Baker & McKenzie gains Chinese joint operation licence

Earlier this month Baker & McKenzie Asia Pacific head Bruce Hambrett told us that China would present his firm with “big opportunities” in the foreseeable future.

With the firm having just received the first Chinese joint operation licence to be granted by the Shanghai Bureau of Justice, it’s obvious what he meant.

Like all other international firms, Bakers has until now been precluded from offering PRC advice to its clients, with its China operations focusing on international law and turning to domestic Chinese outfits to fill in the local-law blanks.

Now, having tied up with local firm FenXun Partners, Bakers will be able to offer joint advice from a single entity, although both firms will remain structurally separate.

The deal is as much a milestone for China as it is for Bakers, signalling as it does that the country’s legal system is ready to handle a bit of international competition.

Bakers may not be a first mover when it comes to finding ways of offering joined-up advice in the vast Chinese market, but like Mallesons Stephen Jaques and Dentons before it, it has just broken a bit of new ground.

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