Bird & Bird secures co-operation agreement with Chinese firm AllBright

Bird & Bird has entered into a cooperation agreement with AllBright Law Offices, a deal that will see the Chinese firm open an office in London.

AllBright’s new City base will be located at Bird & Bird’s premises at 12 New Fetter Lane. It 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 today, (2 November) is non-exclusive.

AllBright posted revenue of $272.5m (£205.7m) 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.

Bird & Bird managing partner David Kerr (pictured) said: “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. It’s not just a traditional referral scheme.”

AllBright senior partner Guo Zhongqing said: “AllBright has been more cautious in globalisation compared to some of our competitors. We are responding to the urgent demand from our clients, who need a network of foreign lawyers in different jurisdictions. 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 on the ground in the Asia-Pacific region, with three offices in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong, in addition to bases in Japan, Singapore – where it has an association forming Bird & Bird ATMD – and Sydney.

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 PRC law.

This move in China follows the announcement of an office launch in the US. The firm is set to open a base in San Francisco next year, which will be 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.