King & Wood Mallesons

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

King & Wood Mallesons
King & Wood Mallesons 2012.png
HeadquartersThe Landmark
Hong Kong
No. of offices27
No. of attorneys2,000+ lawyers
Major practice areasGeneral practice
Key peopleWang Junfeng
(Global Chairman)
Revenue$1.02 billion[1]
Date founded2012 (by merger)
Company typeSwiss Verein structure
SloganThe Power of Together

King & Wood Mallesons (KWM, simplified Chinese: 金杜律师事务所; traditional Chinese: 金杜律師事務所; pinyin: Jīndù Lǜshī Shìwùsuǒ) is a multinational law firm headquartered in Hong Kong. Its predecessor firms included King & Wood, a member of the Red Circle of leading Chinese law firms, Mallesons Stephen Jaques, one of the Big Six leading Australian law firms, and British-headquartered, "Silver Circle" law firm SJ Berwin.

KWM is the first and only global law firm based in Asia and as of March 2015 was the largest law firm headquartered outside of the United States or European Union.[2][3] It is the 6th largest firm in the world by number of lawyers and one of the top thirty by revenue, as at 2015.[4][5] In 2016, BRW named the firm as Australia's best professional services firm and best law firm with revenue over $200 million.[6]

KWM alumni include judges of a number of courts, including the High Court of Australia, the Federal Court of Australia, the Supreme Court of New South Wales and Victoria, as well as a former Prime Minister, the President of the Australian Human Rights Commission, and members of the Commonwealth Parliament.[7]


Gloucester Tower, The Landmark, KWM's global headquarters

King & Wood Mallesons formed on 1 March 2012 as a combination of Chinese firm King & Wood PRC Lawyers and Australian firm Mallesons Stephen Jaques, following votes in November 2011.[8][9] The firm uses a Swiss Verein structure, and has four financially independent partnerships: Australia; Europe and the Middle East; Hong Kong; and Mainland China, Japan and the United States.[10]

Mallesons Stephen Jaques[edit]

Governor Phillip Tower, KWM's Australian headquarters

Mallesons Stephen Jaques was considered one of, and the most profitable of, the Big Six law firms in Australia. The "Mallesons" part of the firm's name comes from one of the Melbourne founding partners - Alfred Brooks Malleson. Malleson was born at Richmond Hill, on the Surrey side of the Thames in 1831. As a 25-year-old London solicitor, Malleson borrowed £10 from his uncle to go to Melbourne, in 1856. Malleson was a leading practitioner. His obituary in The Argus in 1892 recorded that his expertise was especially "in company law and in the banking business. Several of the associated banks entrusted their legal affairs to the firm, as well as a large number of leading insurance and other companies, so that Mr Malleson had always as much as he could do". In 1858, the firm (then called "Muttlebury Malleson and Coster") handled the legal work to establish The National Bank of Australasia, which remains one of the firm's key clients as the present-day National Australia Bank.

The "Stephen" part of the firm's former name, Mallesons Stephen Jaques, comes from the Sydney founder - Montague Stephen. He was the second son of Sir Alfred Stephen who was Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of New South Wales from 1844 to 1873. Montague Stephen founded the Sydney practice in 1849. One of his earliest (1853) clients was the "Australian Mutual Provident Society". Today AMP Limited remains one of the firm's key clients. The "Jaques" part of the firm's name comes from a second "Alfred" - Alfred Jaques. He became a partner of the Sydney firm in 1878. In 1888 the firm's name changed to Stephen Jaques & Stephen - the name which continued until the 1980s.

In 1974, Stephen Jaques & Stephen merged with Davies Bailey & Cater of Canberra. This firm had been established in 1926 - predating the opening of the Provisional Parliament House in Canberra. Soon after, in 1976, the firm established its London office. In 1982, Stephen Jaques & Stephen merged with Stone James of Perth. The merged firm was called "Stephen Jaques Stone James". Stone James had been established in 1832 by a third "Alfred" - Alfred Stone, Western Australia's first solicitor. The merger reflected the growing importance of the vast mineral resources of Western Australia and its large offshore energy projects.

In 1987, Stephen Jaques Stone James merged with Mallesons. The firm subsequently adopted the name of "Mallesons Stephen Jaques". At the time of the merger, Stephen Jaques Stone James - one of the leading Sydney based firms - had 79 partners and 251 solicitors (a total of 330 lawyers) and Mallesons - one of the leading Melbourne based firms - had 37 partners and 83 solicitors (a total of 120 lawyers). The 1987 merger was driven by an assessment that Sydney, Australia's international business centre and largest city, and Melbourne, the traditional home to many of Australia’s major corporations and financial institutions, had become one legal market. This had happened as a result of advances in telecommunications and computer technologies. In addition, it was felt that the merger of the two firms - with their similar cultures and backgrounds, and with many shared clients - would give the firm the necessary depth of legal talent, and the level of technological and know-how support, to be able to assist key clients internationally, as well as in Australia. The merger enabled the firm to look after clients in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Canberra. In 1989, the firm opened an office in Brisbane.

