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Fenwick Sets Course for ChinaFenwick & West has hired Covington & Burling's Eva Wang as a corporate partner to lay the groundwork for an office in Shanghai -- the Silicon Valley firm's first overseas. Fenwick has felt a great pull to China in recent years as its clients' activity has compelled the creation of new resources to serve them, said firm chair Gordon Davidson.
2013-05-16 02:27:47 PM
Fenwick & West has hired a corporate partner to lay the groundwork for an office in China -- the firm's first overseas.
With the help of Eva Wang from Covington & Burling, Fenwick will soon apply for a license to practice law in China through an office in Shanghai. The outpost will open shortly after approval is granted, a process that Fenwick Chair Gordon Davidson said he expects to take six months to a year. Fenwick will also be advised by veteran China expert Carmen Chang, who resigned from Covington earlier this year to devote more time to the venture capital firm New Enterprise Associates, where she is managing director for Asia.
Fenwick has felt a great pull to China in recent years, Davidson said, citing the wave of companies started by Chinese-American entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley, the volume of American companies launching joint ventures in China, and Chinese investors' interest in American companies, among other factors. Since Wang joined Fenwick at the start of the month, the firm has received six requests from clients for help on projects with China, said Richard Dickson, Fenwick's chairman-elect.
"Our clients' activity has compelled us to create new resources to serve them," Davidson said.
The firm will find seasoned help in Wang and Chang. Chang opened Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati's first office in China in 2005. Last year, she and Wang left Wilson to help Covington build out its corporate practice in China. Wang said those experiences taught her how to navigate the challenges of finding office space and building a team of lawyers overseas.
"I've had experience being one of the few partners on the ground in China," she said.
Fenwick set its sights on China a decade ago, Dickson said. The firm took its first step toward building an office a year and a half ago by hiring China practice counsel Wei Qun E, who represents Chinese companies doing business in the United States.
With Wang on board, Fenwick will launch an office that centers on representing Chinese companies making acquisitions in the United States, establishing joint ventures between the United States and China and helping Chinese companies raise capital in the American public markets, among other work, Davidson said. The firm also expects opportunities in intellectual property and litigation to follow, he added.
Wang advises Asian technology companies on U.S. corporate and securities law and also counsels American companies doing business in China. She said she expects the clients she shares with Chang to come to Fenwick, but there are no plans for other lawyers to follow from Covington at present.
"We wish her all the best," said James Snipes, a San Francisco-based partner who sits on Covington's management committee.
Fenwick has yet to search for office space in Shanghai, and the firm has not projected how many lawyers it will open with, Davidson said.
"We'll start small and grow as needed to meet client requests," he said.
With Cooley, Wilson and Gunderson Dettmer Stough Villeneuve Franklin & Hachigian already abroad, Fenwick is the last of the Silicon Valley stalwarts to plant a flag overseas. Dickson said the Shanghai office does not signal a wave of expansionism for the firm.
"I don't think in the near term we would attempt to do any other overseas establishments," Dickson said. "This is an important step for us."