Representative Partner Moves & Promotions: 2011 Year in Review

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Posted on June 30, 2011 at 6:06 PM


With many lateral partner moves and promotions at the senior level and partner level so far this year, there has certainly been a significant amount of restructuring at many of the top firms in Shanghai/Beijing, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Singapore. We’ve seen a few trends so far this year—continued movement between local and foreign firms, increased hiring in emerging practice areas such as international arbitration and IP as well as key hires by Wall Street firms as they hire Hong Kong qualified attorneys from magic circle firms. We have also seen more firms elevate upon hiring and strategically pulling senior associates and counsel from top firms with the bait of partnership. This year Cypress was retained by more firms than ever to locate top partners and open new onshore offices. Please see below for further details.

SHANGHAI/BEIJING

JANUARY

*Clifford Chance has appointed Patrick Zheng as partner to spearhead the firm's China litigation and dispute resolution practice. Zheng has significant experience in international dispute resolution, particularly in international arbitration and ADR, having worked for eight years at China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission (CIETAC) where he handled over 300 cases.

FEBRUARY

*Allen & Overy has appointed Benjamin Bai as partner to head its IP practice in China, based in Shanghai. Prior to joining the firm, Bai was a partner at Jones Day where he built and co-headed its IP practice in China.

*O'Melveny & Myers has appointed Ke Geng as a partner based in the Beijing office. Geng, who joined from Skadden Arps, possesses considerable experience in cross-border corporate finance transactions, with focus on public securities offerings and exchange listings, private equity investments and acquisitions.

*Zhong Lun Law Firm has appointed Robert Lewis as international managing partner. He has practiced in China for nearly 20 years. Lewis was formerly the managing partner of the Beijing office of Hogan Lovells for nine years before joining the Beijing office of Shanghai-based AllBright Law Offices earlier last year.

MARCH

*Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe welcomed Jeffrey Sun Jie as a partner in its China Corporate Group. Sun will operate out of Orrick's office in Shanghai. Sun has had over a decade of experience representing Chinese and multinational companies from several industries, including consumer and retail, financial services, life sciences, renewable energy and technology.

APRIL

*Pillsbury Winthrip Shaw Pittman LLP has named Woon-Wah Siu as the new office Managing Partner for its Shanghai office.  Ms. Siu who is a veteran corporate and securities lawyer, specializes in China-oriented capital markets transactions.  Additionally, Scott Kline, a Shanghai-based partner was chosen as the firm's China representative.

MAY

*Simmons & Simmons has recently appointed Eric Lin as a partner.  Lin formerly was a senior associate at Allen & Overy of Beijing.  Lin has experience working with both Chinese and European clients in areas of international Chinese investments.  Lin has specific experience in finance projects, energy and infrastructure, as well as real estate.

JUNE

*McDermott Will & Emery will be moving Frank Schoneveld, a senior Brussels antitrust partner to its Chinese alliance firm.  Schoneveld will be joining MWE's China Law Offices, based in Shanghai.

*Dechert has appointed Jingzhou Tao as a managing partner delegated to develop the firm's Asia practice.  Tao formerly was a partner at Jones Day and prior to that was a managing partner of DLA Piper's office in Beijing.  Tao will be working in the firm's international Arbitration and Corporate & Securities practice, which he has over twenty-five years of experience in.

*King & Wood has appointed Dr. Nongfan Zhu as partner and co-head of the firm's IP practice.  Zhu was previously serving as the president of China Science Patent and Trademark Agent.  Prior to that, Zhu has worked as for General Electric as senior counsel in Asia Pacific as well as at Pennie & Edmonds (US firm).

*Clifford Chance's Maggie Lo was made a partner in their Beijing office.  She specializes in the banking and finance sectors and has advised many important Chinese and overseas financial institutions and borrowers with respect to their deals, development, acquisitions and projects.  Clifford Chance Shanghai has also promoted partners Glen Ma, Kelly Gregory and Jean Thio.

