Joe Teig of Holland and Hart in Jackson, Wyoming
Joe Teig of Holland and Hart in Jackson, Wyoming ()

Mongolia

Hogan Lovells partner Chris Melville is getting used to the weather in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, which can plunge to 40 degrees below.

Melville spent years working for the firm in Moscow beginning in 1999. He said that the legal frontier in Russia was similar to present-day Mongolia. “That was when people were making agreements on just three pages, and when I came here, it was not much different than that,” says Melville, who arrived in April 2012, a year after the office opened, and became the office managing partner in 2014. Another English-qualified counsel and six Mongolian lawyers have joined Melville in the lone Am Law 100 office in the country.


Mongolia

While Melville, a native of Scotland, speaks English and a bit of Russian, he doesn’t know Mongolian. His wife, a native of Mongolia who speaks five languages, helps with that. The couple is raising their 3-year-old in the nation’s capital.

Operating in Mongolia requires a keen understanding of political connections, which can make or break the big infrastructure projects on which the firm advises, Melville says. With Mongolia landlocked between China, a purchaser of much of the country’s raw commodities, and Russia, which sells Mongolia much of its electricity, Mongolian projects often become a tightrope walk between the local powers’ interests.

“Above a certain level, almost every project will tend to get politicized,” Melville says. “So it’s very important to get government support for every project you’re working on; otherwise there’s a chance it might not happen.”The firm’s presence helps its lawyers gain expertise navigating the politics, Melville says.

The firm has issued legal opinions in Mongolia, mostly for financing large projects. In April, the firm represented the Mongolian government on local law issues concerning its issuance of $500 million in sovereign bonds, the country’s first bond issuance since 2012.

With an economy reeling from the global drop in commodities prices, the Mongolian government in September asked the International Monetary Fund for a bailout. The country has long-term debt running around $23 billion, nearly double its $12 billion annual GDP.

But Melville is optimistic that foreign investors from South Korea, Japan and elsewhere will see Mongolia as a land of opportunity. His team has represented Japanese banks that lend to the Mongolian government.

As a partner in Moscow, Melville helped Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov get approval from the National Basketball Association to buy the New Jersey Nets. Basketball is popular in Mongolia, but he doesn’t see a Mongolian magnate doing the same. “I think the possibility of someone here buying a team like the Nets will be some way off,” Melville says. “But there are some guys here with a lot of money, so I wouldn’t rule it out.”

Myanmar

Baker & McKenzie is a constellation of far-flung offices in 47 countries often geared toward helping the world’s largest companies enter new markets. One of the latest examples is the firm’s outpost in Yangon, Myanmar, opened in February 2014 and the sole office of a global firm in the country.

A country of 53 million west of Thailand, the fortunes of Myanmar (formerly Burma) brightened in September when President Barack Obama pledged to lift long-standing sanctions. The move was billed as a reward for the recent election of a democratic government, which represented a turn away from decades of oppressive military rule. A McKinsey Global Institute report said that the country could see $100 billion in foreign direct investment in the country’s agriculture, mining and manufacturing sectors over the next 20 years. The task of helping clients take advantage of this largely falls to Jo Daniels, an Australian-trained lawyer with a background in infrastructure development. Daniels, who had vacationed in the country long before plans to open the office surfaced, arrived from Melbourne in July and heads the office of four partners and nine associates. She has no plans to leave. “I’m all-in on Myanmar,” Daniels said. “I love it here.”


The Temples of Bagan, Myanmar

She says she’s amazed by the pace of change in the country. When the office opened in 2014, cellphone SIM cards cost $150 apiece. They’re now $1.50, she says. The country’s first ATM was installed in 2013. They’re now ubiquitous. On the legal side, the country’s legislature has already passed laws concerning foreign investment, companies and arbitration. “We can send client updates every single week,” Daniels says.

Daniels is earning a Ph.D. from the University of Melbourne focused on regulating access to infrastructure for companies that didn’t invest in building that infrastructure. Opening up railways and ports to more companies can transform an economy, she says. She hopes Myanmar will take that approach.

As for plans for the office, it will continue to grow with mostly local additions. A one-lawyer outpost in a far-flung country? “That’s not the Baker & McKenzie way,” Daniels says.

Falkland Islands

Pinsent Masons’ presence in the Falkland Islands, a 3,000-person semiautonomous country just east of the southern tip of South America, is a vestige of the war between Argentina and the United Kingdom in 1982.

When the U.K. won control of the territory, its government sought to support the island. And so officials called on Gavin Farquhar, an attorney in Aberdeen, Scotland, whose firm had a relationship with an auditing company studying the islands’ needs.


Falkland Islands

Farquhar agreed to set up a Falklands office. He arrived in 1988 and stayed a year. At the time he was the only lawyer in town other than an attorney general. His prior firm, McGrigors, merged in 2012 with Pinsent Masons, which has supported the office. It’s now staffed full-time by a U.K.-trained attorney; Farquhar visits once a year.

