In October, China’s JunHe announced that its longtime leader Xiao Wei will step down after co-founding and managing one of the country’s premier law firms for nearly 32 years. In January, Xiao will pass the baton to transactions partner Warren Hua. By then, JunHe will join several of its peer firms in completing the crucial transfer of leadership for the first time.

Last year marked the 40th anniversary of China’s resumption of the profession of legal counsel in 1979 following 30 years of political unrest and disruptions after the People’s Republic’s founding. Law firms were initially government-run, and the private practice industry didn’t emerge until the late 1980s. To this day, many of China’s best-known and most-prominent law firms are still run by their founders and first-generation leaders.

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