Chadbournes foreign ventures hit by closures and defections

US firm Chadbourne & Parke has closed its Singapore office and reorganised its Hong Kong practice in the wake of the Asian financial crisis.

At the same time, it has sent New York capital markets partner William Greason and project finance counsel Lynne Gedanken to London to relaunch the office there which has been hit by a flood of defections of UK lawyers.

It is thought that many of the firm's US-based partners involved in profitable domestic litigation are not keen to see investment in project finance work overseas.

Over the past few months the firm has recalled Hong Kong-based projects counsel Jack Welch and leading projects partner Rigdon Boykin to New York.

In their place the firm has sent out insolvency partner Theodore Zink to help the firm pick up Thai and Korean corporate restructuring work. Singapore resident partner Bruce Rader and his two assistants will also be relocated to the Hong Kong office.

Charles O'Neill, operations partner, said: “As the amount of deal work has slowed in the Far East, it seemed to make sense to consolidate operations in Hong Kong.”

In May, Chadbournes lost its last English law qualified partner Ian Johnson when he left to join the London office of US rival Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe.

Sources alleged that Chadbourne's US partners were not sufficiently committed to the London venture.

The firm is now trying to change that perception. Greason, aged 37, said: “The firm is showing its real commitment to London by sending over a young partner and counsel who are real workers.”

He admitted that “in the past the firm didn't do enough to integrate people”, but from now on the London office would be an integrated part of the Chadbourne & Parke partnership.