Kirkland & Ellis is planning to open a Beijing office.
The firm, which currently has offices in Shanghai and Hong Kong, is in the process of applying for a license to operate in Beijing and expects government approval near the end of this year or the beginning of 2013, says Hong Kong partner David Zhang.
The office will be staffed by internal transfers, he says, most likely from Shanghai and Hong Kong but also potentially from the U.S. The number of partners and other lawyers who would make the move is still under consideration, but Zhang says the office will likely be a small one, at least to start.
"My sense is we'll build that out pretty quickly because the market demand is there," he says, adding that recruitment from other firms would likely happen eventually. "As we grow, we will engage in strategic, opportunistic hiring."
Zhang himself joined Kirkland last year from Latham & Watkins in a major push that saw the Chicago-based firm add eight partners in Hong Kong. He says the new office's practice will build on those in Shanghai and Hong Kong, such as capital markets, private equity and mergers and acquisitions.
"The next logical strategic initiative was to open in Beijing," he says.