Palo Alto-based Cooley has expanded its presence in China with the opening of an office in Beijing that will focus on private investment funds formation and structuring. The Beijing office is the firm’s second in China; Cooley opened an office in Shanghai in 2011.
The new office will initially have three lawyers: former Ropes & Gray counsel Xun Zeng joins Cooley as resident partner, and associates Jingyi Xu and Bin Wang relocate from Shanghai.
Beijing will add on-the-ground legal resources to Cooley’s international capabilities, according to Mike Lincoln, global chairman of Cooley’s business department.
“We have a history of achievement across the Asia-Pacific region and, in particular, have worked with private investment fund clients over three decades,” Lincoln said in a statement. “China is a critical part of Cooley’s global growth strategy.”
Cooley’s Beijing office opening comes on the heels of the announcement by Atlanta-based Troutman Sanders that it is closing its three Greater China offices—in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong—due to the firm’s decision to shift away from Hong Kong securities and M&A work. In 2016, both New York-based Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft and Chicago-based Winston & Strawn also closed offices in Beijing.
Cooley has been advising on China matters for 25 years and is fund-formation counsel to more than 50 fund managers, with their primary operations in the country. San Francisco partner Jordan Silber said the firm has historically had relationships in both Shanghai and Beijing, and always anticipated a presence in both important cities.*
“The opening in Beijing completes our initial strategy of being present in both locales to serve considerable client relationships on a truly local basis,” said Silber. Under Chinese regulations, foreign law firms must wait three years before they are able to apply for a second office.*
Cooley now has 14 lawyers between its offices in Shanghai and Beijing, including five partners. The firm has no other offices in Asia. Its only other office outside the United States is in London.
The Shanghai office, its first outside the U.S., opened in 2011 when partners Bradley Peck and Patrick Loofbourrow relocated from San Diego. Peck, who is now retired from the partnership, returned to San Diego a few years ago, while Loofbourrow remained in Shanghai.
The office, which focuses on life science and funds practices, is now headed by partner Christina Zhang, who joined the firm in 2012 from Johnson Controls Inc., where she was Asia Pacific general counsel.
Zeng, Cooley’s newly added partner in Beijing, has advised China-based institutional investors such as Bank of China International, Citic Capital, and HOPU Investments on fund formation, structuring, and related governance matters.
She had been practicing with Ropes & Gray in Hong Kong since 2014, having been promoted to counsel last year. Before that, Zeng was an associate with Latham & Watkins and Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison.
*Updated 1/29: This story has been updated with comments from Cooley partner Jordan Silber regarding the decision to add Beijing office.