Global Legal Post: China decoupling will continue for Western law firms in year ahead

In part one of this look ahead, I discussed how Allen & Overy and Shearman & Sterling’s transatlantic merger will likely shape industry trends in the US, UK and Europe. Now we turn our attention to the rest of the world, starting with Asia – where two trends will continue to dominate.

First, the decoupling of Western law firms from China will continue – Proskauer Rose and Akin Gump being the latest to head for the exits, and Dentons having ditched Dacheng – as the People’s Republic’s economic woes persist, including the possible collapse of heavily-indebted institutions. Law firm departures will also be motivated by data security concerns and increasing price pressure and competition for work from government-preferred Chinese law firms.

More firms will say goodbye to Hong Kong too, as Winston & Strawn has just announced, although firms with solid banking and finance, regulatory and shipping practices will stay the course, and some contrarians will arrive to take advantage of the thriving fintech and crypto scene in the Special Administrative Region.

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