Herbert Smith Freehills is adding local law capabilities in China after Shanghai’s Bureau of Justice approved its “joint operation” with Kewei Law Firm.

The joint operation will be known as Herbert Smith Freehills Kewei. It integrates international and PRC legal advice, initially in cross-border M&A and corporate, banking and finance, disputes, competition, capital markets and financial services regulatory.

Justin D’Agostino

Justin D’Agostino

“Our 30-year China practice is strong with plenty of room to grow,” said Justin D’Agostino, Herbert Smith Freehills’ Asia executive partner. “This new licence will transform our business on the mainland and signals our long-term commitment to China.”

The firm joins five other international law firms in offering integrated China law advice through the joint operation model based in the Shanghai Free Trade Zone.

The first was Baker & McKenzie, which got the ball rolling back in 2015, followed in 2016 by Holman Fenwick Willan and Hogan Lovells, and Ashurst and Linklaters in 2018.

The two firms have been working together for some time and say that the tie-up is being well-received.

“We have already attracted instructions on billion-dollar matters from some of the largest companies operating in China,” said May Tai, Herbert Smith Freehills’ Greater China managing partner. “Adding Kewei to our highly rated mainland practice completes our offering in Greater China, and clients have responded very positively.”

Established in 1995, Kewei is led by founding partner Xu Wenbao, partner Stanley Xie and international partner Gavin Guo.

“Both firms would like to thank the Bureau of Justice in Shanghai for approving this partnership,” said Xie. “Given initial demand, our team is already expecting further growth in both our business and our legal talent.”

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