Sheppard Mullin takes China plunge

Los Angeles-headquartered Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton has chosen China as the location for its first international offering, parachuting in former Coudert Brothers chairman David Huebner as regional managing partner, as well as raiding local firm AllBright for the launch.

The new Shanghai office will be Sheppard Mullin’s first overseas operation, although it already has US-based teams for Israel, Italy, Latin America and South Korea, as well as for China.

Sheppard Mullin, whose most recently documented turnover stood at $264m (£143.48m), is one of the last big West Coast firms to launch in China.

O’Melveny & Myers has the largest Shanghai presence with 21 lawyers, while Latham & Watkins, despite its preference to term itself a national firm, has four and Pinsent Masons‘ US ally Thelen Reid Brown Raysman & Steiner has five in Shanghai. Yet one of the most established West Coast firms, Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, has yet to open in China.

Sheppard Mullin chairman Guy Halgren said: “Many of our clients have operations in China and are pursuing aggressive growth plans there. It’s natural for us to establish a footprint in China to provide the support and guidance our clients require on both sides of the Pacific.”

Huebner, a dispute resolution partner, has extensive experience of Asia. He joined Sheppard Mullin after the implosion of Coudert, where he was firm chairman from 2003 to 2005.

As well as Huebner, Sheppard Mullin is transferring special counsel Xudong Ni from the firm’s Washington DC office. Sheppard Mullin also poached local firm AllBright for special counsel William Zheng and senior legal consultant Michael Zhang.