Perkins Coie expands in China with Beijing office

Seattle firm Perkins Coie is ramping up its China capability by adding a Beijing office.

The technology law firm, which already has an office in Hong Kong, has been granted a licence a year after its application.

Last year Perkins Coie took on a team of corporate partners from Baker & McKenzie in Beijing, including the firm’s chief representative there Jon Eichelberger.

Eichelberger is now relocating to head the firm’s new Beijing office, which he says was part of the plan when his team of 12, which includes four partners, joined.

He says: “Perkins Coie thought more than a year ago that they’d like to expand in Hong Kong and China, and there was a group of us that joined who had always been working in China.

“With the WTO [World Trade Organisation] and the enormous potential of the Chinese economy, particularly in the high-tech, internet and telecommunications sectors, this is a great chance to better represent our clients.”

He declines to name clients of the Chinese practice, which now boasts nearly 20 lawyers, but some of the firm’s major clients include Boeing, Yahoo and Amazon.

The Beijing office will start off with three lawyers, but more are expected to transfer from Hong Kong before the end of the year, and there will be lateral hires too.

Eichelberger says the office will not focus exclusively on high-tech work. He says: “We have a very broad-based practice here in terms of industry sectors – there’s manufacturing, telecommunications and technology companies.

“Because of the nature of the Chinese economy, most law firms aren’t going to be focusing on particular industry sectors because it’s just not that realistic to focus exclusively on one area. The firms with strong foreign direct investment practices tend to work across the board.”

The firm is one of only a handful of West Coast US firms in China, its main competitors comprising Morrison & Foerster and O’Melveny & Myers.

Perkins Coie has around 550 lawyers worldwide, with 12 offices in the US and now three in Asia, the third being in Taipei in Taiwan.