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The head of Lovells’ Beijing office has left the firm on the eve of its merger with Hogan & Hartson to join China’s AllBright Law Offices.
Robert Lewis, who was the driving force behind Lovells’ Sino-Global Legal Alliance (SGLA), joins AllBright’s Beijing office on 1 May - the day the Hogan-Lovells union goes live - to head its international practice. His title at the Chinese firm will be senior international legal consultant.
Lewis has been a partner at Lovells since 2001, having previously been Asia general counsel for Nortel Networks. Lewis’s strong contacts in China, where he has lived and worked since 1993, were key when Lovells set up the SGLA in 2007, initially partnering with nine regional Chinese firms in a non-exclusive referral network (10 September 2007).
He oversaw the expansion of the SGLA and forged close links between the alliance firms (21 July 2008), of which AllBright is one.
Both Hogan and Lovells have offices in Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai and Lewis is expected to continue working closely with the merged firm as part of the SGLA. Having been chairman of the SGLA, he will take on the role of chief administrative officer while vice-president Xue Yunhua, who is managing partner of Guangzhou-based SGLA member Guangda, will become chair.
Lovells Beijing partner Thomas Man will become a vice-chair of the alliance, serving alongside exisiting vice-chairmen Lawrence Zhu, managing partner of AllBright, and Cai Xueen, managing partner of Wuhan-based SGLA member Dewell Law Offices.
In a statement Lewis said: “I’m very pleased in my new roles to have the opportunity to continue to promote the original objectives of the SGLA to develop a new model for legal practice in China, melding international and domestic legal services resources and capabilities.
“In my new position with AllBright in Beijing, I’ll be able to leverage the competitive efficiencies of a leading domestic Chinese law firm through the national and international network of the SGLA, providing additional value for both foreign and domestic clients, particularly in certain key market segments not served by international law firms. ”