New York firm Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson announced that they will be opening a new office in Hong Kong. Nine partners from Simmons & Simmons of Britain have been recruited to move to this new office, along with 20 associates and six Fried Frank partners from the U.S. and Britain. This office opening comes four years after the proposed merger between Fried Frank and London’s Ashurst Morris Crisp. The merger would have been the first trans-Atlantic merger of firms of equal size, practice strength and profitability. But after over a year of no decisions, discussions of the deal ended in May 2003. Since then, Fried Frank has been expanding internationally on its own; its London office hosts 49 lawyers, Paris is home to 30, and the firm opened an office in Frankfurt in 2004.
A month after the announcement of the opening of a Hong Kong office, Bingham McCutchen plans to also open an office in Tokyo with 22 lawyers. The firm’s focus in Tokyo will be on its global restructuring practice. xJapan is the second-largest legal market in Asia for American attorneys, according to The National Law Journal. There are nearly twice as many attorneys there as there were in 2000 — but still remains much less than China — at 470 U.S.-based attorneys. The U.S. firm with the largest Japanese office is Morrison & Foerster, which opened in Tokyo in 1987 and now has more than 80 attorneys.