Weil closes Beijing base, ‘in discussions’ to shutter in Shanghai

Move sees Weil become latest international law firm to retreat from mainland Chinese market

Weil Gotshal & Manges has shuttered its Beijing office and is mulling closing its base in Shanghai, in a move that makes its the latest international law firm to step away from the mainland Chinese market.  

The 1,100-lawyer firm closed its Beijing office on 31 December according to Reuters and is “engaged in discussions on the office in Shanghai with a view to consolidating its Asia operations” through its Hong Kong office.

“We will be working out the details in the coming months, but we remain dedicated to our award-winning Asia practice and to providing top service to our clients in the region,” a Weil spokesperson said.

The firm did not say how many lawyers it had in Beijing and if they had been laid off. Weil currently has six lawyers in Shanghai according to its website, including a partner and a counsel who are also part of the firm’s Hong Kong office.

Should it close in Shanghai, Hong Kong will be Weil’s sole office outside of the US and Europe. The firm has six partners there according to its website, amid a wider team of more than 20 lawyers and staff.  

A number of international law firms have closed bases in mainland China in recent months as an economic slowdown, political tensions and regulatory uncertainty cloud their business outlooks.

Just last week Orrick confirmed it was shuttering its Shanghai office and had already terminated its lease in Taipei as part of a “rebalancing” of its Asia-Pacific platform that will leave it with bases in the region in Beijing, Tokyo and Singapore.  

Perkins Coie also announced earlier this month that it was closing its Shanghai office and since June last year both Proskauer Rose and Akin Gump have confirmed the closure of their Beijing bases, while Latham shuttered in Shanghai.  

Meantime last August, Dentons cut its ties with its China arm citing Chinese cybersecurity and data protection laws, a month after Eversheds Sutherland’s international arm and King & Wood Mallesons’ China business unveiled an exclusive cooperation agreement

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