It sounds like the plot for another bad Hollywood movie: Arnold Schwarzenegger on a mission to China, accompanied by, err, his lawyer.
Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe chair and chief executive Ralph Baxter went with Schwarzenegger on a trade mission. But the pay-off for Orrick came when Schwarzenegger used his political muscle to write a reference for Orrick in its attempts to get the China operating licence transferred from Coudert Brothers.
The debacle over transferring the Coudert licence continues to be a thorn in Orrick’s side, with the bitter feud with DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary ending up in the Chaoyang District People’s Court. The row flared after associate Yuanming Wang, who defected to DLA Piper, claimed Coudert effectively terminated her employment on 14 December by refusing her access to the firm’s computer and phone systems.
The two firms have been clashing over the pilfering of Coudert associates since both made raids last summer ahead of Coudert’s disintegration.
The rivalry between the firms spilt over into Italy, with DLA Piper raiding Orrick for a six-lawyer team in Milan. It shows no signs of simmering down and the Chinese court case could get nasty.