Simmons focuses on worldwide property with new HK group head

Simmons & Simmons is ramping up its property capability in Hong Kong as it pursues a worldwide property expansion strategy.

Winnie Lai, currently a partner at City firm Masons, is joining Simmons as a consultant and head of property in Hong Kong.
Lai specialises in project conveyancing, retail market conveyancing and advising landlords and tenants on property related matters in Hong Kong. She has advised on the property aspects of major commercial transactions in both Hong Kong and the People's Republic of China.
Alan Butler, head of property at Simmons, said the hire was part of a plan to build the practice internationally.

“This is part of a strategy to extend our international ability within the property department”
Alan Butler, Simmons & Simmons

Butler said: “Hong Kong needed to upgrade its property expertise anyway, but this is part of a strategy to extend our international ability within the property department. That means two things – to make sure each of our offices overseas has its own free-standing ability to deal with local law property work, and secondly, to make sure we have a transjurisdictional capability.”
Historically, the firm has had a strong construction and projects group in Hong Kong and a small property capability.
Butler said: “We have, for a long time, had a property capacity in Hong Kong, but the emphasis had gone off that and now we are determined to build it back up again.”
The firm has already successfully built up the practice in its Paris office, but newer offices such as Madrid and Germany are still in the process of growth.