Stephenson Harwood unveils Beijing launch and Singapore association

Stephenson Harwood has launched in Beijing and set up an exclusive association in Singapore in a double move to boost its Asian presence.

The City firm launched in the Chinese capital today (1 May) with corporate and commercial lawyer James Zhang, who will be joined soon by a second lawyer focusing on shipping law.

Zhang, who is a legal director at the firm, is PRC-qualified and joined the firm in April. He was previously at Baker & McKenzie and legacy Herbert Smith as an associate.

The office will cover corporate and commercial, international arbitration, finance, marine and international trade and wealth management advice. It is currently recruiting lawyers across maritime law, arbitration and finance.

The second office member will also take the legal director role.

The firm already has bases in Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Shanghai and Beijing, with the latest addition marking its ninth outpost worldwide.

Stephenson Harwood Greater China managing partner Voon Keat Lai said in a statement: “The aim of the new office is to be geographically closer to clients in the northern part of China and to support them in their business objectives. Beijing is China’s financial and administrative centre and it is important for a firm such as ours to have a presence on the ground.”

Meanwhile, the firm has signed an exclusive referral association with Singapore’s Virtus Law after its unsuccessful application for a qualifying foreign law practice licence earlier this year (19 February 2013). Virtus is a successor firm to Arthur Loke, which was established in Singapore in 1981, and is headed by senior partner Arthur Loke.

The news follows the firm’s launch in Dubai last year (23 April 2012), while it also operates an association with Kuwaiti firm ASAR – Al Ruwayeh & Partners and in Indonesia with Christian Teo Purwono & Partners (28 November 2011). In 2012 it also ended its relationship with Paris firm BCTG & Associés (13 February 2013).

Late last year Clifford Chance sealed an association with Singapore litigation boutique Cavenagh Law enabling the allied firms to offer local and international advice (11 December 2012).

Separately, US firm Kirkland & Ellis is gearing up to launch in Beijing (30 April 2013).