Patrick Sherrington, its regional managing partner for Asia Pacific, told Bloomberg that a tie-up with a Chinese partner would be the ‘Holy Grail’ for the US-headquartered firm and it is actively seeking the right match. Restrictions on foreign law firms in mainland China and on Chinese lawyers who work for them has led Mr Sherrington to consider the Shanghai Free Trade Zone, where some restrictions have already been loosened.
Currently, only 7 per cent of Hogan Lovells’ revenue comes from Asia and the Middle East, which Mr Sherrington explained represents untapped potential given China’s $11 trillion economy. ‘We recognise we have to be strong in markets of the future,’ he added.
Legal Week notes that Dechert, Linklaters and other firms have the same interest in forming an association with a Chinese firm. Mr Sherrington said it would enable Hogan Lovells to better vet Chinese attorneys with whom it works: ‘You do not want to rely on a total stranger — so having an association where you can develop lawyers, including Chinese lawyers, is potentially attractive.’