NBA China general counsel joins KWM

King & Wood Mallesons has hired the former general counsel of China’s national basketball league.

Lawyer Steven Toronto joins the firm in Beijing from NBA China, where he has been in charge of the league’s China operations since 2009.

Before moving in-house Toronto was managing partner of Morrison & Foerster’s Beijing office for nine years.

It was whilst at MoFo that Toronto made his first contact with KWM through his work on the Beijing Olympic Games. MoFo beat off stiff competition from Clifford Chance and Coudert Brothers to be appointed as international counsel for the organiser of the Beijing Olympic Games in 2002 (21 October 2002).

The client win came after a rigorous selection process lasting more than six months.

Toronto led the relationship with the Beijing Organizing Committee alongside then partner Kelly C. Crabb. King & Wood, meanwhile, won the key appointment as Chinese counsel to the Beijing Organising Committee. It is understood that this is where the relationship originated.

Corporate lawyer Toronto is one of the growing group of senior foreign lawyers working in the Chinese partnership of KWM. Prior to his appointment, the firm hired former Dewey & LeBoeuf Beijing energy partner Dirk Walker as a partner last year (7 June 2012).

Last week, KWM partners officially backed plans to merger with SJ Berwin. The deal will go ahead on 1 November 2013 (31 July 2013).