Stephenson Harwood returns to Guangzhou

When UK firm Stephenson Harwood announced in September that it was reducing its China presence the move seemed counterintuitive.

Even though CEO Sharon White said the move was prompted by the fact “the legal landscape in China has changed considerably”, it did not appear entirely logical to be retracting at a time when other firms are still plotting their entry to the super-state.

Now the firm’s reasoning has become clear: it wants to give its clients access to PRC law in the city, something it is not allowed to do under the Chinese regulatory regime.

The firm has just signed a strategic alliance with local firm Wei Tu, which was established by former Stephenson Harwood shipping lawyer Xianming Lu when he quit the firm in September.

According to Stephenson Harwood Greater China managing partner Voon Keat Lai, the arrangement will allow the firm to “provide our clients with a consistent approach”.

Rather than going against the tide in China, Stephenson Harwood actually appears to be testing new waters.

There’s method in its madness after all.

Also on TheLawyer.com:

  • King & Wood Mallesons names two partners to succeed global managing partner Stuart Fuller as head of its Hong Kong practice after he decided to give up one part of his dual role
  • The former head of Linklaters’ global corporate practice Jeremy Parr is to take on GC role at Jardine Matheson
  • And, Chinese red circle firm Zhong Lun signs up to employment alliance L&E Global, marking the network’s first step into the Asian markets
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