Pillsbury ditches Taiwan office in favour of Shanghai offering

San Francisco-headquartered Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman will open a Shanghai office, but will close its Taiwan offering.

The 860-lawyer firm finally had its licence approved by the Chinese authorities after a year of waiting. Applications to practise law in China are reviewed in cycles at designated times of the year.

Corporate partner and co-head of the China team Joseph Chan, currently in the San Francisco office, will be Shanghai managing partner, but no other lawyers have yet been named, despite firm chairman Jim Rishwain saying that the office would be staffed with locally trained lawyers and associates from the firm’s Silicon Valley office.

The hope is that the Shanghai office will leverage off the Silicon Valley office’s venture capital clients and focus on US flotations of Chinese technology companies. Chan said: “Having a Shanghai office will enhance our ability to serve these VCs [venture capitalists] and, ultimately, the companies in which such VCs invest.”

Pillsbury acquired the Taipei office through its 2005 merger with Shaw Pittman. There are currently only two technical consultants resident there. Pillsbury also has a three-partner Tokyo office.

The few other international firms that remain in Taipei include Baker & McKenzie, Jones Day, Morrison & Foerster and Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe. Rishwain would only say that the office “doesn’t fit our overall strategy”.

On becoming chairman at the beginning of the year, Rishwain also closed the firm’s Century City office in Los Angeles after the merger, claiming it was “not serving our purpose with respect to clients”.