*Herbert Smith promoted of Melody Chen in Beijing.  Chen is well experienced in advising with respect to corporate matters and securities regulations and is qualified to practice in New York, California and China.

*Covington & Burling LLP has appointed Shaoyu Chen as the firm's managing director of China's food and drug practice. Mr. Chen has significant experience in the field as he served as senior counsel at Amgen Inc, as chief compliance counsel for GE Healthcare (China) as well as serving as assistant chief counsel in the US Food and Drug Administration's Office of Chief Counsel.

*Herbert Smith, due to a rise in investigations related work in Asia, hired Kyle Wombolt, formerly a partner at Goodwin Proctor, to strengthen their corporate investigations team.

*Broad & Bright has promoted senior lawyers, Han Dongmei, Yang Ying, and Sun Ming to their partnership, now at 19 large. Han and Yang are practicing in the Beijing office, while Sun Ming is located in Shanghai. Han and Yang, two of Beijing's best, specialize in corporate transactions/dispute resolution and anti-trust/international trade law, respectively. Sun Ming, who joined from Jin Mao as a senior lawyer, specializes in M&A and corporate law.

*K&L Gates hired Amy Sommers to their corporate team. She was formerly at Squire, Sanders & Dempsey. Sommers specializes in M&A, finance, real estate, and anti-corruption compliance.

*Fangda Partners hired Jun Hu as a partner in its Beijing Office. His practice areas include M&A, private equity investment, general corporate, banking, securities offerings, and foreign direct investment.

HONG KONG

January

*The head of King & Wood's taxation practice Stephen Nelson has made a lateral move to join DLA Piper in Hong Kong as a new partner of its Asian tax practice. Nelson will be based in Hong Kong and expects to spend a major portion of his time in DLA Piper's Beijing office. King & Wood also lost partners, John Lo and Kenneth Y Choy, who have both moved to the Hong Kong office of US firm Edwards Angel Palmer & Dodge (EAPD). Lo is a corporate specialist with a focus on emerging companies, venture capital, private equity, M&A and outbound Chinese investment. Choy is an IP practitioner whose practice encompasses both the contentious and non-contentious aspects of the area.

*Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has appointed senior corporate partner Robert Ashworth as Asia regional managing partner. Ashworth, who has worked in China for 16 years, has led the firm's corporate practice in Asia since 2000. He specializes in corporate law, particularly cross border M&A and private equity.

*Cleary Gottlieb has added another partner to its office in the SAR with the transfer of Christof von Dryander. von Dryander, who has been based in the firm's Frankfurt office, relocated to Hong Kong following an increase in transactional work flowing between Asia and Europe

*Norton Rose has appointed Charlotte Robins as a partner in the Hong Kong corporate team. Robins joins from Clifford Chance Hong Kong, where she is a consultant. With over 10 years' experience based mainly in Asia, her practice is focused on financial services regulatory and licensing matters across the Asian region, including advising hedge funds and private equity funds on their establishment and ongoing regulatory requirements, and investment banks on legal and compliance issues.

FEBRUARY

*King & Wood and Swiss firm SG Fafalen are now parting ways, less than a year after forming their alliance,. The firms' motivations for this move are yet unclear, however, SG Falafen did announce the following statement: ""After unsuccessfully attempting to combine our culture and operations with [King & Wood], we have resolved to spin off and to resume our independent legal practice in Hong Kong." The Swiss firm will resume their alliance with Hong Kong firm Huen & Partners.

*Baker & McKenzie has hired James Kwan as a partner in its China Dispute practice. Mr. Kwan, who is coming from the Hong Kong office of Simmons & Simmons, focuses his practice on international commercial arbitration and litigation.

*King & Wood has announced the addition of senior PRC litigator, Renee Gu, to expand the firm's Hong Kong and China dispute resolution practice. Ms. Hu has over 20 years China dispute resolution experience, including working at the firms Jones Day and Herbert Smith.

MARCH

*Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton, and Garrison have strengthened their practice capabilities in China. This has been accomplished with the addition of Gary Li to the firm's China Practice management team. Li, a corporate partner based in the firm's Hong Kong office, concentrates on a large scale of China-related transactions.

