The Firms

June 2, 2010 3:23 PM

Leading Chinese Firm Opens Silicon Valley Office

Posted by Brian Baxter

Following the lead of China's largest law firm, the Beijing-based Jun He Law Offices has opened an office in Silicon Valley.

As first reported by Asia Legal Business last month, Jun He has hired three lawyers from U.S. firms for the new West Coast outpost: IP partners James Zhu and Zhaohui "Zoe" Wang, previously the managing partners of Perkins Coie's Beijing and Shanghai offices, and Steven Cui, a former IP of counsel in Jones Day's Beijing office. The firm has nearly 400 lawyers; about 90 are partners.

"[The move] will help us represent U.S. clients doing business in China, as even today, U.S. firms are limited in their ability to do business in China because of local restrictions against foreign attorneys," Zhu told The Am Law Daily. "So joining a Chinese firm will help us remove those restrictions."

James Zhu Zhu (pictured right) says that most of his clients, as well as Wang's are U.S. companies looking for an entry into China. Zhu hopes the reverse will apply, too--Chinese clients looking to Jun He for U.S. legal needs in connection to business interests and activity here.

Jun He frequently works with larger U.S. firms, Zhu says. He hopes to continue working with firms that have a broader platform--such as Perkins Coie--in servicing cross-border client needs.

Zhu joined Perkins Coie's Los Angeles office in 2002 and became a partner in 2007. He was named managing partner of the firm's Beijing operations in early 2008. Zhu is a leading Chinese American lawyer in the life sciences and medical device industries while his former colleague at the firm, Wang, focuses on data processing and nanotechnologies. (Wang will be resident in the firm's Shanghai office but will occasionally work out of the Silicon Valley location.)

Cui previously spent seven years in-house at San Francisco-based Genentech, where he became senior IP counsel at the biotech firm, which became a subsidiary of Swiss drugmaker Roche last year.

Depending on the client response to Jun He's new Silicon Valley operation--the firm opened a small New York office four years after it was founded in 1989--Zhu says its West Coast operations might grow. Zhu notes that both he and Wang were approached by another domestic Chinese firm about opening a Silicon Valley operation, but he declined to name the firm.

China's largest domestic law firm, King & Wood, opened in Silicon Valley at the tail end of the tech bubble in 2001, as reported in this 2005 story in The Recorder. The firm, which has grown quickly in recent years, then opened a New York office in September 2008, just before the onset of the global economic crisis.

Other leading Chinese firms like the Commerce & Finance Law Offices, Fangda Partners, Haiwen & Partners, and Lehman, Lee & Xu do not have U.S. offices.

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It will be very interesting to see the growth parameters and management style of Asian law firms as they transplant to the U.S. in the next few years, particularly as U.S.-based firms have to find ways to compete with more imaginative new players. American economic history is replete with stories about established organizations that failed to adapt and became footnotes instead of leaders; this should be viewed as an opportunity for far-sighted law firms to adapt and to grow.

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