US FIRM Bryan Cave is to open offices in Hong Kong and Beijing in a bid to break into the Far East.
The firm has also announced the election of Walter Metcalfe as the firm's new chairman and Mark Hillis as managing partner. The appointments are effective immediately.
Partners Peabody Hutton and Michael Morgan will staff the Hong Kong office, while a third partner is to take up permanent residence in Beijing in January next year.
The Chinese office will be a joint venture with the Beijing Foreign Economic Law Office (BFELO), a Chinese firm with 40 lawyers.
The move is the result of talks between Bryan Cave and Chinese authorities.
Hutton has been practising in Hong Kong for 15 years, specialising in contract negotiations. Morgan was based in St Louis and prior to that in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. He specialises in international transactions, acquisitions and se- curities.
BFELO was set up in 1983 when China began its long programme of economic liberalisation, and exists mainly to encourage joint-venture projects.
The firm is also expanding its London office by taking on more US lawyers. Currently the firm has 475 fee-earners worldwide.