Baker Botts bucks Asian trend with HK opening

Houston-based Baker Botts is gearing up to launch its first Asian office.

Houston-based Baker Botts is gearing up to launch its first Asian office.

Stuart Schaffer, the chair of Baker Botts’ global projects practice, confirmed that the firm is in the advanced planning stages of opening a Hong Kong office. He added that the move still has to be approved by the executive committee and then by a partnership vote.

Baker Botts’ plan to launch a Hong Kong office follows a number of firms either significantly downsizing in Asia or pulling out of the region altogether.

As first revealed on Lawyer News Weekly (8 December 2004), Seattle-based firm Perkins Coie shut the doors on its 12-year-old Hong Kong office following a strategic review.

Meanwhile, Denton Wilde Sapte, Dorsey & Whitney and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer all scaled back their presences in Asia last year.

Schaffer said: “We’re very aware that other firms have exited Hong Kong, Singapore and other Asian markets. We’ll initially focus on energy work and I think that differentiates us from other firms.”

He added that, although the firm’s current planning relates to opening in Hong Kong, it is also very interested in the Chinese mainland.

Schaffer declined to comment on how the new office will be staffed.