Photo of Thomas G. Appleman

Thomas G. Appleman

China Practice Team Leader


+86.21.2221.2000 or +


Wayne State University Law School, J.D., 1981

Michigan State University, B.S., 1978

Bar Admissions

Thomas G. Appleman focuses his practice on inbound and outbound foreign direct investment and multi-national cross-border mergers, acquisitions and joint venture transactions.

He also helps U.S. clients take their products and services into the global marketplace by expanding their operations into Europe, China, India, Mexico, Brazil, South Korea and countries with emerging markets including Pakistan and Slovakia, and represents foreign businesses in establishing operations and joint ventures in North America.

With his colleagues, Tom helps clients around the world with their global legal and business needs including planning and coordinating legal diligence reviews, navigating complex legal and regulatory requirements, securing tax and economic development incentives, licensing and protecting patents and other intellectual property, negotiating agreements with customers and vendors, meeting immigration requirements, navigating trade and custom issues, and facilitating dispute resolution. 

Representative Matters

As the leader of our Chinese business practice, Tom manages a talented team of 28 professionals representing a cross section of the firm's practice areas and global offices.  The team includes Mandarin speaking lawyers, legal consultants, paralegals and a global business developer. From its global offices in North America, Poland and now Shanghai (established in 2008), our China practice team is able to offer our worldwide clients real time, 24/7 coverage.

As part of his international cross-border transactional practice, Tom has assisted clients in acquiring and divesting operations and establishing joint ventures in more than 20 countries. These transactions require managing local counsel in each jurisdiction and navigating the numerous and sometimes conflicting corporate, tax, foreign investment, licensing, environmental, employment and employee benefits, intellectual property, and other legal and regulatory hurdles. It also involves developing creative but practical solutions to permit coordinated global closings to take place on time.


Best Lawyers in America, Corporate Law and Securities Regulation, 2006-present; Mergers & Acquisitions, Corporate Governance Law, and Securities/Capital Markets Law, 2012-present; Lawyer of the Year, Securities Regulation 2018 & 2021; Lawyer of the Year, Corporate Governance Law 2019 & 2024; Lawyer of the Year, Securities / Capital Markets Law 2020 & 2024; Lawyer of the Year, Mergers and Acquisitions Law 2023

DBusiness Top Lawyers, Corporate Law, Commercial Law, Mergers & Acquisitions Law, Securities Law, 2020-present

Michigan Super Lawyers, Securities & Corporate Finance 2008-present

Who's Who, Life member of National Registry (published in 2000 edition)

Professional Activities

American Bar Association

State Bar of Michigan since 1981, Business Law Section; International Law Section

Michigan Business Corporations Act Committee

Oakland County Bar Association

Civic, Cultural & Social Activities

Detroit Chinese Business Association

Asian Pacific American Chamber of Commerce

American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai

Association for Corporate Growth

Institute for Continuing Legal Education, Business Advisory Board


"What's Next for the Governor's Emergency Powers? Breaking Down the Michigan Supreme Court Decision," Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce webinar, Oct. 8, 2020

"Enforcing Your Commercial Contracts in China," U.S. Hide, Skin and Leather Association, October 2, 2015 

"Mandatory Reporting Requirements for Certain New Foreign Direct Investments in the US in 2015 Explored," Knowledge Group Webinar, June 6, 2015 

"Legal Considerations of Investing in the United States," China Outbound Investment Summit, Shenyang, CN, May 16 and 17, 2013; Beijing, CN, June 19 and 20, 2013

"Foreign Corrupt Practices Act," Miller Canfield Export Webinar Series, November 26, 2012


"US investment and export restrictions on Chinese military companies," co-authored with Jeffrey Richardson and Zhiguo Du, WorldECR, March 2021

China to implement a new Negative List system for market access (Co-author), October 5, 2015

MOFCOM’s Pilot Program for Reviewing and Approving Foreign Investment Projects (Co-author), June 19, 2014

New Rules on Overseas Investment by Chinese Companies (Co-author), January 24, 2014

China’s New 3Rs-Warranty Policy for Domestic-Use Automobiles: An Overview (Co-author), January 2014

Your Chinese Trading Partners’ SAFE Status May Impact Your Payment Terms, China International Newsletter, December 2012

SEC and DOJ Release FCPA Resource Guide, November 14, 2012

"Buying and Selling a Business in Michigan," 2nd Edition (ICLE 2003) coeditor and author of chapters titled "Drafting Considerations in Asset, Stock and Membership Interest, Purchase Agreements, and Merger Agreements."

Advising Closely Held Businesses in Michigan, coeditor and author of chapter titled "Forming a Corporation." (ICLE, 2000)

"Business Associations, 1993 Annual Survey of Michigan Law," 39 Wayne Law Review, 317. (1993)

"Two Heads are Better Than One--Joint Ventures Provide Financial Advantage without the Costs of a Merger," 1 Michigan Law 20. (July 1989)

"Statutory Record Retention Requirements," 249 Laches 8. (1986)

"Business Associations, 1983 Annual Survey of Michigan Law," 30 Wayne Law Review 245. (1983)