Dechert set for China growth after being granted Shanghai licence

Dechert is set for growth in China after the firm secured a licence to launch a Shanghai base, which will be the firm’s third location in Asia.

The US firm was granted the licence from the country’s Ministry of Justice (MoJ) last month and is currently in the process of hriing a team of lawyers for the base. Asia managing partner Tao Jingzhou, based in Beijing, is leading the expansion drive.

“The main focus of the Shanghai office will be advising foreign investment into China. It will also be an extension of Dechert’s core practice areas, such as white collar crime investigations, financial services and disputes resolution,” said Tao.

The firm is also aiming to grow its Beijing office, which was opened in 2008 and currently has about 20 staff including two partners and 10 associates. According to Tao, Dechert has plans to move into a larger premises later this year. Mallesons Stephen Jaques’ former Beijing office, which is in the same building as Dechert’s current Beijing office, is an option for the firm. The new office will have enough space for Dechert to be able to double the size of its team.

“Recruiting the right people remains to be a big challenge in China. The competition is high, but the market demand is relatively soft and candidates have different expectations,” said Tao. “Our goal is to have the [Shanghai] office up and running at the beginning of the next year.”

Dechert has recently taken on a five-partner team from the Dubai office of defunct firm Dewey & LeBoeuf Dubai (17 April 2012). The firm also hired a team from Chadbourne & Parke in Almaty in a bid to develop its global energy and resources practice (5 April 2012). Tao noted that China would also play an important part in this endeavour.

Even though the economic growth has slowed down in China, international firms’ interest in the country has not been dampened.

In recent months The Lawyer has revealed that Eversheds has obtained a new license for a second China office in Beijing (14 September 2012), Clyde & Co and Berwin Leighton Paisner have applied for a Beijing office licences (18 May 2012), while Ashurst and Kirklands & Ellis are also among a number of firms that are looking to launch into the country’s capital.