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Clyde & Co’s ambitious strategy for China and global arbitration behind double trophy partner hire

Clyde & Co’s ambitious Greater China strategy has been credited with the trophy hire this week of Clifford Chance’s (CC’s) co-head of China litigation and arbitration Patrick Zheng to head its Beijing office, as in the Middle East Eversheds’ regional chairman Christopher Jobson joined as a partner in Abu Dhabi.

The hires form part of the top 15 UK firm’s wider long-term strategy to grow its international arbitration capability, particularly within the emerging markets.The firm confirmed it sees China as a growing region for international arbitration, especially because of its ability to work closely with neighbouring arbitration centres in Hong Kong and Singapore.

Zheng, who joins as managing partner in Beijing, specialises in international arbitration and China-related litigation. At CC he co-headed the international arbitration and disputes group across Greater China since January 2011. Prior to this, he worked at legacy firm Herbert Smith, and served the China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission (CIETAC) for eight years, where he handled over 300 cases. His key clients include HSBC, the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, Citigroup, Sun Hung Kai Properties and Cartier.

Clyde & Co now has four offices in China, after it became one of the first international law firms to launch in South West China via a joint venture agreement with West Link Partnership in Chongqing under the name Clyde & Co West Link JLV. The recently launched office acts as a hub for foreign investment, advisory and employment work for Western China and service domestic clients on outbound investment and dispute resolution services.

The firm’s Beijing office is its third office in China, which opened in May 2013, to focus on outbound investment in the natural resources, energy and infrastructure sectors, asset and project finance and international arbitration and disputes.

Ik Wei Chong, Clyde & Co partner and chief representative in Shanghai, said: ‘We have made significant progress in implementing the firm’s strategic development plans in Greater China; over the last eighteen months we have extended our network to include Beijing and Chongqing, in addition to our existing presence in Shanghai and Hong Kong, and we are continuing to expand in line with the firm’s core areas and sectors of focus. Patrick’s arrival will enhance our international arbitration offering to our Chinese client base and is indicative of the calibre of partners attracted to the vision and strategy being implemented by Clyde & Co and the platform it offers, both in the region and internationally.’

Zheng’s arrival follows the announcement this week that Jobson has joined the firm in Abu Dhabi. Jobson, a litigation and arbitration lawyer who has spent the last 10 years working across the region, based out of Abu Dhabi and Doha, brings the region’s dispute resolution group to 13 partners and over 40 associates.

Middle East head of dispute resolution and MENA Board Member, Chris Mills, added: ‘Chris has a long history with Clyde & Co, having spent the early part of his career working in our Dubai and Hong Kong offices. His well respected practice and strategic outlook strongly complements Clyde & Co’s regional strategy and direction, a key part of which involves our dispute resolution practice. We very much look forward to working with him as we engage on this next phase of growth.’

Clyde & Co’s Abu Dhabi office was established in 2004, with Jobson’s arrival now taking local office partner numbers to six, out of a regional total of 40.

Clyde & Co has also announced a number of international lateral hires over recent months as the firm expands its global international arbitration network, including Brian Dunning in New York and Prakash Pillai in Singapore. The firm currently has 60 international arbitration partners globally, the majority of which are based in London, followed by the Middle East, and then evenly distributed across the Asia Pacific and Continental Europe.