Recently and for the first time in its history, the China Securities Regulatory Commission created a list ranking law firms by the amount of securities work they have done in the past. The CSRC released a 2007 capital markets legal advisor tables as part of the report. You can see the tables here. It turns out Beijing firms dominate over Shanghainese ones, and only one Fujian firm made it into the list of top firms. The rankings are also categorized by type of securities work, such as follow-on offerings and offshore offerings.

Why do Beijing firms have such a clear lead in securities? “Beijing firms are more close to the authority and have more chances to be involved in large IPOs and cross-border M&A deals,” said Zhu Linhai to ALB. “Shanghai firms are relatively smaller in size compared to their Beijing counterparts and have different focus on practice from Beijing firms.”

March 26th, 2009

Posted In: China, R.I.L.

Tags: , , ,

We have mentioned before that law firms are becoming increasingly creative in how they deal with the decrease in output and an increase in restructuring (which has become quite synonymous with layoffs). However, Norton Rose is a unique example, considering what it has done to ride out the recession.

The British law firm has proposed to cut down to a four-day week for all staff, which may be accompanied by a paid sabbatical that lasts four to 12 weeks. The four-day week option would allow staff to earn 85 percent of their salary while the sabbatical would pay out 30 percent. Individual staff salary cuts would be capped at 20 percent of their annual pay.

Essentially Norton Rose is trying to prevent redundancies, which is not only rare for a UK law firm but a law firm in general. The proposal is awaiting approval from staff this month, and if approved, it will be in effect starting May 1, 2009.

“This is something that we have been working on for some time and we thought it would be sensible to get something so that we don’t have to do down the redundancy route. We feel it is prudent to have something in place so that we can try to safeguard jobs next year… The key for us is to ensure that we can respond rapidly to any future changes in levels of work and that is why we have worked on this strategy. We see an advantage in maintaining our reputation as good employers,” Norton Rose chief executive Peter Martyr recently told Legal Week.

We think it’s a sound strategy, but it does have its disadvantages. Will the firm be able to outlast the recession like this and still maintain its reputation as a top law firm and top employer? Time will tell.

March 12th, 2009

Posted In: R.I.L.

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“This is the time to get rid of the billable hour,” said Evan R. Chesler, a presiding partner at Cravath, Swaine & Moore, in a January 29 New York Times article which speculates that the current economic contraction may push firms to consider changing their billing style. Corporations are no longer as willing to dish out $800 per hour even to top law firms as they see their own cash inflows and account receivables dropping.

As the article states, clients have always complained that they thought paying by hour gave lawyers less incentive to wrap up a case quickly. Not to mention that on the other side of the road, firms that do wrap up cases quickly and successfully may find themselves hurting when they charge too low of an hourly rate (Heller Ehrman’s downfall is a case in point).

Solo practitioners and smaller firms might give us a lesson though. Many don’t work by charging billable hours, and instead either charge by taking a contingency or success fee or merely charging a flat fee.

“The effective hourly rate [of a fixed fee rate] was something like 150 percent of our [MoFo’s] hourly rates,” Mr. Carl A. Leonard, former chairman of MoFo who is now a Hildebrandt International senior consultant. We doubt the billable hour, cornerstone of the profession that it is, will ever go the way of the dodo, but the fact that firms are becoming more flexible as they react to the changes in their fortunes is encouraging for their future prospects.

February 3rd, 2009

Posted In: R.I.L.

Tags: , ,

Attorneys doing work related to or interested in China and India have several opportunities in the coming months to broaden their knowledge and skills related to these fast growing, dynamic legal markets, while at the same time taking care of their CLE requirements.

Please follow the following links if you would like to know more about these opportunities.

