Perkins Coie has closed its Taiwan office. The combined effects of increased competition and a slowdown in its traditional technology client base have forced the US firm to assess its strategy for the region.
Now relieved of its first office in the region, the firm will instead direct resources to Hong Kong and Beijing. Local managing partner Paul McKenzie conceded that in addition to a drop in business in Taiwan, a number of departures from the Taipei office during the past year put additional pressure on the firm to consider its position. Perkins Coie was left reeling by the decision of former office head Sui-Yu Wu to join local practice Lee Tsai & Partners in October. A chain reaction ensued, with other lawyers following Wu to his new firm, culminating in partner Marcus Woo leaving for Jones Day Reavis & Pogue. The firm plans to concentrate its Asian efforts on budding IT markets in Hong Kong and China. McKenzie said: "Hong Kong and China have a lot of growth potential. The firm's refocusing its efforts on those markets." This strategy rethink will not involve lawyers from the Taiwan office, as none of them are understood to be joining the firm in either of its two remaining offices in the region. Having shed its Taiwan office, Perkins Coie will put down deeper roots in Hong Kong and China. McKenzie wants the Hong Kong office to gain local law status, enabling it to offer a full service on the ground. As one of only a small clutch of West Coast US firms in China, Perkins Coie is keen to strengthen its relatively young Beijing office. Officially opened in June, the office is headed by former Baker & McKenzie Beijing head Jon Eichelberger. McKenzie said that two more lawyers are expected to join the team of three currently based in China.