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Shan Jiang (MP/BJ, ’08)

Shan Jiang
Senior Vice President at Luckin Coffee

We recently caught up with Shan Jiang (MP/BJ, ’08), Senior Vice President at Luckin Coffee. Shan began his career as an associate in Davis Polk’s Northern California office before transferring to the firm’s Beijing office.

Read on to learn about Shan’s experience as an in-house lawyer in China and helping rebuild Luckin Coffee.

You were in both the Northern California and Beijing offices during your time at Davis Polk. Tell us about what it was like working in each location. How did you find transitioning from one to the other?

I actually had the good fortune of working at four Davis Polk offices. In addition to the Northern California and Beijing offices, I also worked in the New York and Hong Kong offices as a summer associate in 2007. I had similarly great experiences at all locations where I participated in structurally complex and intellectually challenging deals and benefited from superior mentoring and support from partners, fellow associates as well as staff members. Looking back, I am deeply grateful for my four years at Davis Polk, as I learned so much and acquired the tools and fortitude for my later career development.

I had a smooth transition from Northern California to Beijing given my roots in China and familiarity with Beijing, where I went to college. Additionally, I had the benefit of being on a three-month assignment in the Beijing office before I made the formal transition in 2012. After spending years in the United States for school and work, I was very happy and grateful for the opportunity to return to my home country.

Do you have a memory of your time at Davis Polk that you would like to share?

I have many fond memories from my time at Davis Polk. One is when I was working on an intense take-private deal for a private equity client at the Northern California office. Simultaneously with the take-private transaction, the client wanted to conduct a spinoff sale to another PE firm of certain operations of the target company, which involved assets and employees in more than a dozen countries. Our small deal team faced the challenge of managing over a dozen M&A transactions, all in different jurisdictions with different legal requirements and issues, and all needing to close at the same time within a short timeline.

On behalf of the client, we engaged and managed local counsel in each jurisdiction. We effectively took on the deal as both legal counsel and project manager. Each day was filled with back-to-back meetings across different time zones to discuss and resolve the ever-growing list of issues. With excellent guidance from the lead partner and strong teamwork, we were able to stay on top of every aspect of this mega deal, resolve complex issues, and in the process foster strong rapport with the client. Ultimately, we accomplished the goal of closing all transactions simultaneously and on schedule, a goal that initially seemed almost impossible.

You are currently in the legal department of Luckin Coffee overseeing internal controls and compliance. Tell us what your day-to-day is like.

My role at Luckin Coffee has evolved over time as the company has successfully addressed historical issues (discussed further below), rebuilt its compliance function, and grown to become the largest coffee chain in China. We now have over 18,500 stores in China, far exceeding other coffee brands. In 2023, we generated over $3.5 billion in revenue, making us the top coffee brand in China, and over $400 million in operating income. In addition to leading the compliance function, consisting of legal, internal control and internal investigation, I now manage the public affairs team and have taken on a leadership role in our overseas expansion effort.

I have been lucky that there has never been a dull day since I joined Luckin Coffee. As my responsibilities evolve, my day-to-day also changes. In the beginning, I spent most of my days in crisis management mode, when almost every day was filled with back-to-back meetings and late-night conference calls. Now that those days are largely over, I have more control over how I spend my days. In addition to regular management duties, I have been travelling quite a bit lately as we push forward on our international expansion plans.

I’d like to add that I am very grateful to the entire Davis Polk team with whom I have worked closely since joining Luckin Coffee. I joined the company in September 2020 to lead efforts to resolve a number of historical issues and, luckily for us, we had the outstanding legal minds at Davis Polk on our side to help us navigate these complex and challenging issues. From late 2020 through early 2022, these included a settlement with the SEC, settlements with the plaintiffs in several litigations, a $250 million private financing from our shareholders, multiple capital reductions to move funds offshore to make settlement and other payments, and the restructuring of $460 million in debt to emerge from provisional liquidation and eventually pay off all debts, fines and settlement amounts. The lawyers at Davis Polk are trusted advisers not only to me but also to the entire board and management team at Luckin Coffee.

I’m also deeply grateful to call Li He, co-head of Davis Polk’s Asia (excluding Japan) practice, a mentor, a role he has graciously taken starting from when I was a summer associate at the firm.

You have also served in legal roles at Airbnb and Amazon in China. Tell us about your experiences there.

I started my in-house legal career when I joined Amazon’s Kindle legal team in Beijing in 2013. Amazon has a very strong and structured legal team. I learned a lot from my colleagues and grew quickly as an in-house attorney as I supported the launch of Kindle in China. I also spent a year at the Amazon Lab126 legal team based in Sunnyvale, California, where I helped to negotiate Amazon’s manufacturing agreement with Foxconn.

In 2018, I joined Airbnb’s legal team in Beijing. At Airbnb, I had the chance to learn from some of the best in-house lawyers. I matured quickly as a leader and took on the role of Associate General Counsel to manage Airbnb China’s legal and compliance work. I gained a lot of experience dealing with complex legal and regulatory issues such as those relating to data privacy and short-term stay policies.

What is your go-to order at Luckin Coffee?

While I like to try all our new products, my go-to order is our SOE (Single Origin Espresso) series, such as Gesha Americano. I’d also highly recommend the very popular Coconut Latte series, of which we have sold more than 700 million cups so far.