7 CHINA: ZHONG LUN AND JUN HE COUPLE UP • 9 CHINA: HO-HUM ON SHANGHAI FTZ • 10 SINGAPORE: XENOPHOBIA RISING • 12 JAPAN: READY, SET, SUE?
An Urge to Merge
Two of China’s top-tier firms are looking to find out if bigger really is better.
ILLUSTRATION BY KELSEY DAKE
Apotential merger between two of China’s most prominent law firms—Jun He Law Offices and Zhong Lun Law Firm—has set off a
flurry of speculation in the region about what such a combination would mean, both for the two firms involved and
for the emerging Chinese legal market.
The Asian Lawyer reported in late March that the
two Beijing-based firms, which along with King & Wood
Mallesons are widely considered to be among China’s top
law firms, are discussing a potential merger. If approved, it
would create a new Chinese legal behemoth with almost
Partners at both firms declined to comment on
their plans, but lawyers at other Chinese firms
said they were surprised the two were contemplating a merger, given their different reputations in the market.
“They are both top-tier firms, but the two have
entirely different cultures,” says Lin Wei, a Shang-
hai partner with Zhong Lun W&D, a firm that split
off from Zhong Lun in 2003. He says the
general view of Zhong Lun is that it likes to
stoke competition among partners, while Jun He
is widely seen as a firm where collegiality is prized.
Liu Hongchuan, a partner at Beijing’s Broad &
Bright, echoes that view. “Zhong Lun focuses more on
the individual ability of lawyers, and core partners have
more influence,” he says. Jun He, on the other hand, has
a more equal partnership. “The culture stresses cooperation among partners,” he adds.
So why would these two firms want to merge? A number of Chinese lawyers expressed the view that size actually does matter—and that the combination would enable
both firms to build on complementary strengths.
“The important thing is to create synergy,” says Victor Wang, a Shanghai partner with Allbright Law Offices. “The union between two already very strong brands
would enhance the coverage of quality legal service.”
While Jun He has traditionally focused on cross-border work, one Beijing partner with a Chinese firm notes