Herbert Smith redeploys Hong Kong associates amid IPO slump

Herbert Smith has been forced to second Hong Kong associates to clients, other practice areas and offices following the cliff-dive in capital markets work in the region.

A source at Herbert Smith told The Lawyer that fee-earners in Hong Kong had been shifted to more active practice areas, like disputes, to clients of the firm, and even moved to other offices in the region. The Lawyer has also been informed of three corporate associates leaving the Hong Kong practice, but Herbert Smith would not comment on individual cases save to confirm that it had not made any redundancies in Asia.

“We’ve made nobody redundant in Hong Kong and there are no planned redundancies anywhere in Asia,” said a Herbert Smith spokesperson. “In response to the current low levels of activity in capital markets in China, we obviously have to ensure our resourcing levels are aligned to market demand. They include client secondments and reassigning resources to other practice areas.

“This is entirely prudent and good business practice. In addition, a small number of people have left the firm who we didn’t immediately replace as we have four new qualifiers starting later this year.”

News of Herbert Smith’s steps to keep fee-earners active in the depressed IPO market in Asia follows that of Clifford Chance, which has asked capital markets associates in its Singapore office to take voluntary sabbaticals until the end of the year, on a lower salary, amid the slump in work (20 September 2012).