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City firm Rowe & Maw is set to open in Hong Kong next year.
The firm is talking exclusively to an unnamed Chinese law firm.
A Rowe & Maw source says the firm is finalising plans for the tie-up.
He says: "We are in discussions about opening up in Hong Kong. We have been in talks for six months and plan to announce something in the new year."
The source says the main drive for the base is to capitalise on construction and projects work in the region.
Rowe & Maw is pitching for government contracts in China and already has seconded staff to work at the Hong Kong firm.
The source says that the new office will be set up in joint venture with the local firm as required under Hong Kong regulations.
Initially, the firm will station a partner and a further two or three fee earners in the city.
Rivals still view the market with caution. Kevin Dean, partner at Sinclair Roche & Temperley, which has a Hong Kong office, says: "The market is beginning to pick up in certain parts of the Far East, like Singapore, and we are seeing increased business in Shanghai and Korea.
"But I don't believe you could make money in the Far East without substantial investment in people and in money terms."