Legal Business Blogs

Closing China: Cadwalader to pull out of Hong Kong and Beijing

Wall Street law firm Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft confirmed yesterday (29 September) it will close its Beijing and Hong Kong operations by the end of 2016, cutting 25 staff including four partners.

Stating that the firm is now keen on focusing on organic growth and lateral recruitment, managing partner Patrick Quinn said in an internal announcement yesterday morning that ‘while this impacts a relatively small group [of people], it was a very difficult decision.’

Latest in a string of big firms to pull out of China amid difficult market conditions, Cadwalader’s managing partner said the move is to allow the firm to concentrate on serving its core client base.

He said: ‘This is a very natural direction for us to take; Cadwalader is a quintessential Wall Street law firm and has always been defined by our core client groups: financial institutions, large corporates and funds. Our strategy, therefore, is to get deeper and broader in the practices that enable us to better serve these clients and where our clients look to Cadwalader for counsel.’

The internal document also states that a committee of partners including the management committee recently conducted a strategic analysis of the firm’s direction. Quinn stressed that Cadwalader is in a very solid financial position, with demand being up and on track for improved profitability compared with last year.

‘We have had some partners depart the firm, friends and colleagues all, and of course we wish them well. Each had their own reasons and each had to follow their own path. But there is so much to be proud of in all that we have accomplished together.’

In the City, Cadwalader grew its office by 17% last year, upping its head count to 56 lawyers. It recently added Bird & Bird dispute resolution co-head Steven Baker to its London office. In July it hired former King & Wood Mallesons’ Europe head of finance Jeremy Cross.