UK: Lovells Expands China Practice, With Lateral Hire Of Telecoms Expert Robert Lewis
Last Updated: 31 May 2001
Article by Mr Edmund McMahon Turner

Robert Lewis, formerly General Counsel Asia for Nortel Networks, has joined Lovells as a partner based in the firm's office in Beijing. Robert's arrival marks the continuing expansion of the firm's Chinese practice and of its telecoms practice in Asia.

At Nortel Robert headed an international team of 25 lawyers and support staff, which handled most of the company's transactional work in-house. He has been based in Beijing since 1997, and has spent a total of 10 years in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing. Nortel is a well-established client of Lovells, primarily in Europe and North America.

Lovells has a long-standing commitment to its Chinese practice and its significance continues to grow in the light of China's forthcoming membership of the World Trade Organisation. This is expected to result in an increase in inward investment, particularly from both Europe and the US where Lovells has a strong client base; demand for legal advice is also expected to increase in response to structural reforms and further changes to the legislative and regulatory framework.

Telecoms work is also a growth area in the firm, in most of the 19 jurisdictions in which Lovells has offices. The telecoms practice in Asia was recently augmented with the secondment of Vivianne Jabbour, a senior associate from the firm's London office, to Singapore. Further recruitment is planned.

Commenting on Robert Lewis' election, Marc Bartel, director of international projects and Asia regional manager, said:

"Robert's arrival is significant for several reasons. In addition to his considerable legal skills, he brings an insider's thorough working knowledge of legal practice in China, which will be of great value in further developing our Chinese practice; he also has particular expertise in a specialism – telecoms – which is one of our fastest growing international practice areas. It is very good news for the firm."

Robert Lewis added:

"I have been fortunate to have spent the last 5 years in a senior in-house legal role with Nortel Networks in China and Asia, where I was able to remain very much a 'deals' lawyer, working on a wide range of foreign direct investment, vendor finance, technology and telecoms matters. I am now pleased to join Lovells in Beijing where I look forward to continuing to do transactional work principally in the areas of foreign direct investment, telecoms and finance.

"I'm also confident that my first-hand experience of working in China – particularly in Shanghai and Beijing – will help with the further development of the Lovells practice on the mainland."

Notes For Editors

Robert Lewis (43) qualified as a lawyer in 1985. He spent six years with Sidley & Austin in Los Angeles, and then 3 years with Baker & McKenzie, in their Hong Kong and Shanghai offices. He joined Nortel in 1996 in Hong Kong as Senior Corporate Counsel for Greater China, moving to Beijing in 1997 and being appointed General Counsel for Nortel Asia and then Asia in 1999 and 2000, respectively. Robert is fluent in spoken Mandarin and written Chinese. He joined Lovells on 28 May 2001.

Lovells has been in Hong Kong for nearly 20 years, and in 1992 was one of the first foreign law firms granted a licence by the Chinese Ministry of Justice to practice law in Beijing. The firm is unusual in offering a range of services in China which goes beyond the 'core' practice areas required by the larger transactions: in addition to corporate, M&A and project finance expertise, Lovells has strong Asian practices in telecoms, IP, construction and litigation generally.

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