Reed Smith’s Hong Kong arm loses three founding partners

Three partners have quit Reed Smith Richards Butler’s Hong Kong office to set up a new firm led by litigation veteran Chris Howse.

Howse, together with Hong Kong partners Kevin Bowers and Chris Williams, are leaving the firm to establish their own firm with effect from 1 January 2012.

All three partners worked at the Hong Kong arm of the legacy Richards Butler, which merged with Reed Smith on 1 January 2008, one year after the US firm merged with Richards Butler’s UK operations (22 October 2007).

Until recently, Howse was the senior partner of the Hong Kong office, a post he held since 1983. He is best known for maritime and commercial dispute resolution and has handled most types of dry shipping litigation along with a wide range of commercial disputes in Hong Kong courts and international arbitration in Asia. Howse also currently co-leads the firm’s professional indemnity group and medico-legal team.

Bowers is also an experienced litigator, with a particular focus on commercial and insurance cases. His focus is on professional indemnity, D&O liability and other general insurance and reinsurance related claims.

Williams specialises in corporate finance, M&A and restructurings. He also advises on corporate governance and compliance issues.

Prior to these partner departures, Reed Smith’s Hong Kong office also lost long-serving corporate partner Graham Winter to Gibson Dunn (3 November 2011), while heavyweight corporate partner David Norman retired earlier this year. Both Winter and Norman were Richards Butler Hong Kong partners.

It is understood that Reed Smith had been forced to strike a separate deal with the Richards Butler Hong Kong partnership to complete the 2008 merger. Under that deal, Richards Butler Hong Kong partners are thought to have been offered a three-year, seven-figure remuneration guarantee. The guarantee period ends this year.

Reed Smith London managing partner Roger Parker “We wish these three departing partners well. We still have a powerful 100-lawyer offering in Hong Kong.”