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US firm Debevoise & Plimpton is to expand its Asian disputes and investigations capabilities by relocating three lawyers to Hong Kong and upping the time spent in Asia by two key litigation partners from London and New York.
London-based partner Peter Goldsmith, the former UK Attorney General, will regularly attend the Hong Kong office as chair of European and Asian litigation, while New York-based partner Christopher Tahbaz will spend up to half of his time in Hong Kong to lead the firm’s initiative as co-chair of Asian litigation.
Three litigators will permanently relocate to the firm’s Hong Kong office to provide a greater on-the-ground presence, including New York counsel Philip Rohlik, who has experience leading matters in China and throughout Asia, and two associates.
The firm already has a track record of advising Asian clients in international disputes, white-collar investigations, regulatory and compliance matters. Driven by growing client demand and emerging opportunities in the region, it has decided to put a litigation team in Hong Kong for the first time.
“Over the last several years, we’ve handled many matters in Asia even without a dedicated team in Hong Kong. But we’ve now come to believe the time is right for us to establish a litigation team on the ground,” said Tahbaz. “We aim to have a sufficient presence in our Hong Kong office, where we can work side by side with existing clients in their own time zones on a regular basis and where our team can provide a first point of contact for new clients in the region.”
The firm’s Hong Kong-based litigation team will particularly focus on serving clients in Asia in international commercial and treaty arbitration, English and US commercial litigation, internal investigations, and defence and advice in matters involving US and UK regulatory statutes including the FCPA, UK Bribery Act, anti-money-laundering statutes and other similar laws.
“The legal market in Asia is expanding significantly. A substantial and growing matter of concern for clients in the region has been focusing on anti-corruption and white-collar compliance,” said Goldsmith. “International arbitration is another area where we see more client demand and major developments in Asia. There’s a great increase in interest of using arbitration among Asian clients. Several new rules for arbitration in key jurisdictions, combined with the growing popularity of major arbitration institutions in Singapore and Hong Kong will generate more arbitration work for us.”
Apart from the three litigation lawyers relocating to China, the firm has 15 lawyers, including three partners, in its Hong Kong and Shanghai offices. Its litigation department has about 250 lawyers, including 45 partners, around the world.