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Simmons to step up dispute resolution work in Asia; group of ten to join team
Simmons & Simmons has almost doubled the size of its Hong Kong dispute resolution department by raiding Masons' office in the region. The firm has hired senior resident partner Robert Lewington and fellow partner Wanda Tong, who have brought eight other fee-earners with them. Huen Wong, Simmons' managing partner for the China region, said: "Robert and Wanda have tremendous experience in commercial litigation and insurance practices. Robert is also one of the most highly-respected employment lawyers in Hong Kong. With him and Fiona Loughrey, we now have the two top employment lawyers together." The move sees Tong return to the firm she trained with. She was articled to Wong 10 years ago. Wong said that negotiations with the two partners proceeded smoothly because they were good friends of his. He said that in addition to the personal fit, the Masons partners had experience that matched Simmons' requirements. He explained that since setting up a new dispute resolution department, the firm had been on the lookout for suitable candidates at partner level. According to Wong, Lewington and Tong will bring clients with them, but he was unable to disclose names. He said: "Our target first and foremost is to build the team." The arrival of Lewington, Tong and eight fee-earners almost doubles Simmons' dispute resolution department. The expanded group will total four partners and 23 fee-earners. Headed by partner Philip Nunn, the department intends to capitalise on the predicted boom in international trade disputes following China's entry to the World Trade Organisation. Dean Lewis has filled the breach at Masons, becoming the new senior resident partner in Hong Kong. The office was said to be concentrating on four key areas - IT, energy, infrastructure and construction and engineering. Neither Lewington nor Tong, as specialists in other fields, were essential to this new focus. Masons senior partner John Bishop said: "Robert and Wanda have specialised in insurance, employee claims and personal injury-related dispute work, which does not fit closely with our strategy in the Far East. Accordingly, they've decided that they can better develop this area of practice with Simmons." Masons' Hong Kong base now has seven partners and 38 assistants.