Baker Botts hires White & Case star for new HK base

Houston-based Baker Botts has raided White & Case to appoint a partner for its brand new Hong Kong office.

White & Case’s former practice head for China John Kuzmik has joined Baker Botts together with Herbert Smith energy partner David Renton.

The new office, which was launched officially last Friday (6 May), will be headed by Baker Botts partner David Powers, who will relocate from Houston to Hong Kong.

Baker Botts’ plans to launch a Hong Kong office, first revealed by The Lawyer (29 March), follow a number of other firms downsizing significantly in Asia or pulling out of the region altogether.

During his time at White & Case, Kuzmik helped the firm to win a licence from the Chinese Ministry of Justice to launch a second office on the mainland.

Kuzmik’s departure is a further blow to White & Case’s Hong Kong office, which has already lost two partners since the start of the year: in March the US firm lost insolvency partner Neil McDonald to Lovells’ Hong Kong office, while in February litigation partner Robin Darton left White & Case to join four-partner Hong Kong-based firm Tanner De Witt.

McDonald and Darton were part of the team that was embroiled in the lengthy court battle over its departure from Deacons. The two lawyers joined White & Case along with insolvency and restructuring partners Mark Fairbairn and Edward Cairns, as well as Jeremy Leifer, in 2002.

A White & Case spokes-person confirmed Kuzmik’s resignation and thanked him for his help in developing the China practice.