Australia’s Mallesons moots tie-up with China’s King & Wood

Australian firm Mallesons Stephen Jaques has entered into tie-up talks with one of China’s largest commercial law firms, King & Wood.

Robert Milliner
Robert Milliner

Mallesons is in talks to form an alliance, which may take the form of a Swiss Verein, with the elite Beijing firm.

Mallesons chief executive partner Robert Milliner said that the firm is also speaking with a host of firms across Asia, Europe and the US, in line with its international vision.

“Our current position is that we’ve stated that part of our strategy is to drive the internationalisation and regionalisation of our practice consistent with the direction of the firm over the last few years,” said Milliner.

“In relation to that vision, we’ve been talking to a number of firms in different markets, particularly in Asia but also in the UK, Europe and US. We’ve spoken to King & Wood as one of a number of Asian firms, however we continue to review the best option for the long-term future success of our firm.”

In 2008 Mallesons reached advanced stage merger talks with Clifford Chance, before the financial crash made any deal unworkable (8 December 2008).

If Mallesons and King & Wood strike a deal, it will not be the first Sino-Australian law firm alliance. Australia’s Freehills entered into a non-exclusive deal with TransAsia in 2009 (16 September 2009) and King & Wood itself already has an alliance with Australia’s Gilbert & Tobin, with whom it forged a relationship in 2007 (8 November 2007).

According to the firm’s website, King & Wood has more than 950 lawyers, patent attorneys and legal professionals. In 2010 the firm poached Clifford Chance partner Rupert Li, to become its international managing partner (7 May 2010).