MoFo hires China practice head for Hong Kong office

Morrison & Foerster (MoFo) has gained a new China practice head from Deacons Graham & James.

Sally Harpole, formerly co-chair of the China Trade and Investment Department at Deacons Graham, joins MoFo’s Hong Kong office.

Pamela Reed, co-managing partner for operations at MoFo, says: “Sally has such a prestige and knowledge of the China market that she’s completely comfortable in that environment. She speaks the languages perfectly and has been there for many years. She’s quite a remarkable person.”

The move comes in preparation for China’s entry into the World Trade Organisation, which will open up trade links on a global scale. Morrison & Foerster’s Far East presence offers support to US, Asian and European client transactions in Hong Kong, and also advises Asian companies on their dealings in the US.

Harpole has extensive experience in all aspects of Chinese law, and in 1985 served as the president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Beijing.

This latest appointment is part of MoFo’s current drive to boost its China practice, which has been prompted by the relaxation of the investment markets in the region.

Pamela Reed says: “We have a very strong presence in Asia already, and it’s just an increased commitment to that, and really to our global technology and finance strategy.”

The firm’s global technology and finance strategy includes a series of aggressive lateral hires of partners. These have included Wayne Pittaway from Clifford Chance Hong Kong, David Naylor from Weil Gotshal & Manges in London and Chris Noral from White & Case‘s Brussels office.

Other recent moves include the merger with Washington-based niche telecoms firm Gurman Blask & Freedman in March, and the doubling of lawyers over the last 18 months in its New York office. Now, though, MoFo is turning its attentions to Europe.

Robert Townsend, head of business at MoFo, says: “Europe is our next point of growth, and that’s why we’re starting to plough our resources into London and Brussels.

“If you look at the major UK magic circle firms, they’re still catering primarily to old economy clients. We’re catering to the new economy.”