04 January 2018

Shenzhen admits first foreign law firm

Chicago law firm Brinks Gilson & Lione is the first foreign law firm to get approval to practice in China's 'Silicon Valley'.

The Chicago-based IP law boutique, which has just launched its office in the city,  was granted approval from China’s Ministry of Justice in August 2017. It is the firm's first international foray and will be headed up by Brinks shareholder Harold Johnson, who lives in Shenzhen. Mr Johnson has more than three decades of experience in IP law and will be joined by Fei Hu who was, most recently, senior legal counsel for chipmaker ARM, a processor for mobile phones and tablet computers. He was previously senior legal counsel to Huawei Technologies which is headquartered in Shenzhen. Before that, he was corporate legal counsel to Tencent.

Growing office

Mr Johnson and Mr Hu will be joined on a rotating basis by Siller and fellow Brinks lawyers Yuezhong Feng, and Lyle Vander Schaaf, all of whom represent Chinese clients. Mr Brinks plans to hire local Chinese technical and administrative personnel to staff the office. James Sobieraj, Brinks president, said: 'We are also honoured to be the first foreign law firm with an office in in Shenzhen and the Pearl River Delta area. We stand ready to provide important counsel about US IP matters to clients in this region, which is one of the world’s most vibrant economic and business communities.'

China's Silicon Valley

Since the Chinese government established it as a Special Economic Zone in 1980, Shenzhen has become known as “China’s Silicon Valley,” with a population of more than 20 million. The area’s economy features world-class technological innovation and continues to experience tremendous growth. 'We very much look forward to offering advice and guidance to Chinese-domiciled entities on the intellectual property laws of the US, and to helping them protect their IP,' said Gustavo Siller, Brinks president, who spearheaded efforts to open the office. 'We know we will serve a key role protecting the innovations of Chinese companies and defending them against assertions of infringement in the United States.'


'Guangdong Province offers remarkable opportunities, and we are very pleased to be the pioneering US law firm in this truly impressive city,'  Mr Johnson said. 'This is a great day for our firm, not only formally opening our first office outside the US, but being the very first US law firm to open an office in Shenzhen.'