Summary: Troutman Sanders to exit Asia in May of this year.
By the end of May, Troutman Sanders will close its three offices in Asia. According to Law.com, the Atlanta-based law firm announced the shuttering in an internal memo released on Monday. The Big Law firm said that it intended to close these locations as part of their overall business strategy and not because of performance.
Troutman Sanders stated that it would close its offices in Hong Kong, Beijing, and Shanghai by May 31st.
“As part of a strategic review and after careful consideration, we have concluded that there is not sufficient overlap between our China practice and our areas of greatest focus,” the firm said in a statement to The American Lawyer. “As a result, we have decided to cease our operations in China and close our Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing offices effective May 31, 2018.”
The Asian offices had been running for almost 21 years, according to Law.com.
Steve Lewis, Troutman Sanders’ managing partner, said that the firm plans to focus more on middle-market clients, and he said that their Chinese offices had a different specialty than the energy, banking and finance, life sciences, and insurance practices that the firm wanted to focus on.
“Our China practice has very good lawyers, but their focus is predominately Hong Kong securities and M&A work,” Lewis said. “We believe that there are other firms that do that better than we do.”
Lewis added that the decision to close the Asian offices was based on strategy and not financial reasons or the performance of the lawyers in China.
Law.com said that Troutman Sanders is the latest U.S. firm to leave Asia entirely. In 2015, Chadbourne & Parke and Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson left the continent, and a year later, Wickersham & Taft closed its Asian offices and laid off 25 attorneys.
According to Bloomberg Big Law Business, more than two dozen law firms have closed in mainland China, many in the last five years.
In Asia, Troutman Sanders has 43 lawyers and eight partners. Lewis said that 90 people will be affected by the three offices closing.
“Our expectation is that all of our people will find positions with other firms based in China,” Lewis said. “Our China practice has great lawyers. This is not a reflection on their performance, but an acknowledgment that the connection between what we’re doing in the U.S. and the great work they’re doing [in Asia] isn’t as strong as we would like.”