Linklaters said it has Chinese regulatory approval to launch an independent ‘best friends’ firm able to practice under Chinese law. The firm in question is understood to be a PRC law firm spun off from the magic circle giant. It is understood three partners and 16 lawyers are leaving Linklaters’ China offices to set up the new independent firm. While international law firms are only allowed to open representative offices in the country, under the Shanghai scheme, launched in 2013, foreign firms can offer Chinese law advice via an association with a local firm or by setting up an independent practice.
Chris Holt, chief operating officer of Linklaters China, said: ‘We continue to pursue our aspiration to provide clients with access to a dedicated PRC law capability in China. Taking account of recent developments in the market, we have begun detailed discussions with an existing PRC law firm to enter into a Best Friends relationship with a view at some point in the future to enter into a Shanghai Free Trade Zone joint operation…Once the detailed discussions have concluded we will officially launch the Best Friends relationship. We hope to do this in the next two to three months.’
Mr Holt added: ‘Linklaters occupies a market-leading position in China and we expect to see stable and sustainable growth in China over the long term. Market shifts have indicated that outbound work and high-end domestic transactions will become ever more important for our business. We believe that being able to offer integrated Chinese and international law advice will help us to protect our competitive advantage both in China and globally.’