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Kirkland & Ellis will open a new office in Shanghai in November, focusing its services at first on the firm’s private equity clients. The firm will launch the new office with partners XY Li and Chuan Li and plans to transfer two to four associates there once new office space is completed, said David Eich, who heads Kirkland’s office in Hong Kong. The Shanghai office will be located in the new international financial center, now under construction, in the Pudong area of the city, he said. Although Kirkland is far from the first U.S. firm to open a China office, Eich said the firm is coming at exactly the right time for its private equity clients. “There’s been a titanic evolution in the private equity market in China over the last five to seven years,” he said. “We see a real opportunity to being on the ground and close to our clients who are already doing deals in China.” Kirkland has been hiring lawyers in China and Hong Kong since 2001. The firm opened its first Asian office in Hong Kong in 2006. Shanghai will be its tenth office worldwide. The Chinese government granted approval for the office in July after Kirkland applied in January. Jay Lefkowitz, a Kirkland partner in New York and a member of the firm’s management committee, said the firm has about two dozen private equity clients in Asia. Just recently, the firm finished working on Bain Capital’s investment in the Chinese company Gome Electrical Appliances Holding Ltd., he said. The partners who will open the Shanghai office, XY Li and Chuan Li, are both natives of China. XY Li is currently based in Hong Kong and came to Kirkland last year from the major Chinese law firm Jun He. Prior to joining Jun He, Li had been head of the corporate practice at King & Wood, the largest law firm in China, according to Kirkland’s Web site. Chuan Li joined Kirkland in 2001 in Chicago, the site said. He currently works in the Chicago and Hong Kong offices. “China’s a complex place to do deals, and in order to be effective you really need people who know their way around and have experience in China,” Eich said. The firm doesn’t have any specific plans for expanding the office other than adding lawyers to meet client demand, he added.

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