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Interview Series

David Zou

Boss & Young, China

Feb 2016

Are there any recent updates in your firm?

In the past year the firm has grown in both number of partners and volume of business. We admitted four new partners specialized in antitrust making the team even stronger, which is a very positive development.

As for the expansion, we are always looking to strengthening our teams in all locations, and so we continue to seek for qualified lawyers with their expertise in different practice areas. But we do not plan to set up any overseas office yet. In terms of business volume, we have grown about 20 percent in 2015 over the year 2014.

Last year we also reorganized our practice groups. The core practices are:

  • Corporate,
  • Litigation,
  • Real estate, Construction and Engineering,
  • International Legal Practice,
  • Financing and Capital Market.

For our IP practice we established a separate company under the same name.

Are there any particular cases you would like to mention?

There are several interesting projects that are worth mentioning. Last year we advised a healthcare private equity client which focuses on acquisition and management of hospitals and health care Providers. This is a sector growing very fast and in need of reform and mixed ownership privatization in China. Working with this very active client has enabled us to build a quite strong expertise in a health care and medical services.

Recently, we also set up a hedge fund for an US hedge fund client which also seeks opportunities to capitalize on China’s large reserve of outbound investment. Investment fund practice is a dynamic sector that is challenging in legal skill and changing fast in China. I am proud to say that Boss & Young was highly ranked in this sector by Chambers Asia-Pacific. Currently, we are in the process of setting up several similar funds for foreign clients as well as investment funds for Chinese clients who are using these structures to invest outside of China.

Which practices areas are currently most in demand within your firm?

Inbound investment and acquisitions are very active practices, so as are Regulatory and compliance. As China is stepping up regulation and compliance, we are witnessing a trend of increasing need for compliance practice. As a lot of Chinese companies are seeking global opportunities, acquisition of foreign assets (equity, operating assets, technology, brand, distribution network, management team) is an active and fastly growing business for cross border transactional lawyers. I have been active in advising Chinese companies making investment and acquisition in foreign countries.

What I believe is important to mention is that Chinese economy and law are very dynamic. New business models are emerging every day, while new laws and regulations are constantly being issued. It is very challenging to catch up. You have to learn quickly. That is something very special in China, compared to e.g. Europe that is very stable.

Which jurisdictions are the most important to your firm?

North America and of course Europe are the most important foreign market for us in terms of cross border transactions. Select countries of Asia, with special emphasis on Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, and India are very important markets for us as well.

What are you currently working on?

Last year I was working on setting up a joint venture for a Canadian client who produces animation movies. Combination of Western ideas, technology with Chinese market and capital is attractive to many Western studios and producers. Technology, entertainment and media are areas which are becoming more and more important in our legal market.

Another interesting case I am involved is an outbound investment project of a listed client. We previously advised this client on its investment into an Indian listed company. Now, this Chinese company would like to acquire a renewable and energy storage company in Germany through a holding structure in Switzerland. We are cooperating with Rittershaus in Germany and also with our Swiss colleagues on this project. I see a lot of potentials in outbound investments of Chinese companies in Europe and US. Legalink can play a significant role in such cross-border transactions.

What would you like to change in Legalink? What can we do better?

I think the key for successful business referrals is to admit into the network firms that do international cross border work.

I believe the members should be more proactive in marketing Legalink and its members.

The members should not only rely on the network to do that. Member firms can initiate marketing efforts by themselves, or organize specialized meetings in some sectors. Members should know each other’s business and resources much better so that they can jointly market the services as well as match the needs of clients and potential clients. In my experience clients do appreciate proactive lawyers that can provide more than legal services, which means referring some business to them and sharing with them new business models and trends in other countries.

As I said, it is important that members know each other really well.

If you do not know the strengths of the members in specific countries, you cannot identify the business opportunities. So in the network we should do our best to match each other’s resources. We as a network have the capability to deliver the services because as we say, one plus one can be more than two.

When we make the Legalink brand better known though our cooperation, publications, conferences, new media…that will make huge difference.

Each of us has many groups where we are active, like media groups, where we share, talk, and discuss. Unfortunately, this is not the case of Legalink members. We invest a lot but we are not using the best of it, which is regretful.

We should communicate more, invest in marketing and share resources.

I would also like to emphasize the importance of attending the conferences. Sources change very quickly and it is important to share what is happening in members’ countries – what are the opportunities, what can we do jointly.