Guangzhou China. Shutterstock

Wei Tu Law Firm, an associate firm of the U.K.’s Stephenson Harwood in Guangzhou, is expanding after hiring three partners.

Shipping disputes partner Shen Xiangman and corporate partner Zhang Kehua both join from Guangzhou-based shipping specialist Wang Jing & Co.

Shen advises on litigation and arbitration cases concerning maritime and international trade matters. He joined Wang Jing in 1999 and became a partner in 2004. He led Wang Jing’s corporate and intellectual property practice before joining Wei Tu.

Zhang advises clients on both mergers and acquisitions and disputes related to IP and employment law. He had practiced with Wang Jing since 2007. Wei Tu also added litigation partner Henry Zhu from the Rolmax Law Office, a Shanghai-based shipping firm. Zhu handles shipping disputes before Chinese courts.

Wei Tu was founded in 2014 as a spin-off of Stephenson Harwood’s former Guangzhou office. Headed by managing partner Lu Xianming, Wei Tu first formed a “best friends” relationship with Stephenson Harwood and formalized that association in 2016 under the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement, or CEPA, a free trade agreement between mainland China and Hong Kong.

CEPA allows Hong Kong law firms to operate in association with a mainland firm under one license and provide Chinese legal counsel via the domestic Chinese firm. Stephenson Harwood is registered in China as a Hong Kong law firm.

In addition to its new recruits, Wei Tu also promoted deputy office head Zoe Zhou to partner. Zhou, a corporate lawyer, and Lu Xianming were both former legal managers at Stephenson Harwood. The hires of Shen, Zhang and Zhu now bring Wei Tu’s head count to 10 lawyers.

As for Stephenson Harwood, which earlier this week hired international arbitration partner Timothy Cooke in Singapore, just saw its gross revenue rise 11 percent during its most recent fiscal year, according to sibling publication Legal Week.