Most of the firm’s commercial work on the island involves licensing for firms looking to exploit the area’s most abundant natural re­sources: farmland and fisheries. Farquhar hopes that a recent oil discovery near the Falklands will soon give way to oil and gas work, which would blend nicely with Pinsent Masons’ energy practice. But oil prices may need to rise for drilling to become economical.

Mainland U.K. attorneys will sometimes head to the courthouse in Stanley, the capital, to try a case, defending a fishing company accused of breaching fishing regulations, for example.

The firm also handles personal legal matters for the islands, including drafting wills, closing sales of homes and, at times, defending the criminally prosecuted. “All of that stuff you’d see in a small attorney’s office in America, you’re likely to see our local attorney doing in the Falklands,” Farquhar says.

That led to some anxiety for Farquhar when he first arrived. He was assigned a client accused of escaping custody from the military police. To prepare for his first courtroom appearance, Farquhar spent the night before the trial reading “Advocacy for Beginners.” He was somewhat surprised when the jury returned a verdict of not guilty.

During his time there, Farquhar has also learned about another vestige of the Falklands War: land mines. While playing golf with a client, Farquhar sliced his drive into an area that warned golfers of land mines left over from battle. His client ignored the sign and Farquhar’s pleas to avoid the area—made with his fingers plugging his ears—and headed to retrieve the ball.

“He said, ‘I saw them laying the mines, and I know exactly where they put them, so I’ll be fine,’” Farquhar says.

St. Thomas

Charlie Engeman sailed as a boy at his grandparents’ home in Lake George, New York. He became an elite rower in college, competing in the World University Games in the 1980s.

So maybe it’s no wonder he became restless after joining Goodwin Procter as a Boston associate. He quit in 1992, quoting Jimmy Buffett in a departing memo: “There’s still time to start a new life in the palm trees.”


St. Thomas

In December 1992 he moved to the Caribbean. His father William, a former partner at Cincinnati’s Taft Stettinius & Hollister, told him he was making a “career-killing” mistake. “But it turned out to be probably the best move that I could imagine,” says Engeman, now the managing partner of Atlanta-based Ogletree Deakins’ office there. He opened that office, the firm’s first international outpost, in 2000. It now has four lawyers.

Engeman arrived with plans to help a family friend get a 55-foot sailboat in working order. He figured he’d move back to a mainland big firm “once I got the sailing bug out of me.” That sailboat never made it out of the pier. His legal career caught wind instead.

Working at then St. Thomas’ largest law firm, a shop of 13 attorneys, Engeman developed a bustling labor and employment practice representing large U.S. companies hit with labor disputes in the Caribbean. He had clients including AT&T, IBM and JP Morgan Chase.

After becoming a partner at the local firm and working there for seven years, he began reaching out to global firms. Ogletree wanted to expand its relationships with companies he represented. “It was the second best move of my professional career,” he says. “It allowed me to continue to live and work in the Virgin Islands.”

Engeman’s practice takes him all over the Virgin Islands. A pilot, he flies his own small plane and isn’t tied to airline schedules.

He once represented a South Carolina-based hotel fighting an employment dispute in nearby St. Kitts. Engeman scheduled a meeting with the labor commissioner there and flew there to get a key signature the client needed.

“I was back in St. Thomas for dinner,” he says. “That was not something that another South Carolina firm would be able to do for that company, and it was an incredibly fun day. I got to fly.”

Jackson, Wyoming 

Joe Teig wears cowboy boots and jeans to work. Elk sometimes block the road to the office. “It’s not quite cowboy country, but it’s a mountain town,” Teig says.

Welcome to life in Jackson, Wyoming. Teig has been at Holland & Hart’s office here since 1997. He’s the senior lawyer among the 10 in the lone Am Law 200 outpost here, where more than 90 percent of the county’s land is a wildlife refuge.

Besides wide open spaces, Jackson has something else in abundance: money. The town is in Teton County, the most economically uneven county in the U.S., according to the Economic Policy Institute. The average income of the top 1 percent there is nearly $20 million, more than 233 times what the bottom 99 percent make. That’s the largest intercounty income gap in the U.S. But here’s the crazy part: The bottom 99 percent make nearly $100,000 a year, on average.

The situation gives Holland & Hart’s real estate and wealth management practices access to lots of clients. But it also makes it hard for attorneys to afford to live there.

“I got here just in time about 20 years ago,” Teig says. “One of the biggest challenges for us to sustain and grow our practice here in Jackson is the cost of living. And of course people who work in Silicon Valley and San Francisco laugh at me about that.”

