Baker Botts announced the opening of its new office in Beijing today. With an office in Hong Kong, this is the firm’s second location in China. John Kuzmik, the head of the firm’s China practice, commented that “For infrastructure and energy projects, as well as for cross-border debt and equity transactions, a strong Beijing presence can be critical.” Baker Botts is largely focused on the energy industry in China, having represented many of the world’s leading energy companies on major projects in Asia. Baker Botts now has 11 offices worldwide and approximately 750 lawyers.
New York firm Weil Gotshal & Manges plans to close its Brussels office in a move to focus its attention on an Asian expansion. The business out of the two-lawyer office will then be handled by the other European offices. Weil Gotshal has already applied for a licence to practice in Beijing, and hopes to open by summer with a combination of local and transferred attorneys. The firm also hopes to open in Hong Kong sometime in the near future. Currently only with an office in Shanghai, the firm’s ultimate goal is to have a quarter of its lawyers in Asia, as it does already in Europe.
Two large arbitration and mediation providers, California-based JAMS and the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre, are joining forces to handle the increasingly international nature of disputes. JAMS is a for-profit company out of Irvine, CA and has more than 200 full-time neutrals in offices nationwide. Allied with the Hong Kong group, it will have access to more than 250 arbitrators and more than 200 accredited mediators on the Hong Kong nonprofit organization’s panels. The alliance will emphasize promoting the use of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) in Asia where it currently is not widely used.
Thelen Reid Brown Raysman & Steiner has made another lateral hire in its Shanghai office, bringing its numbers there to 11. David Tang, a corporate of counsel, joins from Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, and specializes in real estate finance and corporate work for foreign and Chinese companies. Other recent additions to the Shanghai office include Richard Chao, from Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, and three new Chinese legal consultants. In order to accomodate the new hires, the firm has moved from a small temporary office to the Bund Center in the old financial district.
Shipping firm Thomas Cooper & Stibbard will open an office in Paris after hiring a three-partner shipping team from the local office of Reed Smith Richards Butler. Lars Lewis, the former managing partner of Reed Smith’s Paris office, along with Peter Iglikowski and Christophe Hunkeler will make the move next month. Thomas Cooper now has a total of six offices, including those in London, Singapore, Athens, Vancouver and Madrid. The firm also recently hired shipping and insurance specialist Ben Browne from Shaw & Croft for its London office.
WilmerHale expands its China practice with the addition of corporate lawyer, Robert Woll, to its Beijing office. Woll joins as Co-Partner in Charge from Morrison & Foerster’s Hong Kong office. He is highly regarded as a expert in his field, known especially for his top work in private equity transactions. WilmerHale’s China practice deals with incountry corporate and regulatory issues, as well as offering expertise in public policy and government affairs. The firm has over 1,100 lawyers in its ten offices worldwide.
Blank Rome has added two new partners to its Hong Kong office. Peter Mills was named partner in the Maritime group; as a litigator in this industry, he advises clients in areas such as the sale and purchase of ships and cargoes, enforcement of international awards and judgments, crisis and casualty management, unsafe berth disputes, and personal injury and death claims. Andrew Hart was hired as a partner in the commercial litigation group. He comes from Barlow Lyde & Gilbert, and advises clients on all aspects of dispute resolution in the areas of employment, banking, regulatory, insolvency, property, trusts and corporate work. Blank Rome’s Hong Kong office opened in October 2006 as a part of the firm’s combination with the international law firm of Healy & Baillie LLP.
Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton opens its first international office in Shanghai, China. The LA firm has recruited former Coudert chairman David Huebner as its regional managing partner in the new office, and has also hired two attorneys from AllBright for the opening. Though this will be the firm’s first overseas location, it did already have US-based teams for Israel, Italy, Latin America, South Korea, and China. Because many of Sheppard Mullin’s clients have operations in China, the firm felt that in order to provide them with the needed support, they needed to establish a branch there.
DLA Piper has hired Patrice Marceau for its tax advisory practice. Marceau joins the Hong Kong office as a partner. Before joining DLA Piper, he was a part of HSBC’s wealth and tax advisory group. Marceau has experience advising on local, regional and international tax issues for corporations and banks, tax planning for individuals and representing clients in tax litigation matters.
Morgan Lewis & Bockius acquired a new partner from Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison for its Tokyo office. Lisa Yano joins the team as a co-managing partner and co-head of the firmâ€™s local joint venture, Morgan Lewis-TMI. Yano focuses her work on M&A and private equity transactions; she has practiced in Tokyo for over 15 years. Opened in 1998, Morgan Lewis’ eight-lawyer Tokyo office now has five partners.