Freshfields ex-China chief ‘frustrated’ by US strategy

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer

‘s former China managing partner Mike Moser has taken a parting shot at the magic circle firm for its failure to build a viable US operation.

Speaking to The Lawyer about his departure, Moser said he decided to join O’Melveny & Myers because it had more US clients and a larger US base – an important factor given US investment in China.

“I enjoyed my time at Freshfields, but to be honest I’d become frustrated by the lack of a US platform at the firm,” he said. “There was always a lot of talk, but it never realised itself. It’s frustrating because the US is the biggest investor in China.”

Moser retired from the Freshfields partner- ship in January to take the role of co-head of O’Melveny’s China practice alongside Howard Chao.

The comments come after Freshfields’ new co-senior partner Guy Morton boldly announced to The Lawyer (30 January) that he was aiming to achieve a US merger before the end of his five-year term.

Moser said Freshfields was unlikely to achieve a US merger in the near future.

“I just felt it would take too long,” he said. “I doubt it will happen in my career.”

Moser said O’Melveny was committed to expanding significantly in China and Hong Kong.

“O’Melveny is determined to build the biggest platform in China,” he said. “During the next three months we’ll be taking on three teams of lawyers in securities and private equity and we’re going to be beefing up further, especially in Hong Kong.”

Freshfields declined to comment.