Doing Business in India 2009: Critical Legal Issues for U.S. Companies (Live Seminar)
Feb. 11, 2009, PLI New York Center-New York, NY
http://www.pli.edu/product/seminar_detail.asp?id=48411

Doing Business in India 2009: Critical Legal Issues for U.S. Companies (Live Seminar)
Mar. 4, 2009, PLI California Center-San Francisco, CA
http://www.pli.edu/product/seminar_detail.asp?id=48412

Doing Business in India 2009: Critical Legal Issues for U.S. Companies
(Live Webcast)
Feb. 11, 2009
http://www.pli.edu/product/webcast_detail.asp?id=4841

Doing Business in China 2009
(Live Seminar)
Jul. 16, 2009, PLI New York Center-New York, NY
http://www.pli.edu/product/seminar_detail.asp?id=47571

Doing Business in China 2009
(Live Webcast)

Jul. 16, 2009

http://www.pli.edu/product/webcast_detail.asp?id=47574

International Arbitration 2009

(Live Seminar)

Mar. 24, 2009    New York, NY

International Arbitration 2009

(Groupcast Location)

Mar. 24, 2009   Philadelphia, PA
International Arbitration 2009

(Groupcast Location)

Mar. 24, 2009   Pittsburgh, PA
International Arbitration 2009

(Groupcast Location)

Mar. 24, 2009    New Brunswick , NJ

February 2nd, 2009

Posted In: R.I.L.

Tags: , ,

ALB LogoThe People’s Republic has really been internationalizing its legal system. The following are summaries of the ALB Legal News articles detailing the progress it has made:

The Anti-Monopoly Bureau of the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (AMB) has created a new set of guidelines that are more consistent with practices in other developed jurisdictions like the United States and the European Union.

  • The new guidelines essentially will establish more work for law firms in domestic mergers and acquisitions.
  • More of the work will be in the prefiling stage, as changes have been made in consultation drafts and merger filing templates.
  • With this heightened transparency, law firms will be better positioned to give clients appropriate advice.

The Shanghai Bar Association (SBA) and the Law Society of England and Wales (LSEW) have signed a strategic alliance to improve cooperation between Shanghai and foreign lawyers. (more…)

January 27th, 2009

Posted In: China, R.I.L., Uncategorized

Tags: , ,

Are you a Russian company looking to go public?  Forget London, Hong Kong is the place to be. [Russia Today]

We know China’s competition policy is…let’s say unclear.  Want a crystal ball on how likely your takeover bid will succeed?  Does the 20% spread on your target’s share price to your bid tell you anything? [Forbes]

Can the Chinese Government claim sovereign immunity over accusations of export-promotion, price fixing and dumping of Chinese goods?  China’s Ministry of Commerce, represented by Sidley Austin, has an amicus brief to prove it. [WSJ]

Foreigners will continue to invest in China to solve the global financial crisis, says China’s Minister of Commerce.  [Shanghai Daily]

Chinese insurance companies are now allowed to finance the country’s infrastructure projects as part of China’s recent stimulus package.  [Shanghai Daily]

December 30th, 2008

Posted In: R.I.L.

>In China, is it Rule of Law or Rule by Law? [China Comment]

>Looks like Heller has left the building.  The next 60 days will see an “orderly dissolution.” [ATL]

>China launched its Shenzhou-7 spacecraft today, and the country’s first spacewalk is in the cards. [News.cn]

>Morgan Stanley will sell between 10 and 20 percent of its shares to Mitsubishi UFJ, Japan’s largest bank company, for up to $8.4 billion. [Washington Post]

>The Chinese government has abolished its stamp tax on stock purchases, in an attempt to bolster its equity market following substantial losses.  [Lawofchina]

September 25th, 2008

Posted In: R.I.L.

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> In deal news, last week Mayer Brown JSM announced that it advised Dah Chong Hong Holdings Ltd on the acquisition of the entire issued capital of Silver Precious International Ltd and the related debt for a total consideration of approximately HK$142 million. Derek Tsang was lead partner in the transaction.

> Our friend John Carney is leaving ATL’s sister blog Dealbreaker.com to move to the… creatively named clusterstock.com.. Best of luck JC.

September 18th, 2008

Posted In: R.I.L.

Tags: , ,

* R.I.L. will be made up of links and other short subjects that catch our attention.  Gossip, speculation, etc.

>Heller Highwater promises “life preservers for the support staff of a flooded law firm amid the flotsam and jetsam,” written anonymously by a staff member of the embattled Heller Ehrman.  It has gotten thousands of hits in just two short days, so there is clearly some interest in the topic.

>Cypress Recruiting launched its Asia Legal Blog today. Woohoo!

September 17th, 2008

Posted In: R.I.L.

Tags: ,