Mallesons Stephen Jacques established its Hong Kong office in 1989, and Beijing office in 1993. The firm also established an alliance with Posman Kua Aisi Lawyers of Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea in 1995. In 2004 the firm strengthened its Beijing resources by taking on some lawyers and support staff from the former local office of Denton Wilde Sapte. Later that year Mallesons merged with the Hong Kong and Shanghai corporate boutique Kwok & Yih.

The firm was named "Australian law firm of the year" by PLC Global, Who's Who Legal, IFLR Asian Awards, INSTO Distinction Awards, and others, for many years.[11]

King & Wood PRC Lawyers[edit]

King & Wood was among the first law firms established in the People’s Republic of China during the modern era. In 1993, King & Wood’s founding partners were still working with a state-sponsored organization, the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, when the central government permitted private ownership of law firms, allowing them to create the firm.

The firm’s clients included Citigroup, China Life, Wal-Mart, PetroChina, Bank of China, the Beijing Organizing Committee of the 2008 Summer Olympics.[12] Prior to merging with Mallesons Stephen Jacques, King & Wood maintained an alliance with Australian law firm Gilbert + Tobin.[13][14]

SJ Berwin / KWM Europe[edit]

In 2013, King & Wood Mallesons and British-headquartered, "Silver Circle" law firm SJ Berwin announced that from 1 November 2013 SJ Berwin would merge with King & Wood Mallesons by joining the Swiss Verein as a fourth member.[15]

SJ Berwin was founded by lawyer Stanley J. Berwin along with 15 lawyers in 1982.[16] It was driven forward by Berwin until his death in 1988,[17] after which he was succeeded by Christopher Haan. In 1992, leadership of the firm was handed over to David Harrel, who led the firm for 13 years. Harrel oversaw SJ Berwin's strategy of European expansion. The management of the firm passed to fund formation partner Jonathan Blake in 2005, who took on the senior partner role alongside existing managing partner Ralph Cohen. During 2009 the firm opened three new offices in Hong Kong, Dubai and Shanghai. In 2010 Ralph Cohen stood down as Managing Partner and was replaced by Rob Day, who took office in November 2010.

Post-merger, SJ Berwin LLP changed its name to "King & Wood Mallesons LLP", but traded for a transitional period as "King & Wood Mallesons SJ Berwin" in Europe and the Middle East.

During the course of 2016, a number of high profile KWM European partners left the European part of the firm, and attempts to find a merger partner failed. The firm's global managing partner then stepped down amidst speculation that the European business would be recapitalised by the Chinese business.[18] It was subsequently reported that the firm was being advised by an external administration specialist.

On 16 November 2016, a memorandum was circulated to the European partners of KWM outlining the terms of a potential 'bail out' under which partners would have to commit to a 12 month "lock-in" (during which they could not leave the firm) and provide some additional capital. The remaining capital, £14m, would be provided by the Chinese business, and this would enable King & Wood Mallesons LLP to meet its financial obligations to lenders, pay its rents and taxes due in January 2017.[19] This deal failed to win approval; by the end of November 2016, KWM announced that it was considering a merger of its European partnership, while the law firms of Goodwin Procter and Covington & Burling were in discussions to hire key partners from KWM Europe.[20]

Australian Chief Executive Partner Sue Kench said that "what fundamentally let [KWM Europe] down" was that the European partners "ultimately didn't decide to put in further capital that was needed to fund their business for whatever reason."[21] In January 2017, the European law firm King & Wood Mallesons LLP became subject to administration under UK law and has ceased operations.

The Australian, Chinese, and Hong Kong portions of KWM, which are financially and legally separate, were unaffected.[20][22]

Immediately following end of operations of former SJ Berwin, King & Wood Mallesons has established a new business to maintain a strategic presence in the UK, Europe & the Middle East to service the needs of its global clients. KWM now has core practices in London, Frankfurt, Madrid, Milan, Brussels and Dubai. New companies of the KWM network have been established in the UK (KWM Europe LLP) and Germany (KWM Europe Rechtsanwaltsgesellschaft mbH). The new European platform focuses on Corporate M&A, Finance, Competition and Dispute Resolution and consists of more than 30 partners, together with their associates and support staff.[23][24]


Main practice areas[edit]


King & Wood Mallesons has 27 offices across Asia, Australia, Europe, the Middle East and North America.


In 2012-13, the firm's total global revenue was US$1 billion,[25] with revenue per lawyer of US$453,000 in China,[26] and profit per equity partner of AU$1.08 million in Australia[27][28] and £610,000 in Europe.[29] It is the 6th largest firm in the world by number of lawyers and one of the top thirty by revenue.[4][5]

Pro bono[edit]

King & Wood Mallesons provides pro bono legal assistance and representation on a number of matters each year and supports a number of other community initiatives.[30] The firm has a dedicated human rights group[31] and, in conjunction with the Ted Noffs Foundation, provides free legal advice for people aged from 14 to 25.[32] In 2013, the firm was named Corporate Social Responsibility Firm of the year by the Australasian Legal Business Awards, for the fifth consecutive year.[30]

Notable cases and transactions[edit]

King & Wood Mallesons and its predecessor firms have advised on a number of notable cases and transactions.



