Seyfarth Shaw hires DLA Piper partner for Shanghai launch

US firm Seyfarth Shaw is set to open in Shanghai in May, marking its second overseas launch following London.

The US firm, best known for its labour and employment law practice, has already obtained the licence for the new office and has hired DLA Piper Shanghai corporate partner Wan Li as a partner and its chief representative in Shanghai. The Shanghai base, located in the Jing An Kerry Centre, will officially open in May.

The expansion into China is being led by international chair Darren Gardner, who is an international employment law partner based in San Francisco. According to Gardner, the Shanghai office will focus on two main areas – employment law and energy and resources – and will have two partners at the time of launch.

“Our London office has been a success since it was launched 18 months ago, so the firm is encouraged to further expand its international practice,” he said. “China is where our existing multinational corporate clients need the most advice and services on labour law. Therefore, it’s a natural choice for the new office.”

Gardner and his partners have already been travelling to China frequently for US clients’ multi-jurisdictional employment law projects. Before joining Seyfarth in 2007, Gardner was a partner at Australian firm Minter Ellison. He moved to San Francisco to set up an office for Minter Ellison in 2003.

Newly recruited Shanghai partner Wan also used to practise at Minter Ellison, where he spent 20 years and was made up in Hong Kong in 2005 and later became the firm’s Shanghai managing partner. He left the Australian firm in 2010 to join DLA Piper’s Shanghai office. Wan’s corporate and transaction practice has a focus on the infrastructure, natural resources and energy sector.

Seyfarth Shaw is yet to name the second partner to be based in Shanghai. The firm opened its first overseas office in London in 2011 after hiring Norton Rose employment chief Peter Talibart (8 December 2010). It now has two partners and three associates in London.