Ropes & Gray prepares to offer Hong Kong law advice with local hires

Ropes & Gray has hired two Hong Kong partners in preparation for the launch of its Hong Kong law practice on 28 May.

Julian Chung and Gary Li join from Norton Rose and Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison, where they were a partner and counsel respectively.

Chung, who is dual-qualified in Hong Kong and England and Wales, focuses on equity capital markets and M&A transactions. He has been a partner in Norton Rose’s Hong Kong office since 2005 after a short stint at US firm Perkins Coie, which closed its Hong Kong office in March 2005 (13 December 2004). Prior to joining Perkins Coie in 2003, he was a founding partner of Chao & Chung, a specialist corporate finance and advisory firm in Hong Kong established in 1994.

Li is admitted to practise law in New York and is experienced in China-related corporate work. He joined Paul Weiss’s New York office in 2001 and in 2007 transferred to Hong Kong, where he has been a member of the corporate and China practice groups. He was promoted to counsel in 2011.

The new partner appointments come after the firm’s Hong Kong office received approval from the Hong Kong Law Society to convert into a Hong Kong solicitors’ firm, which can offer Hong Kong law advice.

“The launch of our Hong Kong law practice is a direct response to our clients’ request,” said Hong Kong partner Michael Nicklin. “Over the past four years, the Hong Kong office has acted on a number of large transactions for our global and regional clients, who have told us that they want us to increase our capabilities in Hong Kong.

“We’ve adopted a slightly different strategy from other US firms. We’ve been growing organically and building up our practice on existing global client relationships. There’s been an increasing level of work in the past 12 months and we’re responding to it.”

Ropes & Gray’s Hong Kong office opened in 2008 and currently has seven partners and 22 lawyers. The firm is expecting to open its fourth Asia office, in Seoul, later this year, subject to regulatory approval (6 March 2012).