Davis Polk aims to steal a march in Hong Kong with UK talent

Wall Street titan Davis Polk & Wardwell ­ruffled a few British feathers last week when it launched a twin raid on the magic circle and the cream of the UK’s student talent.

In both moves the blue-blood firm ­confirmed its liking not only for Hong Kong, but also for Anglo-Saxon institutions.

First, the news broke that Davis Polk had snared Linklaters Beijing head and former Slaughter and May partner Paul Chow for its Hong Kong office.

The move that will see him join Antony Dapiran, the former managing partner of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer’s Beijing office, who joined Davis Polk in August as it launched a domestic law practice in Hong Kong.

Then, as The Lawyer’s student-focused ­sister publication Lawyer 2B revealed, the US firm admitted that it has begun scouring UK ­universities for trainees to join its growing Hong Kong practice.

The fact that Bonnie Chan, formerly of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange until she too joined Davis Polk along with Dapiran, found time to put in an appearance at the 13 ­November law fair in Oxford – while still on gardening leave – underlines the commitment the US firm is making to snaring the UK’s top law students.

But it appears the latter move is not as novel as it might seem.

“Davis Polk’s recruited Irish students to train as US lawyers and has also recruited from the top Australian universities and firms for its office in New York,” says Sloane Poulton of SR Search. “So for the firm to come to ­London to seek out top students for its Hong Kong office isn’t such a huge leap in terms of this strategy.”

It is called lateral thinking.