One small step for US law firms

Americans like to do things first. First to land on the moon, first to invent peanut butter and first to invent the lightbulb. So it makes sense that US law firms want to get in there, too.

Take Sidley Austin, which has become the first firm to benefit from the imminent closure of Vinson & Elkins’ (V&E) Shanghai office by picking up energy partner Tju Liang Chua. V&E had only announced plans to close its Shanghai base the week before, citing the rationale of concentrating more of its mainland Chinese resources in Beijing.

So there we go. But in this market, we can’t all be first. The co-chair of Willkie Farr & Gallagher’s restructuring department is understood to have visited the UK 15 times while trying to find his first UK-qualified restructuring partner for London. It might have taken longer than expected, but he got there in the end, hiring longstanding Kirkland & Ellis partner Graham Lane.

No moon landing or lightbulb launching here, but you get the gist.

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