Orrick finally secures Coudert’s China licences

Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe has ended its long-running bid to obtain operating licences for the mainland China offices it acquired from defunct firm Coudert Brothers.

It is understood that the China Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and the respective city’s judiciary bureaus have granted permission for the amendment of the licences for both Coudert’s Beijing and Shanghai offices.

Orrick is now expected to officially launch in mainland China later this year once it has finalised administrative details for the offices, such as tenancy agreements and opening back accounts.

The revelation ends almost a year’s worth of speculation over whether Orrick would be granted licences for both offices. This is because the usual protocol in China is for law firms to hold a licence to operate in one location in China for three years before being able to apply for a second licence in another city.

Orrick drafted in China firm King & Wood to assist with the licence process, which was further clouded by the firm’s use of former Hollywood movie star and current Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger as a reference.

It is understood that once the deal is completed Orrick will pay Coudert approximately $1.4m, plus reimburse the office’s lease and operating expenses for the last 12 months since the transfer was agreed.

The Beijing and Shanghai offices cost Coudert $1.8m in operating expenses last financial year until April 2006. Meanwhile the offices are understood to have generated revenues of $1.4m.