Kirkland launches in Beijing after gaining licence approval

Kirkland & Ellis has formally launched its Beijing office, just under six months after first seeking a licence to launch in the Chinese capital.

The firm opened its doors in Beijing yesterday (16 September) and has chosen Shanghai chief representative partner Li Chuan and Hong Kong-based corporate partner David Zhang to spearhead the new operation. Both will split their time between Beijing and their existing offices.

The Lawyer reported in April that the US firm had applied for a licence to open in Beijing (30 April 2013). Kirkland has been present in mainland China for four years, having launched in Shanghai in 2009 (1 September 2009).

Li and Zhang will be joined in Beijing by IP partner Chang Ya-Chiao, who moved to Kirkland’s Shanghai office from Jones Day two years ago. In total, around eight to 10 lawyers and staff will be based in Beijing initially.

The firm added in a statement: “We have no immediate plans to hire. We consider our office appropriately staffed but will assess our needs on an ongoing basis. We expect the Beijing office to grow over time with continuing growth in Chinese deal activity and client demand.”

Asia continues to be a fluid market for Western law firms. Earlier this year Clyde & Co (7 May 2013), Eversheds (17 May 2013) and Stephenson Harwood (1 May 2013) all launched in Beijing, while Field Fisher Waterhouse sealed an office in Shanghai through a local tie-up (8 July 2013).

However other firms have cut back on their presence in China. Jones Day is planning an adjustment of resources in Beijing (31 May 2013) and Vinson & Elkins recently announced the closure of its Shanghai office (12 July 2013).