Five lawyers from Pinsent Masons China’s former “best friend” Hesen Law Firm will join Beijing-based JunHe—the latest group of Chinese lawyers to leave a western global firm for a domestic one.
Partner Elvis Zhou and associates Jean Zhu, Cecilia Hu, Tim Tian and Jian Chen specialize in construction and infrastructure projects and dispute resolution.
Zhou and Hesen broke off from a six-year-old exclusive alliance with Pinsent Masons in September. Soon after, three former Pinsent Masons China partners—Hew Kian Heong, Ellen Zhang and Michelle Li—left the U.K. firm for Herbert Smith Freehills.
The move is the latest in a series of Chinese lawyers rejoining domestic firms from global firms. Han Kun Law Offices last month recruited former Clifford Chance financial regulatory practice head Yang Tiecheng; before that, the Beijing-based firm had already hired away former partners from Morgan, Lewis & Bockius and White & Case in 2017.
Over the past few years, as large Chinese firms grow more competitive, more Chinese lawyers have opted to return to domestic firms from global players. JunHe itself in 2012 hired Warren Hua, former Beijing office head for French firm Gide Loyrette Nouel, while Fangda Partners famously poached antitrust partner Michael Han from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in 2014.
Zhou and former partner Ye Wanhe, both with legal and engineering backgrounds, launched Hesen in 2011 with Pinsent Masons. Ye left the firm and joined Beijing-based construction and engineering boutique firm Cyan Law Firm as managing partner.
Zhou advises on large infrastructure project disputes in China and assists Chinese contractors and financiers on disputes arising out of overseas projects.