Bird & Bird has entered into a cooperation agreement with AllBright Law Offices, a deal which will result in the Chinese firm opening an office in London.
AllBright’s new London base will be located at Bird & Bird’s offices at 12 New Fetter Lane, and is expected to open in March. The purpose of the office is to enable both firms to work together effectively on joint business development mandates.
The agreement, effective Thursday, is non-exclusive.
AllBright posted revenue of $272.5 million (£205.7 million) in 2016, placing the firm in fifth place in The American Lawyer’s China top 40. Its firmwide lawyer count that year was 1,661.
“For us, a cooperation agreement is a much more involved process about helping each other to look after clients in the best way, that uses innovative techniques and legal knowledge exchange,” said Bird & Bird managing partner David Kerr. “It’s not just a traditional referral scheme.”
AllBright senior partner Guo Zhongqing said the firm has been more cautious about globalization compared to some of its competitors, but that has now changed.
“We are responding to the urgent demand from our clients, who need a network of foreign lawyers in different jurisdictions,” he said. “Bird & Bird’s network of offices in 19 countries will be an extension of our legal services to our clients when they invest and operate overseas.”
Bird & Bird already has a significant presence in the Asia Pacific region, with offices in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong, in addition to bases in Japan, Singapore, and Sydney. In Singapore, it has formed an association that is known as Bird & Bird ATMD.
The firm also has cooperation agreements with domestic firms in South Korea, Indonesia and Malaysia, and a formal association with Chinese firm Lawjay Partners, through which it offers mainland China law.
This move in China follows the announcement of an office launch in the US. Bird & Bird is set to open a base in San Francisco next year—its first office in the US.
Bird & Bird currently has 28 offices across Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.
Earlier this year, Kerr told Legal Week that the firm was “very keen” to continue building up in new countries, with regions including South America and North Africa identified as targets.
Senior reporter Anna Zhang contributed to this story.