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Quinn’s global master plan – elite disputes shop hits HK for third foreign launch of the year

Having only launched its first foreign office in 2008, US disputes leader Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan clearly now has the taste for foreign expansion. The latest stop on its global tour is Hong Kong, with the ultra-profitable litigation shop today (15 May) unveiling details of its long-awaited local launch, coming only days after it sealed a deal to enter the Australian legal market.

Quinn Emanuel has recruited senior arbitrator John Rhie, who joins as managing partner of the new office. The Seoul-based Rhie joins from South Korea’s top commercial law firm, Kim & Chang. Rhie, a former Herbert Smith partner, will relocate to Hong Kong as partner and chair the firm’s Asia international arbitration practice.

New York partner Carey Ramos will also join the new office to advise Quinn Emanuel’s Asian clients on litigation in the US and the EU, as well as develop the firm’s international arbitration practice across Asia. Ramos’s practice also covers intellectual property disputes, another core focus of the 600-lawyer firm.

Managing partner John Quinn said: ‘Rhie is a perfect fit for our international arbitration platform and our Asia strategy in particular. Carey brings a wealth of experience in representing Asian companies in complex business disputes.’

Previously, Stephen Jagusch, global chair of the firm’s international arbitration practice, told Legal Business the firm was keen to open in Hong Kong and indicated Singapore would be the next attractive location, as both are key jurisdictions for international arbitration. The firm has been making a concerted pitch to position itself as a leader in international arbitration, having recruited Jagusch last year from City giant Allen & Overy, where he co-headed the practice.

Jagusch commented: ‘John is the leading arbitration specialist of his generation in Asia and a first-rate lawyer. I could not think of a person better suited to help us build our Asian arbitration practice.’

Quinn Emanuel recruited two senior partners from Herbert Smith Freehills, Michael Mills and Michelle Fox, to lead its new office in Sydney. Australian-born Quinn Emanuel litigation partner James Webster will also join the Sydney branch, which is expected to open next month. The top 50 US law firm also launched a Paris branch earlier this year with the appointment of Shearman & Sterling arbitrator Philippe Pinsolle.

The Hong Kong and Sydney launches come amid an expansive period for the Los Angeles-bred law firm, which has stormed the global legal market over the last five years after sustaining sharp growth in income and profitability. Profits per equity partner for 2012 hit $4.4m, while revenues increased by 18% to $853m. The scale of its City ambitions were underlined by the recruitment in March of Herbert Smith Freehills partner Ted Greeno, one of the City’s most high profile litigators.