Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson has decided to close its Hong Kong and Shanghai offices, leaving the US firm without an outpost in Asia.
The decision to exit the regions will affect 33 employees in total, of which all but one sit in the Hong Kong office. Those affected include Asia practice head and corporate partner Douglas Freeman as well as three additional partners, two counsel, eight associates and 18 support staff. In comparison, only one support staff is based in Shanghai with no fee-earners.
All of the employees are currently discussing their options in regards to relocating to other offices within the firm, although most are expected to enter redundancy consultations.
The firm still anticipates to service clients coming out of the region, having retained its licence to work in Shanghai and exploring its licence options in Hong Kong. Also to this end the two offices will be replaced by a service centre based in Hong Kong – the details of which are being discussed at present – and will most likely house other fee-earners within the firm that offer advice to clients in the region.
The firm launched an office in Shanghai in October 2007, after having marked its territory in Hong Kong in December 2006 with a nine-partner team hire from the Hong Kong and Shanghai offices of UK top-20 firm Simmons & Simmons including its China managing partner Huen Wong. Wong served as the firm’s managing partner in Asia from 2006 until 2011 and was most recently a consultant to the firm for litigation in Hong Kong and Shanghai.
The firm’s Hong Kong and Shanghai offices were the firm’s only presence in Asia, leaving the firm with five offices in New York, Washington DC, London, Paris and Frankfurt.