MALLESONS STEPHEN Jaques is on its way to cementing its position in Shanghai, widely regarded as the epicentre of the Chinese economy. The firm has now been given the go-ahead from the Ministry of Justice in Beijing to operate in Shanghai under the Mallesons brand.
Though Mallesons has been operating in Shanghai since 2004 — through an office it acquired as part of its merger with Chinese firm Kwok & Yih — it has only just received a license allowing it to operate under its own name.
Larry Kwok, Mallesons managing partner in China, told Lawyers Weekly that having a strong presence is Shanghai is essential for the firm’s China strategy.
“We are really just responding to our clients’ needs. Increasingly a lot of our clients are doing business in Shanghai — Shanghai being the commercial centre in China — and they would like to see us on the ground with them. Given Shanghai’s role in China’s growing economy I think that international businesses can’t afford not to be there,” he said.
Kwok also explained that being able to operate the office under the Mallesons brand was important in terms of building the firm’s reputation in the region. “The Mallesons brand name is well-known. [The decision] has extended the awareness not only of our firm name, but also our capabilities,” he said.
The office currently comprises 10 staff, five of them lawyers, as well as several other lawyers who share their time between the Hong Kong and Shanghai offices. According to Kwok, however, the office is actively looking to expand. “We’re stepping up our efforts to transfer additional Mandarin speakers to the office — not only from our Hong Kong and Beijing offices but also from Australia,” he said.
Kwok explained that the Shanghai office is involved in both assisting international companies to do business within China, as well as advising China-based clients with respect to investments outside of China. Their expertise includes mergers and acquisitions, the formation of joint ventures, IPOs, private equity investment, and advising on general day-to-day regulatory issues.