New head of Asia for Linklaters

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Linklaters has appointed Hong Kong-based capital markets partner William Liu as Asia managing partner for four years from 1 June 2021.

Liu will succeed banking partner Nathalie Hobbs in Hong Kong, who has completed her term. He was previously the head of Linklaters’ China operations, and headed the firm’s capital markets practice for Asia since 2018. He also sits on the firm’s Asia executive committee.

William Liu, 刘克诚, Linklaters
William Liu

Speaking to China Business Law Journal about the firm’s strategy going forward with himself at the helm, he said the first priority was to prepare the firm and its people to be able to come out of the pandemic stronger than before. “For a year, we have pretty much been in crisis management mode,” said Liu. “After that, we need to be able to capture the growth.

“We need to find our edge. As an international firm, we have to accept that we will never be able to compete with the Chinese firms in terms of size and coverage.

“I think everyone is now talking about the recent enforcement actions by the Chinese government against some big tech [companies] with a view to ensure a fairer market environment, and ensuring fair competition. I think that’s probably the single most important trend in China.

“What we see is an increase in regulation and a much more sophisticated way of enforcement. My view is that the demand for high-quality legal services [in antitrust] will increase,” said Liu.

Compared with Chinese law firms, international firms run on a different cost base and profit expectation. “We focus very much on cross-border, on Chinese companies going out to the international market,” said Liu.

Linklaters has a joint operation agreement with Zhao Sheng Law Firm in the Shanghai Free Trade Zone, formed in 2018.

“Through the joint operation, we try to create a common identity and culture, and do everything we can to make sure [Zhao Sheng lawyers’] experiences will be the same as a lawyer of a leading global law firm, through training and secondments,” said Liu.