Morgan Lewis launches office in Shenzhen

China IP team lead Shaobin Zhu to head fourth China office focused on tech and life sciences clients

Shaobin Zhu Image courtesy of Morgan Lewis & Bockius

Top 10 US firm Morgan Lewis & Bockius is set to expand in China with the launch of an office in the booming southern city of Shenzhen. 

The new office will be led by China IP team lead Shaobin Zhu and is intended to connect tech and life sciences companies in the region to Morgan Lewis’ global network of offices, including existing bases in China in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong. 

Morgan Lewis chair Jami McKeon said: “Shenzhen is a major hub of China’s technology industry with the highest density of start-ups of all the mainland cities in China, and it is a staging ground for large high-tech companies from all over the world.

“Our lawyers are already working with dozens of clients operating in and connected to this market, and this demonstrates our commitment to serving our clients in the technology and life sciences sectors, including biotechnology. Our team on the ground will collaborate closely across our offices in Asia and with our global technology and life sciences industry teams to bring our cross-practice, cross-jurisdictional capabilities for inbound and outbound matters to the forefront for our clients.”

For his part, US-qualified Zhu joined the firm in Shanghai in 2017 from San Francisco boutique Finnegan Henderson Farabow Garrett & Dunner to serve Chinese clients with an interest in the US as well as US and non-Chinese clients seeking to acquire and protect IP rights in China. 

Zhu will be based in Shenzhen full time and will initially be joined by an associate, with the firm looking to expand the office in line with client need. Morgan Lewis currently has almost 90 lawyers in China, including an IP team that along with Zhu houses Shanghai-based partner Todd Liao and seven associates. 

The firm said the new office would expand its IP reach in China, with the team litigating the full range of IP cases, including patent and trade secrets disputes, as well as drafting and negotiating licence agreements and commercial contracts and leading transactions and due diligence. 

News of Morgan Lewis’ launch in Shenzhen follows HFW announcing last week that it was opening a representative office in Shenzhen, which is one of the nine megacities in the Pearl River Delta that together with Hong Kong and Macau make up China’s Greater Bay Area. 

HFW said the move made it the first UK-based international law firm to be given permission to open a representative office in the GBA, which has the highest concentration of Fortune 500 companies in China and is home to many of the country’s leading tech and innovation businesses, including the likes of Tencent, ZTE and Huawei. The region’s economy has grown rapidly in recent years, with GDP rising by a quarter between 2019 and 2022 to reach $1.89trn.

Zhu said Morgan Lewis’ launch in Shenzhen “demonstrates that we are committed to serving all of our clients’ needs, including those clients that we already work alongside with interests in the region.”

“We are committed to the wider business community as they look to grow their businesses globally and require a broader set of legal services,” he added. 

Morgan Lewis has also recently expanded in Europe, adding almost all of Shearman & Sterling’s Germany team in March to launch in Munich

And in May the firm secured a 10-strong US finance litigation and regulatory team from Stroock & Stroock & Lavan led by partner trio Arjun Rao, Brian Frontino and Allen Denson. 

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