Foreign law firms scale back China operations as outlook dims

  • International law firms are cutting back operations in China as an economic slowdown and regulatory uncertainty cloud their business outlooks.
  • Latham & Watkins, one of the world’s largest law firms by revenue, closed its Shanghai office this year, four sources said. Ropes & Gray, a Boston-based law firm, has plans to downsize its Shanghai office, three other people said.
  • The decision was made “in response to recent Chinese government mandates on Chinese law firms, including those relating to cybersecurity and data protection,” a spokesperson for Dentons said in a statement.
  • Lawyers also say competition between foreign and domestic law firms has grown as Chinese clients turn toward local firms amid geopolitical tensions.

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