believed “over time” AllBright would be able to access some of the same opportunities, but it would take longer.
He added that he believed foreign law firms could still prosper in the Chinese market, but local firms still had some advantages.
When it came to Zhong Lun’s strategy, Lewis said the firm wanted to pursue non-exclusive relationships with international firms, particularly where there was potential for work on both inward and outbound investment from China.
Zhong Lun has over 500 lawyers working in offices around China as well as in Hong Kong and Tokyo.
Lewis left Lovells in April last year just days before its merger with Hogan & Hartson, signing up to head AllBright’s international practice (29 April 2010). During his time at the firm he had been instrumental in setting up its Sino-Global Legal Alliance (10 September 2007).