United Kingdom[edit]


The following list includes people who have worked or consulted for King & Wood Mallesons, or its predecessor firms:

Judicial appointments[edit]


Community and public service[edit]





  1. ^
  2. ^ "King & Wood Mallesons - Overview | The Lawyer". Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 7 March 2015.
  3. ^ "KWM - About us". Retrieved 19 April 2018.
  4. ^ a b "2015 Global 100: Top-Grossing Law Firms in the World -". Retrieved 19 April 2018.
  5. ^ a b
  6. ^ "2016 Client Choice Awards Finalists and Winners - Client Choice Awards". Client Choice Awards. Retrieved 28 November 2016.
  7. ^ King & Wood Mallesons - Notable alumni.
  8. ^ Financial Times (2011). Australian law firm votes for Chinese merger. Retrieved 28 November 2011.
  9. ^ The Lawyer (2011). King & Wood and Mallesons plan for post-merger globalisation. Retrieved 28 November 2011.
  10. ^ The Lawyer (2012). King & Wood and Mallesons iron out confidentiality issues ahead of merger. Retrieved 1 March 2012.
  11. ^ "Reputation". 16 February 2011. Archived from the original on 16 February 2011. Retrieved 28 November 2016.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  12. ^ "King & Wood Mallesons – Beijing – Law Firm Profile - Chambers Global 2014 – Chambers and Partners". Archived from the original on 29 February 2012. Retrieved 7 March 2015.
  13. ^ Australian Financial Review, "Mallesons firms up Asian link", 7 October 2011, p. 20.
  14. ^ The New Lawyer (2011). Mallesons, China's King & Wood, plan alliance Archived 14 August 2011 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 7 October 2011.
  16. ^ "King & Wood Mallesons - True Picture | Chambers Student Guide 2012". Retrieved 7 March 2015.
  17. ^ "Hall of Fame: The great and the good (A to K) | Analysis | The Lawyer". Retrieved 7 March 2015.
  18. ^ Legal Business (2016) Crunch time for KWM as partners meet over Chinese bailout deal. Retrieved 20 November 2016.
  19. ^ The Lawyer (2016) Exclusive: Dewey administration adviser drafted in on KWM rescue deal. Retrieved 20 November 2016.
  20. ^ a b Sullivan, Casey. "Big Law Firms Circle a Global Firm Under Stress". Bloomberg BNA. Retrieved 1 December 2016.
  21. ^ Ryan, Emma (29 January 2017). "Exclusive: KWM Australia breaks silence on Europe arm's collapse". Retrieved 31 January 2017.
  22. ^ Coade, Melissa (27 December 2016). "King & Wood Mallesons Europe arm severed". Retrieved 11 January 2017.
  23. ^ "KWM - King & Wood Mallesons' plans for UK, Europe and the Middle East". Retrieved 19 April 2018.
  24. ^ "KWM - Deutschland". Retrieved 19 April 2018.
  25. ^ "King & Wood Mallesons and SJ Berwin confirm commencement of the first global law firm headquartered in Asia". Retrieved 7 March 2015.
  26. ^ "Rules_And_Laws". The Economist. 31 January 2015.
  27. ^ Australian Financial Review (2013). King & Wood Mallesons. Retrieved 10 November 2013.
  28. ^ Mao, Debra (16 December 2011). "King & Wood, Mallesons Join to Form Asia's Largest Law Firm". Bloomberg.
  29. ^ The Lawyer (2015). [1]. Retrieved 7 July 2015.
  30. ^ a b "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 August 2014. Retrieved 13 December 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  31. ^ "KWM | Australia". Retrieved 7 March 2015.
  32. ^ Archived 30 March 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  33. ^ "Asian Legal Business". Retrieved 7 March 2015.
  34. ^ "Now, From China, the World's Biggest Company - US News". Retrieved 7 March 2015.
  35. ^ "SEC Info - Petrochina Co Ltd - SC 13E3/A - Jilin Chemical Industrial Co Ltd - On 12/23/05 - EX-99.(C).5". Retrieved 7 March 2015.
  36. ^ "- King & Wood Mallesons | Susan Ning". Retrieved 7 March 2015.
  37. ^ "Legal Week - King & Wood Mallesons acts for Microsoft on China anti-monopoly probe". Retrieved 7 March 2015.
  38. ^ "SJ Berwin LLP's victory in the House of Lords for OK! in the Catherine Zeta-Jones wedding photos case". SJ Berwin.
  39. ^ "SJ Berwin advises Lion Capital and Goode Partners on the acquisition of All Saints fashion chain". SJ Berwin.
  40. ^ Supreme Court of Victoria (2014). Appointments.
  41. ^ Bob Carr is included in his list by virtue of his role as consultant to Mallesons Stephen Jaques (as it then was) from 2006 to 2012: Senator the Hon Bob Carr – Parliament of Australia

External links[edit]