Asia moves: 16 December

All the latest partner hires and other appointments within firms and offices in the Asia Pacific region.


Herbert Smith Freehills has promoted three lawyers to partner in its employment, pensions and incentives (EPI) practice in Sydney. The new partners are Michael Gonski, Sonia Millen and Drew Pearson. Gonski focuses on senior executive issues, the employment aspects of M&A transactions and employment litigation. Millen and Pearson’s practices both focus on the areas of industrial relations, general employment and diversity law. The promotions come after five partners left the firm to set up US firm employment firm Seyfarth Shaw’s Sydney office in June 2013 (11 June 2013).

Hong Kong

Bingham McCutchen has promoted Hong Kong corporate lawyer Charles Rogers to partner, as part of its recent 10-lawyer global promotion round. Rogers advises mainly on cross-border deals, debt and equity investment, corporate finance and restructuring transactions. The promotions are effective on 1 January 2014.

Stephenson Harwood has strengthened its Hong Kong litigation practice with the hire of seasoned litigation partner Giovanna Kwong, who joins from King & Wood Mallesons’ Hong Kong office. Kwong was a partner of legacy SJ Berwin’s Hong Kong office and was a member of the SJ Berwin team moved to King & Wood Mallesons’ Hong Kong office when the two firms combined in November. Duel qualified in Hong Kong and in England and Wales, she has practised in each of the jurisdictions for over a decade.

Withers has added three lawyers to its Asian wealth planning practice. The firm has relocated London-based lawyer Karen Lai to Hong Kong and hired associates Suzanne Johnston and Connie Yik Kong for its Singapore office, which was opened in 2012. Johnston has six years of experience practising in London while Kong is a US qualified lawyer with practice experience in New York. The three additions push the firm’s wealth planning practice in Asia to 16 lawyers.


Simmons & Simmons has added energy partner Damian Adams to its newly opened Singapore office. Adams joins from Watson Farley & Williams’ Singapore office, where he was a partner and worked for over a decade. Adams regularly handles cross-border transactions and commercial matters for clients in the mining, energy and shipping sectors. He is the fifth partner in Simmons & Simmons’ Singapore office.


Hunton & Willams’ Bangkok office has hired former Herbert Smith Freehills senior consultant Apichart Phankeasorn as head of Thai litigation practice. Phankeasorn was previously based in HSF’s Bangkok office and is experienced in banking, commercial, employment and white-collar criminal litigation matters at all levels of the Thai courts. Before joining HSF in 2011, he was a partner with Mayer Brown JSM in Bangkok for 12 years. The firm’s Bangkok office now has around 50 lawyers.


Vietnamese firm VILAF has hired corporate partner Kevin Hawkins from Mayer Brown JSM, where he was also a partner. Based in Ho Chi Minh City, Hawkins focuses on advising multinational companies on corporate matters and M&A transactions. He is qualified in the US and has practised law for five years in the US and ten years in Vietnam. He is the 12th partner of VILAF.