US firm Chadbourne & Parke has closed its Beijing office, leaving the firm with no physical presence in Asia.
The New York-headquartered firm pulls out of China 15 years after it opened in the country’s capital (3 July 2000). The Beijing office had always been a small operation and at the time of the closure it was a one-lawyer team on the ground, according to the firm.
The closure happened just over a year after Chabourne hired former head of legal at Peabody Energy Li Hong as a non-equity partner in Beijing. It is unclear where Li is moving to.
“We decided a number of months ago to close our one-lawyer office in Beijing,” said a spokesperson. “Our focus has always been on outbound work from China, and it continues to present interesting opportunities for our US and emerging markets practices.”
“We have chosen to focus our growth, therefore, on our international network and market-leading practices in those regions around the world that are of interest to both our Chinese and global client base. For example, we recently opened an office in Johannesburg and have added seven energy lawyers in London in the last year,” the spokesperson added.
Chadbourne & Parke joins a growing group of international firms that have recently reduced their presence in Asia. In January, Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson decided to close its Hong Kong and Shanghai offices (19 January 2015). In 2013, US firm Vinson & Elkins closed its Shanghai office (12 July 2013).
However, Chadbourne has a long history of battling for survival with its Asia operation. At one point in the 1990s, the firm had offices in Singapore and Hong Kong but both were closed in 1998 following the 1997 Asia financial crisis (15 September 1998). More recently, it closed its Almaty office in 2012 after the entire local team left to join Dechert (5 April 2012).
Following the Beijing closure, the firm currently has no presence in Asia.