Baker & McKenzie has become the latest in a growing list of law firms to open a second office in Mainland China. The firm formally opened its Shanghai office on Friday, opting to have a Valentine's Day opening party. In keeping with the theme of auspicious days, the approval for new office came in on Christmas Day 2002. It is the 66th office in the global network of Baker & McKenzie and complements the firm's existing office in Beijing.

"We're grateful to the Ministry of Justice for granting us permission to expand our presence in China," says Christine Lagarde, chairman of the firm's executive committee. "The Shanghai office allows us to better meet the increasing demands of our domestic and international clients in relation to international legal issues."

Baker & McKenzie will aim to develop close ties with leading local firms and will focus its practice on the whole range of issues including international trade, investment and corporate finance. The firm has over 50 lawyers working in its China practice group including Danian Zhang, who has been named the chief representative of Baker & McKenzie in Shanghai.

"Baker & McKenzie has long been recognized for its pre-eminent law practice in China. Our presence in Shanghai marks another milestone," Zhang adds. "As a leader in this market, we believe that our global reach and commitment to excellence will add to the pool of talented lawyers already working in Shanghai."