Eversheds Sutherland has recruited Slaughter and May litigation partner Mark Hughes in a rare departure for the Magic Circle firm.
Hughes acts on litigation cases in Hong Kong as well as the wider Asia-Pacific market, while also acting on international arbitration matters and cross-border investigations by criminal and regulatory authorities.
Eversheds managing partner for Asia, Stephen Kitts, told Legal Business the firm had been looking to add international arbitration capability in Hong Kong for a while, having slowly built an 18-strong disputes group there, including five partners. The firm opened in Hong Kong ten years ago with just six people, and had grown to about 145 – doubling over the last three years. ‘We’re a relatively young brand in Hong Kong and a bit of a challenger,’ he commented. ‘It’s been a bit of an iterative process but disputes are very important for the firm: we have a top-10 global practice by headcount.’
He added the firm, which last year hired ex-Securities and Futures Commission in-house counsel John Siu from Herbert Smith Freehills, was continuing to look to strengthen in disputes, particularly in international arbitration. ‘International arbitration has a club-like feel to it and we’re not really in the club yet. We regard Mark joining us as a very positive development, however, because of the fact we can attract someone of his calibre.’
Eversheds has made a number of other disputes plays in recent months. In July, the firm strengthened its City disputes bench with the hire of Claire Stockford as a partner from Scottish independent Shepherd and Wedderburn. Stockford’s hire boosted the disputes team to 28 partners in London. More recently, the firm also made arbitration hires in Paris, with Gaëlle Le Quillec and Julien Fouret joining from French boutique Betto Seraglini.
For Slaughters, the departure comes in a jurisdiction where the traditionally lateral-phobic firm has made moves over the last two years. In March, it hired Jing Chen as a partner from the Listing Division of Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing, while in April 2018, it hired investigations and litigation lawyer Wynne Mok to its Hong Kong office.