Walk and talk

Herbies scotches redundancy whispers as three HK lawyers leave

Word of three associates leaving Herbert Smith’s Hong Kong office surfaced last week and rivals were quick to blame the slowdown in capital markets.

Following news on 20 September that Clifford Chance had asked its capital markets associates in Singapore to take voluntary sabbaticals until the end of the year it must have seemed like a sensible assumption – and that’s without recourse to the readily observable cliff-dive in the number of IPOs on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

Herbert Smith, however, was clear that it had not made any redundancies, nor does it have any plans to do so. That said, the firm has been doing what it can to make sure there are no lawyers twiddling their thumbs in Hong Kong. A Herbert Smith source told The Lawyer that that fee-earners in Hong Kong were being seconded to clients, shifted to its more active disputes practice and even moved to other offices.

“We have made nobody redundant in Hong Kong and there are no planned redundancies anywhere in Asia,” said a spokesperson. “In response to low levels of activity in capital markets in China we have to ensure our resourcing levels are aligned to market demand. They include client secondments and reassigning resources to other practice areas.

“This is entirely prudent and good business practice. In addition, a small number of people have left the firm who we did not immediately replace as we have four new qualifiers starting later this year.”