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CHINA PAIR THINKS THEY’VE FOUND NEW PATH TO WORK ABROAD Two of China’s leading lawyers, John Huang and Kevin Qian, went to the military at the same time, attended the same law school, and even played on the school’s basketball team together. Last week, they announced plans to leave their well-regarded Chinese law firm, AllBright Law Offices, and venture into uncharted waters together. The duo, along with 25 of their associates, created a “strategic alliance” between McDermott, Will & Emery and MWE China Law Offices, their newly created Chinese law firm. That agreement will allow their Chinese lawyers to practice Chinese law, something that’s forbidden for foreign firms, while taking advantage of an international network. It wasn’t an easy decision � Huang co-founded AllBright in 1998 and he and Qian have led the firm’s international division � but the new venture made a lot of sense, Huang said. As they were accumulating a lengthy list of international clients as well as Chinese clients looking for representation abroad, it was often frustrating working with various foreign law firms. “Sometimes we didn’t get full support,” Huang explained. In addition, some of their young lawyers were getting picked off by international firms who could offer promises of training and more seamless international connections. But Chinese lawyers who join international firms must give up the ability to practice Chinese law � something neither Huang nor Qian was interested in. “Kevin and I tried to think of alternatives � what could be the best model,” Huang said. They spent more than a year and a half pondering the options, calling in Newport Beach legal consultant Peter Zeughauser, of the Zeughauser Group. McDermott, Will & Emery quickly emerged as the best option, Huang said, since the AllBright team had worked with the firm on several international cases and seen impressive results. For McDermott, finding the Huang-Qian duo was a great coup, said partner Michael Fayhee. “They’re delightful people, affable, very intelligent. But beyond that, they had a wide amount of experience dealing with Western and Chinese institutions,” he said. “And, they’re very energetic � we’d often have conversations at 2 or 3 in the morning � then they’d go back to work.” On top of all of that, he said with a laugh, “John and Kevin have great taste in pot stickers.” Huang said he’s confident that the venture is a way for Chinese lawyers to get involved in an international practice without encountering the glass ceilings they may find if they join a foreign firm. “Others look at it as a new way for U.S. law firms to come to China, but, for us, it’s a new way for a Chinese firm to go abroad.”

Kellie Schmitt

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