US firm Gibson Dunn & Crutcher has secured approval from China’s Ministry of Justice to open a representative office in Beijing, almost 10 years after the firm closed its China presence.
Gibson Dunn’s Beijing office, which is expected to be opened in the coming months, will be the firm’s third location in Asia, following its launch in Hong Kong in 2010 (2 August 2010) and Singapore in 2008 (20 May 2008).
In a statement, Gibson Dunn chairman and managing partner Ken Doran said: “Our plans to expand in Asia include opening an office in China and growing our Singapore and Hong Kong offices. We’ve received approval for an office in Beijing and plan to open it in the first quarter of 2013.”
It is understood that the size of the initial team in Beijing and the practice focus will depend on several factors, such as lateral hires on the ground, which are still in the process of being finalised.
Gibson Dunn’s intention to return to Beijing was first revealed when the firm expanded its Hong Kong office with two partner hires in November 2011 (3 November 2011). Hong Kong partner Joseph Barbeau told The Lawyer that his firm was filing an application for a Beijing representative office (21 Novermber 2011). Barbeau also indicated that the opening in Beijing will be the first step and Shanghai will be next, as they are equally inportant and offer different opportutnines.
It will be three years before Gibson Dunn can have two offices on the mainland, as Chinese regulations require foreign firms to have a representative office for at least that period before they are qualified to apply for a second licence.
Gibson Dunn had a presence in Hong Kong until 1997, when the firm decided to close the office to rethink its international strategy. According to public files of Ministry of Justice, the firm opened a Beijing office in 1998 but withdrew its presence around 2003.