"Buyouts alone accounted for 277 transactions worth $121billion in Asia last year" according to The Financial Express China is most popular destination for new law firms
"The economic boom coaxed US firms such as Orrick, Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy LLP, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP, Morgan & Finnegan LLP, and Thelen Reid & Priest LLP to open offices, while New York-based Shearman & Sterling LLP and Sullivan & Cromwell LLP applied for licenses. London-based Eversheds, Norton Rose and Clyde and Co, and French firms Bignon Lebray & Associes and Gide Loyrette Nouel also expanded into China and Hong Kong in 2006…"
Punchline: Maybe the chatter about China not being profitable is simply not true. However, the question is "if you’re not doing the big deals, can China be profitable" and my view is that anecdotal information about governmental intereference and difficulty in enforcing payment of fees makes practicing law in China risky business for midsized firms.