MALLESONS STEPHEN JAQUES, one of the nation’s biggest law firms, has merged its Hong Kong practice with Kwok & Yih, thus expanding its presence in China and moving the firm from a top-30 position in the world by size to a top-10 position.
It’s a “merger of equals”, according to the managing partner of Kwok & Yih, Larry Kwok. “It enables Kwok & Yih to expand the range of services it provides to its major clients in both Hong Kong and China,” he said.
For Mallesons, the increased capability will allow it to become a “real and well credentialed alternative to the UK Magic Circle firms and US firms operating in Hong Kong and China”, said chief executive partner Tony D’Aloisio.
Mallesons’ Hong Kong and China operation will equal the size of its Perth office — the firm’s third largest behind Sydney and Melbourne — when the merger takes effect from October this year. D’Aloisio has high expectations for its growth, and told Lawyers Weekly that in five years time Hong Kong and China would rival the size of the firm’s major offices in Australia.
The merger builds on Mallesons’ base in Hong Kong and accelerates its commitment to China, the firm said in a statement.
Mallesons’ eight Hong Kong partners will welcome the additional seven from Kwok &Yih, and together the merged firms will comprise 46 fee earners. Mallesons’ 34 support staff will be joined by 25 from Kwok & Yih.
Robert Milliner, Mallesons’ Hong Kong office managing partner prior to the merger, said the marriage gives the firm the right platform as client demand grows. “We’ve almost trebled the number of Mandarin speaking lawyers,” he said.
“We have listened to our clients,” said D’Aloisio. “They have liked what we offer in Hong Kong and China but they have wanted a broader range of services, more local knowledge and language skills and a presence in Shanghai and a bigger presence in Beijing.”