Paul Hastings, China


Paul Hastings Janofsky & Walker, China
Turnover: $75m (£38.1m) (Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong offices)
Total number of lawyers: 142
Total number of partners: 14 (seven in Hong Kong, four in Shanghai, three in Beijing)
Main practice areas: M&A, private equity, venture capital, capital markets, leveraged finance
Clients: Siemens, Morgan Stanley, HSBC, JPMorgan, UBS
Offices: Three
Locations: Beijing, Hong Kong, Shanghai

Paul Hastings Janofsky & Walker launched its China offices in quick succession, having established its first Asia presence in Tokyo in 1988.

This opening was followed quickly by the firm’s expansion into Hong Kong and Beijing in 2002 and the opening of its office in Shanghai a year later, in 2003.

“We opened the offices very quickly,” says head of the Hong Kong office Neil Torpey. “The investment and commitment we’ve made to the China offices is pretty enormous in that context. I think that, out of all of the US firms out here, we have one of the largest presences in Asia.”

The offices boast Siemens, Morgan Stanley, HSBC, JPMorgan and UBS as key clients. “Big financial institutions and private equity firms are the backbone of our practice,” says Torpey.

Torpey explains that “the core strengths” of Beijing and Shanghai are M&A, private equity, venture capital and real estate investment and finance law. The Hong Kong office focuses more on capital markets, M&A, private equity and leveraged finance work.

Last year the firm featured on a number of high-profile mandates, including representing Wal-Mart on the sale of its South Korean retail operations to Shinsegae Co and advising Morgan Stanley Private Equity (MSPE) on its $215m (£109.21m) equity investment in Rotem, part of the Hyundai Motor Group. The transaction represented MSPE’s largest equity investment in Asia to date.

Torpey is clear about the China offices’ strategy for 2007. “This year we’ll focus on representing big Chinese companies in connection with outbound investment all over the world,” he says. “As a firm we have a global footprint and we want to be positioned to work with Chinese companies as they become more and more international in their outlook.”

Recruitment into the China offices also remains a priority for Torpey. “We’re continuing to look for strong Hong Kong capital markets people and for more people in the private equity field,” he says.

This recruitment drive follows on from a busy year in 2006, during which the firm made a number of high-profile lateral hires in China. The Hong Kong office in particular dipped into a number of fellow US firms for talent, poaching acquisition finance specialists Alex Regan from Shearman & Sterling, Brett King from Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy and M&A specialist Basil Hwang from O’Melveny & Myers. All three have joined the firm’s Hong Kong office as partners.

The firm has already seen some recruitment into its China offices this year. Last month (January) the firm looked at the magic circle firms to boost its presence. Paul Hastings hired former Allen & Overy corporate partner Jacqueline Lim, who joined the firm’s Hong Kong office as a partner, and M&A specialist Adam Kearney joined the Beijing office as of counsel from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.

Torpey is also particularly keen to target native Chinese lawyers who have gone abroad to study and work before returning home.

“That is the paradigm of people that everyone out here is looking for and they’re very important to find,” he says.