A major Chinese law firm has announced plans to set up its western Europe headquarters in London.
Yingke, which employs the second highest number of lawyers by headcount in China, believes a new base in the capital will help it continue to grow, after it created offices in Verona in Italy and Budapest in Hungary.
Zhonglun W&D is currently the only Chinese law firm with a base in London, but Yingke has tasked international practice partner Catherine Guo with managing the launch of the new offices. The Law Society of England and Wales policy adviser Jack Yu will take up the position of London managing director for Yingke.
Guo said: “London’s a key location for us in Europe, it will serve as our headquarters for Western European business.
“From the London office we can also enter into cooperation and relationships with firms and clients in neighbouring countries such as France and Germany,” said Guo.
The Beijing-headquartered law firm has yet to announce many details of the practice focus and size of the office, but it will be a direct investment management solely by Yingke.
Many of the lawyers and partners will be relocated from the firm’s Chinese offices to London, offering experience in foreign investment and Chinese law.
Guo said: “We don’t aim to provide English legal advice. When we have an English law matter we’ll refer it to our relationship firms in the UK.”
Partners from London-based law firm Pinsent Masons, as well as Caldwell & Robinson and Wragge & Co, have visited Yingke’s offices in China over the last few months.
Yingke employs more than 1,500 lawyers, including 179 partners, making it China’s second largest law firm after Dacheng.
It first began expanding into Europe when it set up offices in Budapest as part of a joint venture with Várnai & Partners in September last year, called Yingke Várnai. The firm launched Yingke Várnai Luzi Crivellini & Associati in Italy in March this year in a joint venture with Italian company Advoco.
The opening of offices in London is part of Yingke’s plan to increase its global footprint. It aims to expand into Australia, Japan, the US, Hong Kong, the Middle East and Singapore in the next 12 months or so.