Late last year, Mallesons Stephen Jaques, one of Australia’s “Big Six” law firms, announced a merger with King and Wood, one of China’s largest law firms. It was the first major combination of a top-tier Western law firm with a Chinese counterpart, and the agreement seemed to portend a wave of Sino-Western mergers. “Others are really looking to see what we do and will be following,” said Martyn Huckerby, a partner at Mallesons.
But while both Western and Chinese firms have good cause to seek mergers, their reasons differ, and finding a suitable match can be tricky. Western law offices want to expand their presence in China and co-opt the best local partners before their competitors can. Big Chinese law firms, meanwhile, seek to offer their clients better service abroad and one day join the global big leagues.
“It’s less a question of if [a wave of mergers will come]…
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