SJ Berwin changes focus with Hong Kong launch

SJ Berwin has hired Dewey & LeBoeuf’s joint Hong Kong chief to spearhead the launch of its first Asian office.

SJ Berwin has hired Dewey & LeBoeuf’s joint Hong Kong chief to spearhead the launch of its first Asian office.

Consultant Daniel Liew will become SJ Berwin’s Aisa managing partner. He will be joined by commercial partner Peter Tse, who also joined the firm from Dewey last year, real estate partner Hans Thomas Kessler and partner Giovanna Kwong.

The move is a significant change of direction for SJ Berwin, which has marketed itself as a European law firm.

Managing partner Ralph Cohen commented: “We’re moving from being a European law firm to being an international law firm.”

The firm’s senior partner Jonathan Blake added that China and East Asia were “huge and critical markets for the future” of the firm.

The Hong Kong office will focus on fund formation, private equity, real estate, infrastructure and litigation work.

It marks a change in direction for SJ Berwin, which in the past has concentrated on strengthening its European presence following its merger with German alliance firm Kopf Tulloch Steiniger in 2005.

Last November SJ Berwin formed a best friend relationship with three US firms – New York’s Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison, Silicon Valley’s Cooley Godward Kronish and Boston-headquartered Goodwin Procter – in a bid to up its global presence (3 November 2008).