The Lawyer revealed that Clifford Chance became the first UK firm to open in Indonesia. Local laws prevented foreign firms setting up independently. Accordingly, Clifford Chance formed an alliance with Mochtar Karuwin & Komar (MKK), a prominent Jakarta firm.
Alex Jackson was seconded to MKK from Clifford Chance's Vietnam office to act as a liaison between Clifford Chance's clients and MKK.
MKK is a commercial finance practice which handles many equity and debt-restructuring transactions. The firm's client base includes American Express, Chase Manhattan, Merrill Lynch and Salomon Smith Barney.
Fears were in evidence regarding the political instability in the region and the weak Asian economy. Jackson, the only Clifford Chance lawyer in Jakarta, admits that those fears have been borne out: recently times have been hard and legal work and project financing have tailed off.
Maurice Allen abandons Weil Gotshal & Manges
In a shock move, Maurice Allen quit Weil Gotshal & Manges, triggering a full-scale exodus from the firm's banking department.
After three months gardening leave, Allen joined White & Case as head of banking (The Lawyer, 1 May 2000). He has since been joined by seven partners and nine associates, all of whom followed him out of Weil Gotshal. Managing partner Nick Holt also left to fill the same role at KLegal. After the fallout, James Chesterman, who replaced Allen as head of banking at Weil Gostshal, went to Latham & Watkins.
Since Allen's arrival at White & Case, the banking department has been bolstered by around 40 associates and 10 partners.
The number of UK lawyers in Weil Gotshal's London office has increased from 80 to 125. The firm has been involved in a number of major financing transactions recently, including Lehman Brothers' management bid for Burford Holdings and the Chase Manhattan and Barclays financing of the Memec acquisition.
Denton Wilde hit by Tokyo collapse
Most of Denton Hall's Tokyo office jumped ship to Herbert Smith days before the merger of Denton Hall and Wilde Sapte on 1 February 2000. The exodus enabled Herbert Smith to set up its first Tokyo operation.
The merged firm retained a presence in the region, but only through Wilde Sapte's outpost. The collapse of the Denton Hall office followed hard on the heels of the demise of Wilde Sapte's Hong Kong office in December 1999.
The Herbert Smith operation recently launched a new dispute resolution practice that has been acting for Japan Railways on a purchase by Vodafone of a stake in Japan Telecoms.
Meanwhile, Denton Wilde Sapte's Tokyo office now has two senior equity partners and 10 fee-earners and concentrates on banking, finance and corporate work.