Majoring in Asia

The beauty of an international profession like law is that things are never dull. As the sun sets in one market, it rises in another.

As the UK and Europe slow to a virtual standstill, with the movers and shakers of the profession disappearing for a couple of weeks of well-earned rest, activity in China and Hong Kong is hotting up.

Davis Polk & Wardwell has launched a domestic law practice in Hong Kong, hiring the former managing partner of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer’s Beijing office and the senior vice president of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange (see story)

Mayer Brown has also beefed up in Asia, adding partners in Beijing and Hong Kong from US rivals Winston & Strawn and Sidley Austin (see story)

And earlier this month Gibson Dunn & Cruchter launched a Hong Kong office with a lawyer from General Electric International (see story)

Could it be that US firms have chosen the sleepy month of August to usurp the UK as the leaders in Hong Kong? At least one reader of thinks so: “This is a further sign of a sea change in the HK legal market after Latham’s raid on A&O.

The US white shoe firms have heretofore let the magic circle dominate HK-law practice. Not anymore. That [Davis Polk] poached a managing partner of Freshfields’ China office no less is a sign that they mean business.”

They said it.