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China’s King & Wood Never Had Founders by Those Names

Posted Feb 9, 2012 12:29 PM CDT
By Sarah Mui

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Beijing-based King & Wood has almost 1,000 lawyers in 15 offices—but it never had lawyers with the surnames King or Wood as founding partners.

Mark Schaub, who according to King & Wood's website came to the firm in 2000 and was the first foreign lawyer to join, told Reuters that "there was no Mr. King and no Mr. Wood" when the firm was founded in 1993.

Reuters notes that in the U.S., state ethics rules generally require that any surnames in law firm names reflect a lawyer who worked at that firm in the past or present. And sometimes law firm names can't even be any more descriptive than that. For instance, in 2010, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that a lawyer could not include "IP" in the name of his law firm to describe his practice. But law firms in China can name themselves whatever they think will inspire confidence in the local or global marketplace.

No ethics rules related to law firm names apply in Australia, either, so the firm will become King & Wood Mallesons after its merger (announced in late 2011) with Mallesons Stephen Jaques becomes final.

King & Wood has a Chinese name as well—Jin Du, Reuters reports. But those words aren't identified with law partners. Jin means gold, and Du can mean earth or—not surprisingly—wood. Reuters also notes that there is a "surplus" of law firms in China with "Bright" in their names.

Hat Tip: Wall Street Journal Law Blog.

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