As theAustralian legal profession tightens links with China, one firm is going straight to the source, opening a Beijing office this week.
Minter Ellison opened its Beijing office this week, the firm’s third in Greater China.
Australian firms have shown increasing interest in the region, and apart from increasing numbers of lawyers in Asian offices, have been undertaking exchanges with Chinese lawyers.
Earlier this year a three-monthexchange of lawyers from China to Australia was hailed as nurturing professional links between the two countries.
A group of 10 Chinese lawyers came to Australia as part of the 2010 Australia-China Legal Professional Development Program in June. Participants spent 12 weeks undertaking a placement program within large Australian law firms, corporations and government departments. The program was a joint initiative betweenthe Law Council, the Attorney- General’s International Legal Services Advisory Council, the All China Lawyers’ Association and the Chinese Ministry of Justice. It was funded by AusAID through its Australian Leadership Awards Fellowship Program.
But Minter Ellison’s move this week is a further bid to promote professional links and give the firm direct access toChinese clients. The firm said the move will tap in to China's strong appetite for investment into foreign markets.
"We areexcited to add Beijing to our platform in the region," said John Weber, Minter Ellison's chief executive partner.
"China's growth potential is immense. It has an enormous appetite for foreign assetsthat are key to its burgeoning economy and increasingly Chinese clients areturning to Hong Kong to access capital for business development on theMainland.
"Ourfirm is sitting at the cross roads of the action. With bases in Hong Kong,Shanghai and Beijing, and an unrivalled network of offices across Australia, aswell as in New Zealand and the UK, we are ideally placed to work with Chinese corporates and SOEs looking to invest overseas. Being in the Chinese capital will also give us easier access to central government authorities," Weber said.
Mark Green, internationalmanaging partner, said he sees the new Beijing officeas a natural extension of the firm's footprint in China.
"As China's administrative, policy and regulatory hub, Beijing is an importantcentre," he said.
"Having a Minter Ellison office here is both a strategic move and the next logical stepfor us in China.
"We have had offices in Hong Kong since the early 1980s and in Shanghai since 1999and Beijing now adds to that capability."
The firm said its key focus in Beijing is to work with clients on outbound M&A and inbound and outbound investment opportunities.
“Thiswill complement the work of our broader Greater China team and be supported bysenior partners in other offices who have a very strong track record of success with more than 35 Chinese outbound transactions completed in the past 18 months," Green said.