McDermott Will & Emery secures Baker McKenzie China practice lead in London as it eyes China-Europe deals work

Peter Lu joins for new role of global China practice head alongside four-strong Bakers team

Peter Lu Image courtesy of Baker McKenzie

McDermott Will & Emery has hired partner Peter Lu from Baker McKenzie for the new role of global head of its China practice, as the top 25 US firm moves to grow its share of outbound Chinese investment work in Europe.

Lu, who led Bakers’ China practice in the UK, has moved over in London alongside counsel Tina Hartwright, associate Ennio Keyte, corporate transactions specialist Alonso de Reyes Lanfranco and paralegal Ziye Ke. 

Lu has more than 14 years of experience advising clients on cross-border M&A and litigation and has worked with Chinese multinationals including Bank of China, China Telecom and ICBC. 

His hire will enhance McDermott’s credibility in the China-Europe deals market, said Harris Siskind, global head of the Chicago-based firm’s transactions group. 

“China is currently the EU’s largest trading partner, and outbound investment from Chinese investors into the EU remains robust despite recent legislation on foreign direct investments in Europe,” Siskind added.

Alongside cross-border M&A, Lu’s practice covers joint ventures, directors' duties, governance matters, complex restructurings, disputes and crisis management. 

Steve Scholes, head of McDermott’s global litigation and dispute resolution group, said Lu’s experience in supervising large-scale complex international litigation cases on behalf of Chinese clients would strengthen the firm’s cross-border litigation offering. 

Lu has joined McDermott after four years as a partner at Bakers, prior to which he was a counsel at White & Case and an associate at Herbert Smith Freehills and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer. 

“I am thrilled to join McDermott and be part of such an entrepreneurial venture,” Lu said. “The firm is achieving ambitious growth globally and provides a great platform to serve my clients.”

Lu’s hire follows McDermott losing its on-the-ground presence in China in 2020, when it transferred its Shanghai joint venture to Chicago-rival Winston & Strawn. The move handed Winston a 47-lawyer team and saw McDermott, which had closed its Seoul office the previous year, lose its last physical base in Asia. 

The firm regained an on-the-ground presence in the region in 2021, when it opened an office in Singapore staffed with hires from rivals including Squire Patton Boggs and King & Spalding. 

Meantime, Lu is the eighth partner to join McDermott’s London office since the start of 2021, including cross-border M&A specialist Garrett Hayes and investigations and financial crime expert Simon Airey, both of whom defected from Paul Hastings. The firm now has 85 lawyers in London, including around 30 partners.

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