20:39, May 25 472 0 law.com

2017-05-25 20:39:05
Winston & Strawn Shutters Beijing, Taipei Offices
Winston & Strawn’s Washington, D.C. offices on K Street, NW.

Winston & Strawn has become the latest U.S. firm to reassess its role in Asia, as it has seen several attorneys in Hong Kong and Shanghai leave and has shuttered its offices in Beijing and Taipei.

The two offices closed in late 2016, and core lawyers were transferred to the firm’s two remaining Asian offices in Hong Kong and Shanghai. Senior intellectual property associate Gino Cheng moved to Hong Kong from Taipei. And several other lawyers, including former resident partner Horng-Dar Lin, have left the firm.

A Chicago-based representative said the consolidation enables the firm to operate more efficiently. But the firm remains committed to Asia and is focused on strategic recruiting, the representative said.

Winston & Strawn now has eight partners in Hong Kong and one partner in Shanghai. Several partners, including Shanghai-based former Asia employment head Matthew Durham, Shanghai corporate partners Laura Luo and Bertrand Theaud, and Hong Kong corporate partner Giovanni Marino, are no longer with the firm.

Winston & Strawn launched its first Asian office in Hong Kong in late 2008, picking up three partners from Heller Ehrman after the firm’s dissolution. Two of the three, Simon Luk and David Hall-Jones, remain Winston & Strawn partners in Hong Kong, while Michael Phillips left in 2010.

The Chicago-based firm opened both its Beijing and Shanghai offices a year later. In Beijing, the firm has had trouble keeping a managing partner. Less than a year after the office’s opening, managing partner Ge Xiangyang left for Mayer Brown JSM; his successor, Jem Li, quit the firm after three years for Australia’s Minter Ellison.

The Taipei office opened in early 2014 after Winston & Strawn hired former Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner Taipei partner and IP litigator John Alison. He then started a Taiwan practice with partners Thomas Jarvis and Vivian Kuo out of the Washington, D.C., office, and spent most of his time there. Later in 2014, the firm hired Taiwanese lawyer Horng-Dar Lin as a second partner and started handling local law work, an unusual move for a U.S. firm.

In Taipei, U.S. firms focus almost exclusively on intellectual property litigation, representing Taiwan manufacturers on proceedings in the U.S. Baker McKenzie, K&L Gates and Jones Day are exceptions, as they also do full-service local law work. But most of the U.S. firms’ Taiwan offices, including those of Finnegan, Perkins Coie and Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, are intentionally small and have few or no resident lawyers.

As The Asian Lawyer has previously reported, competition and costs have led a number of global law firms to reassess their Asia strategies. Orrick said it was overhauling its Asia strategy after the bulk of its China capital markets and corporate team left for Morgan, Lewis & Bockius. And last year, Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft said it was shutting down its operations in Beijing and Hong Kong. Many global law firms are making adjustments as they become more realistic about China’s market.

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