Asia has been a tough market recently, with US firms Blank Rome and Vinson & Elkins pulling out of Hong Kong and Shanghai respectively. But the moves have clearly had no adverse effect on their UK counterparts’ enthusiasm for the Far East.
Within a week, Addleshaw Goddard expanded its Hong Kong offering by entering into a local association and Hill Dickinson obtained approval to launch its Hong Kong office in association with a local firm. The moves come hot on the heels of Field Fisher Waterhouse’s tie-up with a three-partner Shanghai firm.
The expansion follows another challenging year at home, as The Lawyer’s UK 200 preview has shown. However just heading east in hope of success is not always successful. It takes a solid strategy to crack what is arguably one of the world’s toughest markets, and any firm driven overseas by a shrinking domestic market will find the going tough.
There are lessons to be learned from the US experience. Many American firms rushed into Asia following the 2008 global financial crisis and are now rethinking their presence there. The newcomers will have to invest significant time and effort to make sure the same does not happen to them.
Also on TheLawyer.com:
- China-based in-house counsel Sami Farhad says GlaxoSmithKline’s bribery row shows that lawyers need to consider their wider social role
- Singapore is building up its status as a global wealth management hub, and law firms are gearing up to serve the incoming clients
- And Zhong Lun international managing partner Robert Lewis concludes his series of blogs on Asian law firm rankings, looking at the changing shape of the China market