Australian giant Mallesons Stephen Jaques is forging ahead with a merger with Kwok & Yih, despite the Hong Kong independent still appearing to be part of an accountancy firm alliance.
Corporate finance boutique Kwok & Yih signed with Ernst & Young’s legal arm EY Law in December last year after long negotiations. Prior to that, Kwok & Yih was a member of Andersen Legal’s network of law firms.
The merger with 1,000-lawyer Mallesons was announced last week (28 July). Kwok & Yih, which houses 28 lawyers and also has another office in Shanghai, would help the Australian practice achieve its aim to become a full-service firm in Hong Kong.
Due to go live from 1 October, Mallesons’ local presence will grow from eight partners and 25 fee-earners to a total of 61 lawyers in Hong Kong.
However, Mallesons is the second Australian firm that Kwok & Yih has had links with. The Hong Kong boutique was aligned with Australia’s Blake Dawson Waldron until early 2001, when Kwok & Yih decided to join up with Andersen Legal instead.
At this stage it is not known how the merger with Mallesons will affect Kwok & Yih’s relationship with EY Law. However, as part of the merger, Kwok & Yih partner Larry Kwok, who also became a representative of EY Law on 31 December, has been named managing partner of Mallesons’ Hong Kong and Chinese operation.
Mallesons’ current Hong Kong-based international managing partner Robert Milliner is predicted to return to Sydney to replace the firm’s outgoing chief executive partner Tony D’Aloisio.
D’Aloisio will leave in Octo-ber to become chief executive and managing director of the Australian Stock Exchange.