*Ashurst hired its first litigation partner in their Hong Kong office with their lateral hire of Simmons & Simmons disputes lawyer Gareth Hughes. He will be the second disputes partner the firm has in the Asian region. A litigator specializing in the banking and finance sector, Hughes has advised financial institutions and corporate clients in commercial disputes, international arbitrations, shareholder disputes and commercial fraud claims.

*K&L Gates bolstered its Hong Kong corporate practice with the appointment of Maria Tan Pedersen as a corporate partner. She joins from Howrey, as a transactional and energy lawyer with corporate and commercial practice.

MAY

*Skadden has strengthened their Hong Kong office with several promotions in their Hong Kong office. These promotions were granted to Li-Chien Wong, who was promoted to the global partnership; Adam Cheng and Robert Graffum, both corporate lawyers who are now counsels.

*Simpson Thacher got Celia Lam, former head of Linklater's Beijing office, and Christopher Wong, head of Freshfields' Beijing office, in May of this year. Both were hired to help lead Simpson Thacher's newly formed Hong Kong team. They expect to launch their Hong Kong department in September/October of this fall.

JUNE

*Herbert Smith has recently hired Kyle Wombolt as a partner to be based out of Hong Kong.  Wombolt is qualified in both the U.S and Hong Kong with tremendous experience in financial investigations throughout Asia.  He has specific experience with advising US attorneys with regards to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act as well as US securities laws.

*Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has appointed Howard Lam, previously counsel at Linklaters, as a partner at the firm.  Lam is well experienced in both European and Asian financial transactions.  He has specific experience in cross-border debt restructuring, banking, insolvency and project finance lending.

*Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, in an effort to revamp its Asia management team, has relocated its former US managing partner to Hong Kong. Melissa Thomas, former Shanghai managing partner and corporate specialist has been moved to Beijing managing partner. Heiner Braun, a corporate partner, will be taking over Thomas' past position, as Shanghai managing partner and James Lawden, a finance partner, will replace James Wood as Japan managing partner. All of these changes came from the hiring of Teresa Ko as the chairman of the China Practice in April of this year. David Cotton, another international capital markets lawyer from London, will also be moving to Hong Kong.

*Proskauer Rose recently hired Seung Chong and Jeremy Leifer to add to their already growing Hong Kong mergers and acquisitions team as partners. Formerly at White & Case, the cross-border mergers specialists make up the now 6-member partner team at Proskauer's Hong Kong office.

*Sullivan & Cromwell hired Kay Ian Ng, former Managing Partner of Freshfields‘ Hong Kong firm. Kay Ian Ng advised China Everbright Bank on their Hong Kong IPO, potentially raising the bank an additional $6 billion on top of the $2.8 billion they got from their Shanghai Exchange IPO earlier this year. Kay will lead the new Hong Kong practice for Sullivan & Cromwell.

JAPAN

FEBRUARY

*White & Case hopes to strengthen its bengoshi profile, focusing on reinforcing its Japanese law capability in M&A, Real Estate and Restructuring. Jun Usami and Ayako Kawano join the firm from Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker LLP. Usami has been named co-head of White & Case's Tokyo M&A/Corporate Practice, alongside partner Brian Strawn. Kawano is a corporate and real estate specialist, dual-qualified in Japan and New York. In the White & Case press release, her experience in acquisitions, private equity investments, and cross-border bankruptcy-related M&A were cited.

*Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe has appointed Yoshihiro Takatori as partner and chair of the firm's Japan litigation practice. He brings with him a team of lawyers and professionals, including Of Counsel Shinsuke Yakura. Takatori has successfully tried and won several high-profile commercial cases for both Japanese and international clients.

*Morrison & Foerster announced that that leading international tax Partner, Eric Roose, will join the firm's Tokyo office. The move provides Morrison & Foerster's already established Tokyo office, a premier tax platform to complement its other practice areas in Tokyo.

