HSF loses Hong Kong disputes boss to Linklaters

Herbert Smith Freehills’ (HSF) Asia disputes head Gavin Lewis is set to leave the firm for Linklaters.

It is not known when Lewis, who will remain in Hong Kong, will join the magic circle firm. He has been based in Hong Kong since 1998, having joined legacy Herbert Smith’s London base in 1996. He spent two years away from the firm between 2006 and 2008, when he headed the Asia-Pacific litigation and regulatory function for UBS in Hong Kong. 

According to various sources Linklaters is not on a huge recruitement drive in Asia, however the hire is “not regarded as a surprise” given Lewis’s specialism.  

The move is another blow to HSF’s disputes practice. In April another magic circle firm, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, lured a HSF partner out of the Hong Kong office for its Asia dispute resolution practice (22 April 2013).

London exits have included Ted Greeno, who quit for US firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan (27 March 2013), London corporate fraud and asset tracing head Simon Bushell, who moved to Latham & Watkins (7 February 2013), and Kevin Lloyd, who exited for Debevoise & Plimpton (5 December 2012).

Legacy Herbert Smith partners voted on a full financial merger with Australia’s Freehills in June 2012 (21 June 2012), with the combined firm launching in October. Legacy Herbert Smith required 75 per cent approval from partners while Freehills required 85 per cent.  

Linklaters declined to comment on the move. HSF thanked Lewis for his contribution to the firm.