Clifford Chance waits on China green light

Clifford Chance waits on China green light” />Clifford Chance announced recently that it intends to team up with a Chinese law firm as soon as the Chinese government allows it.

The firm’s Asia managing partner Jim Baird says: “[China] is a high-priority strategic focus of many of Clifford Chance’s global and major regional clients. Accordingly, China remains a key focus for our firm.”

Clifford Chance poached rated China corporate partner Rupert Li from Morrison & Foerster recently, continuing a series of high-profile moves by the magic circle in Asia.

Li will relocate to Clifford Chance’s Beijing office, which is the first step in the firm’s ambitious plan to double its presence in mainland China.

While Clifford Chance waits patiently for the Chinese government to open up the legal market to foreigners, Eversheds has been granted a licence to practise in Shanghai by China’s Ministry of Justice. Former Linklaters associate Peter Corne will be the managing director of the office, which is Eversheds’ first in mainland China.

It seems that no firm can be close enough to the mainland action. Once it has been granted its practice licence, Shearman & Sterling is planning to downsize its Hong Kong office by transferring a large section of the team to a new Shanghai office.

Beijing managing partner Lee Edwards says: “We’re concentrating our efforts to staff our China work out of China.