UK law firm Stephenson Harwood is closing its seven-year-old office in Beijing and refocus its offering in Hong Kong, following a review of its presence in Asia.

One of the first international law firms to establish a presence in China, Stephenson Harwood set up its Beijing office in 2013, initially two just legal directors. The office got a boost in 2018 with the arrival of partner Allen Shyu and his eleven-lawyer team from Troutman Saunders.

However, Shyu left just one year later to join Akin Gump. The office currently has just one partner - Lin Chunhui – and she will be leaving later this year.

Meanwhile, the firm will also refocus its Hong Kong business to better align with its core practices, namely litigation, corporate M&A and asset finance, as well as developing its private wealth capability.

In Greater China, Stephenson Harwood will be left with offices in Shanghai and Hong Kong, and an association with Wei Tu Law Firm in Guangzhou, which was established in 2016.

The firm has also named Jamie Stranger as its new Greater China managing partner, replacing Voon Keat Lai, and the promotion of four partners in Hong Kong, which, in the words of the firm, reflects that “our commitment to Greater China is not in question.”

 “As one of the first international firms to establish a presence in Hong Kong we enjoyed an ‘early mover’ advantage for many years. But it’s important not to rest on your laurels and to continually look at ways to improve as a business. The changes we’re making – to focus on, and strengthen, our core practices – ensures that we continue to align our business with the needs of our clients,” Stranger added in a press release.

As part of a larger strategy plan, Stephenson Harwood will explore expansion opportunities in Southeast Asia and continue to develop its Seoul office.

The firm’s practices in Greater China, Korea and Singapore now generate around 25 percent of its revenue. 

The past few weeks have seen two other international firms streamlining their China operations: both Osborne Clarke and Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe announced that they would be closing their Hong Kong offices.


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