The changing legal landscape involving China has seen Eversheds Sutherland’s global branch absorbing former partners and staff from King & Wood Mallesons (KWM) London office, including five partners and 18 other personnel. The move includes most of the London KWM team.
Under an agreement made in July, KWM’s Chinese legal operations are to refer all their legal work in the UK, Europe, Middle East, Africa, and South America to Eversheds’ international branch.
In return, Eversheds will send China-focused work to KWM. The partnership also resulted in the closure of KWM’s six offices in the UK, Europe, and the Middle East, with select staff being invited to join Eversheds, based on practice requirements.
The five London partners involved in the move to Eversheds include three from the corporate team, namely Greg Stonefield, Joseph Newitt, and Barri Mendelsohn, and two commercial dispute resolution lawyers, James McKenzie and Wilson Antoon.
Lee Ranson, Eversheds’ chief executive highlighted the benefits already emerging from their cooperation agreement with KWM (China) and anticipated further successes with the new London team on board.
Eversheds’ Hong Kong office remains unaffected by this cooperation, along with its Beijing and Shanghai branches, as they do not provide Chinese legal advice.
The ‘China changes’ come in the wake of other international law firms reevaluating their China strategies. Linklaters announced headcount reductions in China due to an extended economic downturn, Latham & Watkins closed its Shanghai office in favor of consolidating in Beijing, and Dentons withdrew from mainland China, citing Chinese cybersecurity and data protection laws. Additionally, Morgan Lewis & Bockius and HFW have made moves to expand their presence in China in recent months.