In 1993, Davis Wright Tremaine became the first U.S. law firm authorized to open a law office in Shanghai. With more than 20 years on the ground in China, our firm has been helping clients from many industries continue to prosper in China through good times and bad. We understand the current challenges facing our clients and also the lessons that can be learned from prior economic downturns. Now more than ever, it makes sense to select lawyers with extensive experience in China.
Lawyers in our Shanghai and U.S. offices work together closely. This provides our China-based lawyers with access to a wide range of expertise and offers our clients the flexibility of working with lawyers in their own time zone. We represent regional and multinational companies in traditional manufacturing and service industries. Many of our clients have been engaging us since the early years of our Shanghai office. With China’s further opening in recent years, we now also represent many clients in newly opening industries, including distribution, retailing, new technology, Internet and media, e-commerce, environmental and clean technology, financial and professional services, advertising, real estate, construction, health care, and investment funds.
We are dedicated to helping our clients achieve their business objectives in a practical and cost-effective manner. Our practice areas include the following:
Foreign direct investment and M&A
Since the opening of our Shanghai office, the core of our practice has been foreign direct investment and merger and acquisition transactions involving the purchase and sale of existing Chinese companies and foreign-invested enterprises. Our presence in China through several up and down business cycles has also provided us years of experience with restructuring, downsizing and resolving troubled ventures and relationships.
Intellectual property protection
Protecting intellectual property rights (IPR) is one of the most significant challenges facing businesses today in China. We help clients protect and enforce IPR by drafting appropriate agreements and licenses or by working with Chinese lawyers in administrative, civil or criminal actions.
Technology licensing, security and privacy
We assist both technology owners and users with licensing software for manufacture, commercial distribution, product development, and customer interfaces. We advise about the Chinese legal environment regarding collection, storage and use of customer information and on-line communications with customers.
Internet business and cloud computing
Foreign investment in the internet business in China is heavily regulated with many activities requiring licenses for such activities as internet data center, internet content provider and payment processor services. Cloud computing is new to China, and the regulatory environment is uncertain and evolving. We stay on the leading edge of these developments (and rumored developments) in this area and provide strategic and tactical advice to technology companies, on-line retailers and virtual mall operators.
Labor and employment
We counsel clients on Chinese employment laws, including individual and collective labor contracts, secondment arrangements and contracts, and confidentiality and noncompetition agreements. We also help develop company policies and employee handbooks and conduct education and training sessions on employment issues.
Franchising and chain operations
When China began allowing foreign businesses to have franchising and chain operations in 2004, our firm already had significant experience with pioneering retailers in this area. We handle operational and licensing contracts, develop appropriate onshore and offshore structures, secure various governmental approvals, and deal with operational issues such as foreign exchange and customs, import duties and logistics.
Land use, leasing and real estate
We negotiated China’s first agreement permitting a foreign company to use its land. This triggered the start of commercial land use and the ensuing robust real estate market in China. We have advised numerous manufacturing companies and property developers in their commercial, residential and industrial developments in China. We help some of China’s fastest growing foreign-invested retailers to acquire, lease and develop retail stores throughout China.
China's customs authorities have intensified their operations, increasing the number of investigations into multinational companies to enforce customs classifications and duties. We help our clients develop strategies for classifying products and, within the scope of our authority under Chinese law, help them respond to Chinese customs investigations, demands and administrative proceedings.
Litigation and dispute resolution
Cultural differences in China can be a barrier to effectively protecting a client's interests. Because Chinese law limits our ability to practice before Chinese courts, we assist our clients by identifying and collaborating with local Chinese law firms to develop effective litigation strategies.
Our government relations team helps guide clients through the political and bureaucratic intricacies of doing business in China.
Like all foreign law firms in China, we are subject to Chinese legal restrictions on our ability to provide certain services, such as appearing in Chinese courts and issuing legal opinions on Chinese law. We have developed a strong network of professional and local counsel to assist us, when appropriate, in providing a full range of legal services to our clients.
Our services are flexible and client-oriented with reasonable billing rates for both our Shanghai and U.S. offices.