In January 2007, McDermott Will & Emery announced a groundbreaking deal that created an allied Chinese law firm, MWE China Law Offices, led by two prominent Shanghai lawyers. Later that year, Mayer Brown agreed to merge with Johnson Stokes & Master, Hong Kong’s largest law firm.

Both firms’ moves occasioned much hype and hoopla. But two years is a lifetime in the swiftly changing world of China practice. How are these firms doing today? In Part One of our special report, Shanghai-based writer and former Recorder reporter Kellie Schmitt reports on MWE China, while in Part Two Anthony Lin, The American Lawyer‘s chief Asia correspondent, drops in on Mayer Brown’s Hong Kong outpost.