Eversheds secures long-awaited Beijing licence

Eversheds has secured a licence from the Chinese government to establish an office in Beijing.

The office, which is scheduled to open in December, will initially be headed by Eversheds’ Asia managing partner Nick Seddon, who is has been based in Hong Kong for the past eight years and will continue to split his time between there and Beijing. The firm is also in talks with senior lawyers at other firms to join in the coming months. Additionally, Eversheds is looking at relocating staff from its Hong Kong and Shanghai offices to Beijing.

Seddon, as Eversheds chief representative in China, collected the firm’s licence in person on Wednesday 12 September, though Eversheds had been informed of its successful application in the previous month.

The firm has not yet signed up for premises and will not commit to a lease until it has concluded talks with potential recruits.

The Lawyer reported in August that Eversheds was gearing up to launch its Beijing office, which will complement its existing offices in Hong Kong and Shanghai and has been in the pipeline since at least 2010 (13 August 2012).

The firm had previously said that it intended to be on the ground in Beijing by 2011 (13 September 2010).

“It took longer than anticipated to get the licence,” said Seddon, “but we don’t read into things like this, it’s just the way that the Chinese government works.”

The firm will target both in-and-outbound investment work in Beijing, in particular work relating to financial services firms and technology companies, leveraging off the city’s status as the seat of government and the home of so many state-owned enterprises.

According to Seddon, Eversheds is hoping to expand in mainland China to around 40 lawyers in the coming years. At present, the firm has 12 lawyers, including three partners – two of whom split their time between China and other offices – in Shanghai.