Zhu Julie Lee



Z. Julie Lee is a partner and business lawyer in the Milwaukee office of Foley & Lardner LLP. Ms. Lee has extensive experience representing clients with their cross-border transactions, with an emphasis on China. She counsels clients on mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures and strategic alliances, and commercial transactions such as supply agreements, licensing arrangements, distributorship agreements, cross-border technology transfer and practical ways to protect intellectual property transferred to a foreign country. Additionally, Ms. Lee provides tax and business law advice relating to the formation, operation, termination and reorganization of corporations, limited liability companies and partnerships in the U.S. She represents taxpayers in administrative and judicial disputes with the Internal Revenue Service and the Wisconsin Department of Revenue on income tax, sales/use tax and property tax matters. She has also done a significant amount of international tax work, including assisting U.S. clients to structure acquisitions and reorganizations outside the U.S., structuring foreign clients’ investments in, and acquisitions/dispositions of, U.S. businesses and real estate, and advising foreign clients on U.S. estate tax matters. She is a member of the International, Taxation, and Transaction & Securities Practices and the Automotive, Energy and Sports Industry Teams.

Thought Leadership

Ms. Lee frequently speaks on the topics of cross-border transactions and mergers, acquisitions, and joint ventures. She has been quoted or featured in a number of legal and business publications about doing business in China, including the Wall Street Journal and the M&A Journal. Additionally, Ms. Lee was profiled in the Wisconsin Law Journal in an article titled, "Lee helps Wisconsin bridge gap to China," (November 17, 2010). Since 2000, she has co-authored the Tax Section of the Annual Survey of Wisconsin Law, published by the Wisconsin Bar Association.

Representative Cross-border Corporate Transactions

A list of Ms. Lee’s recent representative cross-border corporate transactions includes:

  • Represented a publicly-traded U.S. manufacturing company on its acquisition of equity interests in a formerly state-owned enterprise in the restricted industry in China 
  • Represented a U.S. technology company to form a cooperative joint venture in China 
  • Represented a U.S. service company in connection with its equity joint venture in the restricted industry in China 
  • Represented a U.S. manufacturing company in connection with its sale of equity interest in a Chinese joint venture and related tax issues 
  • Represented a publicly-traded U.S. company to enter into a $100 million+ supply agreement with a publicly-traded company in Asia 
  • Represented numerous U.S. companies on market entry strategies and the formation of wholly-owned subsidiaries ("WFOE") in China, and related tax, employment and contract issues 
  • Represented several clients in negotiations with their Chinese business partners, in the Chinese language, to quickly resolve disagreement and reach a compromise

Representative Tax-related Experience

A list of Ms. Lee’s recent representative tax-related experience includes:

  • Represented various Chinese and European companies to structure their investment in the U.S. in a tax-efficient manner 
  • Represented various U.S. companies on tax issues involved in cross-border joint ventures and acquisitions 
  • Represented various U.S. companies and non-U.S. companies on inter-company transfer pricing issues and issues resulting from sending employees to work in a foreign country


Ms. Lee was named to the 2006 and 2007 lists of Wisconsin Super Lawyers – Rising Stars® for her international work. She is a recipient of The Milwaukee Business Journal's "40 Under 40" award.


Ms. Lee is a member of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation’s Global Advisory Network and is a member of the Advisory Board of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce's China Council. She served as a member of the Governor’s Wisconsin International Trade Council and chaired the Milwaukee Bar Association's Tax Section.


Ms. Lee received her undergraduate degree from Beijing University in 1991. She joined Foley & Lardner after receiving her J.D. degree, cum laude, from Northwestern University School of Law in 1998. During law school, Ms. Lee served as co-president of the Northwestern International Law Society, co-founded the Northwestern Small Business Legal Clinic, and was an articles editor of the Northwestern Journal of International Law and Business.


Ms. Lee is fluent in English and Mandarin Chinese.

Representative Matters

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Foley represented one of China’s largest private insurance companies in connection with its acquisition of a significant equity interest in an entity that indirectly owns majority interest of a 65-story large office building in Chicago. The multi-office, Foley team closed the transaction in early 2015 after the Chinese client obtained approval from the Chinese Insurance Regulatory Commission. The Chinese client’s investment in the Chicago office building is part of the wave of investment in U.S. real estate by Chinese insurance companies looking to diversify their investment portfolio.
As a biotechnology manufacturer pursuing advanced approaches to treating life-threatening diseases, our client understands that large-scale innovation requires not only inspiration but often a good deal of IP due diligence. Foley represents a next-generation biotech manufacturer that has developed and produced treatments for hypertension, cardiovascular disease, forms of cancer, and infectious diseases. With the ultimate goal of conquering these illnesses and possibly even producing engineered human organs for transplants, this company first tapped Foley’s intellectual property team to investigate and license the necessary technologies. With broader capabilities than typical IP law firms, Foley handled other services as well, including assisting our client with its international expansion. Based on lower costs and government investment in a life sciences/regenerative medicine infrastructure, our client determined that a presence in China would be beneficial to its business strategy. Attorneys from Foley’s China Practice were brought in to help guide our client through the development of a new business entity and a medical university partnership in China.Together, Foley’s IP and China teams, both well qualified and equipped, handled a second strategy in this company’s work, focused on organ repair and replacement. Our client pursued a novel approach of creating a new and potentially unlimited supply of transplantable organs using cells engineered in a lab. With a combination of healthy, transplantable tissue and medication that until now have only been able to prolong life in patients with a fatal condition, our client is prepared to offer patients a real chance at long-term survival.Many companies would be concerned that pursuing this type of technology in the early stages may be too risky. However, with Foley’s support in IP due diligence, licensing, and agreement drafting, in addition to our help paving the way for the company’s work in China, our client is able to proactively pursue innovation and other advanced manufacturing in next-generation technologies. Our assistance in illuminating the IP and business risks and helping the client devise strategies to mitigate those risks has made it possible for the company to pursue its bold vision and proceed with further research and development in this promising area. At a Glance: Next-Generation Manufacturing Business Issues: • Customer-Focused Innovation• Global Engagement• Next-Generation Technologies
In September 2013, AgFeed Industries Inc. (AgFeed) completed an asset sale of AgFeed USA LLC under Section 363 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code to a consortium of Murphy Brown LLC, and entities owned by TriOak Foods. The sale netted $79 million in cash proceeds to AgFeed. In a separate 363 sale that concluded in December 2013, the China operations of AgFeed Industries Inc. were sold to Ningbo Tech-Bank Co Ltd and its subsidiary, Good Charm International Development Ltd., publicly listed in China on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange, for approximately $44.5 million. This deal has consistently been recognized, receiving the following honors: • 2014 Turnaround Management Association’s Large Transaction of the Year• 2014 ACG New York Champion’s Awards, Consumer Deal of the Year (under $50mm)• 2014 Global M&A Network Turnaround Atlas Awards, Cross Border Distressed M&A Deal - Mid-Markets• 2014 M&A Advisor International Awards, Deal of the Year (Over $50mm to $75mm)• 2014 M&A Advisor International Awards, Agricultural Deal of the Year• 2014 M&A Advisor Turnaround Awards, Sec. 363 Sale of the year (Over $50mm to $100mm)