US firm Paul Hastings Janofsky & Walker has secured its first Hong Kong and China presence by merging with local firm Koo and Partners
For clients doing business in China, local legal capability is essential and the move gives Paul Hastings 250 Koo and Partners lawyers at its disposal. Paul Hastings chairman Seth Zachary said: "China occupies a prominent place in the business plans of many of our institutional clients." Zachary said that China's membership in the World Trade Organisation and predicted legislative changes will bring investment opportunities. He said that having local lawyers on board will help make sense of these changes. Koo and Partners' Hong Kong practice will now operate under the Paul Hastings brand, while the Beijing office will be known as Koo and Partners in association with Paul Hastings. Founding partner Donald Koo will head both offices. Should the Chinese authorities permit it, the Beijing office will eventually be known by the US firm's name. Koo and Partners was set up in 1992 to service the banking and finance community. Koo said: "We'll realign our practice with Paul Hastings' strategic direction to concentrate on the corporate, commercial and banking sectors, and will soon be actively recruiting professionals to bolster those practice areas." The merged firm has already suffered one partner defection. Anthony Chan joined Barlow Lyde & Gilbert's Hong Kong office. Finance specialist Chan has been based in Hong Kong since he left Clifford Chance for Baker & McKenzie in 1992. Barlow's senior partner Richard Dedman said: "Anthony's skills and client base will be of great value in developing the non-contentious side of our practice in Hong Kong and Shanghai."