Morgan Lewis builds CNPC ties with hire of Dewey’s Beijing head

Morgan Lewis & Bockius has appointed the Beijing managing partner of collapsed firm Dewey & LeBoeuf to ramp up its two-partner Beijing office.

Ingrid Zhu-Clark will co-manage Morgan Lewis’ Beijing office with current managing partner Lucas Chang.

She is the only Dewey Beijing partner who has signed up with a new firm so far. It is understood that the rest of the partners – Dirk Walker, Yuan Guang and Lan Tao – are still in negotiations with other firms.

All four of the partners focus on energy and resources and are experienced in advising Chinese oil and gas companies on overseas investment and acquisitions. Zhu-Clark was the key relationship partner for a number of Dewey’s Chinese clients, such as China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC).

Dual-qualified in the US and China, Zhu-Clark has been involved in many of CNPC’s overseas transactions, such as CNPC International’s $4.2bn acquisition of PetroKazakhstan in 2005, CNPC’s joint acquisition of PetroCanada with India’s Oil and Natural Gas Corporation in 2005, and the company’s $400m acquisition of Canada’s Verenex Energy in 2009.

Apart from Beijing, Morgan Lewis has picked up a considerable number of Dewey partners in London, Russia, Almaty, Houston and New York (4 May 2012). Among them are other energy and resources partners, including Russia-based Brian Zimbler and London-based Olivier Chambord, who are both also CNPC relationship partners.

Peter Sharp, the former managing partner of Dewey’s London office, who has come under fire for leaving the firm before homes could be found for its junior lawyers (28 May 2012), also joined the firm.

“Ingrid’s a powerful leader in China’s legal industry and has extensive experience advising Chinese companies’ cross-border transactions in jurisdictions across Central Asia, Africa and the Americas. She fits well with our global energy practice and links well with our London, Almaty and Russia offices,” said Charles Lubar, managing partner of Morgan Lewis’ London office.

“We’ve had a Beijing office for quite a few years. We now finally have the right team to build up our China and Asia practices,” Lubar added.

Morgan Lewis opened its Beijing office in 2006. It is the second office of the firm in Asia after Tokyo, which opened in 1988. The firm opened its Singapore and Jakarta offices in 1996 but closed the two offices at the end of 2000.

The Beijing move comes a week after Dewey’s Hong Kong team joined DLA Piper (17 May 2012).