APRIL

*Anderson Mori & Tomotsune added Piyasena Perera, M&A specialist partner, as a special foreign counsel. She left Magic Circle firm Allen & Overy to join Japanese Big Four, and has experience in advising corporations, investment banks, hedge funds, and private equity firms on a a diverse range of transactions in the US and throughout Asia: including Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, the PRC, India, Indonesia, the Philippines and Singapore.

*K&L Gates has appointed Sergey J Milanov as a corporate partner in the firm's Tokyo office. Milanov joins from Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe. He has a broad corporate and finance practice that focuses on Japanese clients investing and doing business in Russia, encompassing M&A, joint ventures, and project and trade finance transactions, in addition to advising on foreign currency, banking, and other regulatory issues of Russian law.

*Simmons & Simmons (Tokyo) expanded its projects with the lateral hire of Hogan Lovells projects lawyer Simon Barrett to join the firm as a partner with immediate effect. Barrett was previously a senior associate in the infrastructure and project finance group at Hogan Lovells Tokyo, and was based there from October 2004 to July 2006.

MAY

*K&L Gates has expanded its Tokyo office with the recent addition of ten lawyers from Clifford Chance. Partners Keiji Asaji, Atushi Yamashita and Naoki Watanabe will make the move to K&L Gates, along with counsels Noriko Annen, Tsuguhito Omagari, Noriaki Tanimoto, and Junko Okawa, as well as three associates. The move will bolster K&L Gates services in their Tokyo office, as the various partners bring experience in civil and commercial disputes work, securities and banking matters, FCPA and antitrust issues, as well as various corporate and transactional work.

JUNE

*Nishimura & Asahi, Japanese law firm, has set plans to open a second firm in Vietnam.  Expecting to open an office in Hanoi later this year, the firm has applied to the Vietnamese Ministry of Justice for a license to do so.  This would be the firm's third international location, following its openings in Ho Chi Minh City and Beijing this past year.

*Norton Rose's Australian partner Michael Joyce will move to the firm's Tokyo office.  Joyce has great experience advising on the energy, resources and infrastructure sectors, specifically power & mining, on M&A, oil & gas, LNG, as well as joint ventures & commercial transactions.

* Clifford Chance has added Yasuyuki Takayama, former senior associate at Nagashima Ohno & Tsunematsu, to its Tokyo team. Takayama began his career at NO & T and then moved to the Bank of Japan as an in-house counsel.

SINGAPORE

JANUARY

*White & Case LLP has strengthened its global project finance expertise with the appointment of Ken Hawkes as a partner in the firm's Singapore office. Hawkes, who joins from Hogan Lovells LLP where he was head of the firm's banking and finance practice in Singapore, has 16 years' experience in project finance, with specific expertise in negotiating, structuring and documenting complex financing transactions in the oil and gas, power, resources and telecommunications industries.

FEBRUARY

*Rajah & Tann has kicked off 2011 in growth mode by strengthening its partner count with added capabilities in construction & projects, capital markets, business finance & insolvency and litigation. Business finance partners Lynette Koh and Nigel Pereira, commercial litigation partner Wendy Low Wei Ling, corporate & capital markets partner Soh Chai Lih together with construction and projects partner Ho Chye Hoon were included in the latest round of partner promotions. Two North Asian lawyers, litigator Nathan Lau and Shanghai representative lawyer Yu Zheng have crossed over to join Rajah & Tann as a partner and international counsel respectively. According to last year's ALB 50 largest firms ranking published Oct 2010, Rajah & Tann is the fourth largest firm in Singapore with 253 partners and the 33rd largest firm in the Asia Pacific region.

JUNE

*Jones Day has appointed Carolyn McNabb, who formerly worked at Sidley Austin, to its investment funds practice in Singapore. McNabb will be the fifth lawyer on the firm's Singapore investment funds team. She specializes in asset disposition, M & A, fund formation and capital raising.

*Mayer Brown JSM is opening up their 8th Asian office, this time in Singapore. Kevin Owen, currently head of the firm's Asia construction and engineering group, will be moving from Hong Kong to run the practice. They plan to launch the office later this year.

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