Ireland’s A&L Goodbody forges links with dozen Chinese firms

Irish firm A&L Goodbody is seeking to gain a foothold in the Chinese legal market by inking agreements with 12 Chinese law firms to facilitate Sino-Ireland cross-border transactions.

Julian Yarr
Julian Yarr

The agreements, which were signed yesterday in Beijing in the presence of Irish prime minister Enda Kenny, will see lawyers from the Chinese firms take part in A&L Goodbody’s Chinese lawyers placement programme.

A&L Goodbody started offering Chinese lawyers six-month placements under the programme in September 2011. Currently, seven Chinese lawyers are working in A&L Goodbody’s Dublin office.

The 12 participating Chinese firms include King & Wood Mallesons, Jun He, Zhong Lun, Dacheng, Yingke and Fangda. Some of them have already established a presence in Europe and outbound investment strategies.

The Chinese lawyers participating in the programme gain an insight into the Irish legal market as well as many of the common law concepts underpinning most international transactions.

A&L Goodbody managing partner Julian Yarr said: “We believe, and are already seeing, how this programme will develop stronger cultural ties and understanding of Ireland and China, and inevitably forge stronger trade links between our respective countries.”

Zhong Lun’s London partner Xue Haibin noted that many long-term relationships can grow out of these exchange and placement programmes, and consequently they can help build meaningful cross-referral networks between the foreign and Chinese firms.

The programme has expanded since its first year to include Chinese law students and in-house practitioners as well as private practice lawyers. In addition to the 12 law firms, A&L Goodbody will also offer summer internships to law students from Peking University and East China University of Political Science and Law, and placements for in-house lawyers from China Eastern Airlines.

The programme is a key part of A&L Goodbody’s international strategy, which has seen the firm expand its New York office and open a new base in Palo Alto, California, in addition to its offices in Dublin, Belfast and London.

All costs of the programme, which are estimated to run to several million euros, are being borne by A&L Goodbody.

Spanish firm Uría Menéndez is another European firm offering a training and placement programme to Chinese lawyers. Up to ten Chinese lawyers will be selected to participate in this year’s programme, which is in its fourth year running.

The Chinese lawyers will commence a six-month training at Uría Menéndez’s head office in Madrid in September, focusing on international business law and firm management. Following the training course, the participants will be seconded to Uría Menéndez’s Brussels office and then a placement in Europe or Latin America to work with the firm or one of its best friends in real cross-border cases. All travel, living and other expenses are covered by the firm.