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Hong Kong drive: Addleshaws makes foray into local law two months after HK launch

Addleshaw Goddard’s objective to offer capability across the major disputes and arbitration centres has been given a boost by its launch today (8 August) of a local law practice in Hong Kong through a formal tie up with a newly established local firm led by partners from Minter Ellison and DLA Piper.

The new office will be led by former head of litigation and employment at Minter Ellison, Nigel Francis, and DLA Piper corporate partner Brett Stewien, who have practiced in Hong Kong for 25 and 14 years respectively.

Stewien, who was made partner at DLA’s Hong Kong office in 2011, has already started, while the starting date of Francis, a former legacy Herbert Smith partner who is qualified in both Hong Kong and England and Wales, is as yet unconfirmed.

Once approved by local authorities, thought to be after at least three years, the associated firm will be fully absorbed into Addleshaws and the duo will become full partners at the firm.

The news comes after the firm established an English law office in Hong Kong in May, the fifth international base for the firm, which has, in the last 18 months, launched in Dubai, Oman, Qatar and Singapore.

Managing partner Paul Devitt told Legal Business that the new practice forms part of the firm’s international strategy to open own offices in international arbitration centres.

‘Principally we could see initially a real opportunity in disputes and international arbitration, especially because with Dubai, Singapore and Hong Kong, we effectively cover all of the disputes and international arbitration centres, other than New York and Paris, and that feels very strong place to be,’ said Devitt.

‘We don’t think, however, that our opportunities are limited to disputes work. In the Gulf we’ve built out in Oman and Qatar additional corporate, commercial and financing capability, and clearly in Hong Kong we have corporate. We continue in those own offices that we’ve [already] established [making] additional investments and bringing in individuals that bring in other capabilities,’ Devitt added.

The new office will work in close partnership with the firm’s Singapore base, which is led by litigation partner Jamie Harrison, who joined Addleshaws from Winston & Strawn in 2009.

While the firm has no current plans to open elsewhere, Devitt said the firm is considering various models for international expansion, including exclusive relationships with local firms. Addleshaws currently has one such formal alliance with best friend firm Hashidate Law Office in Tokyo, which it entered into in June this year.

The move in Hong Kong comes as a number of international firms have boosted their local law practices, including Jones Day and DLA Piper, which last month hired Mayer Brown banking and finance partner Benjamin Sandstad.