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United States Law Firms Taking Interest in China
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Summary: As the number of probes increase in Hong Kong, so do the number of United States lawyers as U.S.-based firms look to enter the legal market.

United States law firms are doing their best to boost their presence in Hong Kong of late, according to a report from Bloomberg.


The city is home to Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, Proskauer Rose LLP and Ropes & Gray LLP, all of whom have added lawyers in the city since the investigation into GlaxoSmithKline Plc began.

“Hong Kong and Asia weren’t traditionally seen as a hot spot for U.S. litigators,” said Bradley Klein, an investigations lawyer with Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP. “In the last 3 to 5 years, that’s changed completely.”

“This opened up a new front and the risk of having to juggle multiple investigations in multiple jurisdictions,” Klein said in regards to the Glaxo case.

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Glaxo was fined $489 million last month for its role in bribing doctors to help the sales of its drugs following an investigation that took 15 months to complete. The fine was the largest corporate penalty in the history of the country, according to Xinhua News Agency.

“The Chinese Communist Party led by President Xi Jinping is fighting for its survival and credibility by cleaning up,” said Martin Rogers, who joined Davis Polk & Wardwell in Hong Kong last year. “This is at least a medium-term anti-corruption campaign which will involve more and more international companies.”

Rogers also said that his firm is advising five global banks on issues related to hiring practices. He said the work being done by Davis Polk should continue into 2015.

Matthew Newick is the head of Asian litigation and dispute resolution for Clifford Chance LLP LLP LLP in Hong Kong.

“In the past a problem was identified and investigated,” he said. “Now issues like rate-rigging become the theme of the day and regulators everywhere will ask our clients ‘do you have such a problem? This leads to industrial-scale investigations.”

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Image credit: Clifford Chance



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