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Addleshaw Goddard seeks material Asia growth with former BLP region head hire

Addleshaw Goddard has brought in the former Asia head of legacy Berwin Leighton Paisner as it looks to triple the size of its presence in Asia.

Bob Charlton is joining Addleshaws after leaving BLP, now Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner (BCLP) following its US merger in February, where he was the legacy firm’s head of Asia since 2014. Charlton previously held a similar role for DLA Piper in the region.

Charlton will be based in Hong Kong and lead Addleshaws’ Asia Pacific practice, which operates in Hong Kong and Singapore and has slowly grown from one partner in 2012 to four now. The firm also has a formal alliance in Japan with Hashidate Law Office.

Managing partner John Joyce said Charlton’s leadership pedigree in the region was required as the firm looks to grow its presence in Asia. Disputes partner Nigel Francis, head of Asia for the previous four years, is returning to full-time work on his contentious practice, while Charlton will be a full-time leader in the role.

He told Legal Business: ‘We’ve got a presence in Asia: we’d like to grow it materially from where it is. So far we’ve been trying to do that through people doing their day jobs, and we just felt it needed a leadership role to give it the proper time and attention. It’s something that to do properly and to do well, you need to spend time at.’

Joyce said material growth in the region meant growing partner numbers to 12 or more. The focus will remain on Hong Kong and Singapore, however: ‘[We’d like to] get those to the right size and shape before we start looking elsewhere but if the right opportunity comes along elsewhere then absolutely we’d look at that.’

A BCLP spokesperson confirmed Charlton’s departure last week: ‘Having accomplished much for our Asia business and having successfully implemented our “One Asia” strategy, Bob Charlton has decided that now is a good point for him to seek a new challenge elsewhere, and has left the firm.’

Elsewhere, Addleshaw has recruited former Pilsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman Middle East practice co-leader Ahmad Anani as its Qatar office head. Anani is a corporate and capital markets specialist, and Addleshaws has now made nearly 20 lateral hires in 2018.

Joyce commented: ‘A lot of those people are starting to come around having been in discussions with us for 12, some of them even 18, months. We’re still seeing a huge amount of lateral activity… there’s a few more to land this year.’