Shanghai-based Yuanda China Law Firm has ended its 13-year relationship with Chicago-headquartered McDermott Will & Emery (MWE), and entered into a new alliance with Winston & Strawn, also a Chicago firm.

The announcement means that MWE no longer has a physical presence in Asia, as it closed its Seoul office in 2019. The firm has taken down its Asia office location list from its website.

A MWE spokesperson confirmed the news to ALB, adding that “we will continue to support our clients’ strategic business objectives in the region through our strong partner network in Asia.”

Set up in 2007, the MWE-Yuanda alliance is a well-known story in China’s legal market. It was the first official alliance between a PRC firm and a Western firm, and adopted a brand new economic cooperation structure that allowed both firms to utilize each other’s resources without setting up a  physical presence in overseas markets. The structure was later followed by a number of other international-PRC alliance. During this period, Yuanda was branded as MWE China.

Following the end of that relationship, Yuanda has started a new chapter as YuandaWinston.

The new alliance with Winston & Strawn aims to serve Chinese entities and global companies doing business in China on matters of intellectual property, international disputes, litigation and arbitration. It will also seek opportunities in the areas of finance, M&A and private equity.

Talking about this new alliance, Tom Fitzgerald, chairman of Winston & Strawn, said in a press release: “Yuanda is well known as a premier firm in China… We are delighted to work with a firm that shares our core values of collaboration and teamwork.”

“Winston’s reputation as a trial firm and its core strengths in IP, international trade, merger and acquisition, and litigation will provide immediate value to our clients in mainland China, as they seek opportunities in global markets and react to a changing regulatory environment - particularly as we continue to see the impact of the new U.S.- China Trade Agreement,” added John Huang, managing partner of Yuanda.

The YuandaWinston team is now comprised of 47 lawyers and led by Winston’s chairman Tom Fitzgerald, vice chairman Michael Elkin, Yuanda co-founders Huang and Kevin Qian, and partners Michelle Gon and Leon Liu.

“This strategic alliance with Yuanda China Law is consistent with Winston’s long-term strategy to expand our services to clients in mainland China,” said Fitzgerald.

In the Greater China region, Winston now has offices in Shanghai and Hong Kong. It closed its Beijing and Taipei offices back in 2017.


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