US firms boost China presence

April 12, 2012 International law firms have significantly increased their presence in China over the past year, with the top 250 US firms bumping their headcount in China by 10 per cent in 2011, to 2,249 lawyers.

Among US firms, Baker & McKenzie has the largest headcount in China, with 269 lawyers, followed by Mayer Brown with 203, DLA Piper with 140, Hogan Lovells with 111 and Reed Smith with 109.

Firms are clearly betting on the Chinese legal market, but according to Altman Weil consultant Ward Bower the market has yet to produce big profits: "I don't know of anyone making money there yet," Bower said. "The experience in a lot of these foreign offices of US firms is that it takes a lot of time and investment to make money. That's true even in London."

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