The place is a boom town running out of land as more wealthy people flock here, attracted by Wyoming’s lack of a state income tax. The median value of a home in Teton County is $675,000. (It’s $175,700 nationally.) Teig calls housing a “crisis” in Jackson. Working people can’t afford to live there. St. John’s Medical Center, the local hospital, has bought homes for employees to live in since 2008.

For the firm, the boom in Jackson came when partner Marilyn Kite moved there for personal reasons. She and another lawyer opened the office in 1991. Then Kite was appointed the first woman justice to the Wyoming Supreme Court. “We really wondered whether we could survive in Jackson because she was so important to this office,” Teig says.

Now, 16 years later, the office has come full circle. Kite retired from the bench and in August announced she would return to the Jackson office as of counsel. And with all the billionaires moving to town, the firm is considering adding to its wealth management practice.

“A lot of those clients have lawyers on the East Coast or West Coast, but they really want to have their lawyer here in Jackson, and I think that’s something we’ll see opportunities for as this office continues to grow,” Teig says.

Email: rstrom@alm.com.

Mongolia

Hogan Lovells partner Chris Melville is getting used to the weather in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, which can plunge to 40 degrees below.

Melville spent years working for the firm in Moscow beginning in 1999. He said that the legal frontier in Russia was similar to present-day Mongolia. “That was when people were making agreements on just three pages, and when I came here, it was not much different than that,” says Melville, who arrived in April 2012, a year after the office opened, and became the office managing partner in 2014. Another English-qualified counsel and six Mongolian lawyers have joined Melville in the lone Am Law 100 office in the country.


Mongolia

While Melville, a native of Scotland, speaks English and a bit of Russian, he doesn’t know Mongolian. His wife, a native of Mongolia who speaks five languages, helps with that. The couple is raising their 3-year-old in the nation’s capital.

Operating in Mongolia requires a keen understanding of political connections, which can make or break the big infrastructure projects on which the firm advises, Melville says. With Mongolia landlocked between China, a purchaser of much of the country’s raw commodities, and Russia, which sells Mongolia much of its electricity, Mongolian projects often become a tightrope walk between the local powers’ interests.

“Above a certain level, almost every project will tend to get politicized,” Melville says. “So it’s very important to get government support for every project you’re working on; otherwise there’s a chance it might not happen.”The firm’s presence helps its lawyers gain expertise navigating the politics, Melville says.

The firm has issued legal opinions in Mongolia, mostly for financing large projects. In April, the firm represented the Mongolian government on local law issues concerning its issuance of $500 million in sovereign bonds, the country’s first bond issuance since 2012.

With an economy reeling from the global drop in commodities prices, the Mongolian government in September asked the International Monetary Fund for a bailout. The country has long-term debt running around $23 billion, nearly double its $12 billion annual GDP.

But Melville is optimistic that foreign investors from South Korea, Japan and elsewhere will see Mongolia as a land of opportunity. His team has represented Japanese banks that lend to the Mongolian government.

As a partner in Moscow, Melville helped Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov get approval from the National Basketball Association to buy the New Jersey Nets. Basketball is popular in Mongolia, but he doesn’t see a Mongolian magnate doing the same. “I think the possibility of someone here buying a team like the Nets will be some way off,” Melville says. “But there are some guys here with a lot of money, so I wouldn’t rule it out.”

Myanmar

Baker & McKenzie is a constellation of far-flung offices in 47 countries often geared toward helping the world’s largest companies enter new markets. One of the latest examples is the firm’s outpost in Yangon, Myanmar, opened in February 2014 and the sole office of a global firm in the country.

A country of 53 million west of Thailand, the fortunes of Myanmar (formerly Burma) brightened in September when President Barack Obama pledged to lift long-standing sanctions. The move was billed as a reward for the recent election of a democratic government, which represented a turn away from decades of oppressive military rule. A McKinsey Global Institute report said that the country could see $100 billion in foreign direct investment in the country’s agriculture, mining and manufacturing sectors over the next 20 years. The task of helping clients take advantage of this largely falls to Jo Daniels, an Australian-trained lawyer with a background in infrastructure development. Daniels, who had vacationed in the country long before plans to open the office surfaced, arrived from Melbourne in July and heads the office of four partners and nine associates. She has no plans to leave. “I’m all-in on Myanmar,” Daniels said. “I love it here.”


The Temples of Bagan, Myanmar

She says she’s amazed by the pace of change in the country. When the office opened in 2014, cellphone SIM cards cost $150 apiece. They’re now $1.50, she says. The country’s first ATM was installed in 2013. They’re now ubiquitous. On the legal side, the country’s legislature has already passed laws concerning foreign investment, companies and arbitration. “We can send client updates every single week,” Daniels says.

Daniels is earning a Ph.D. from the University of Melbourne focused on regulating access to infrastructure for companies that didn’t invest in building that infrastructure. Opening up railways and ports to more companies can transform an economy, she says. She hopes Myanmar will take that approach.

As for plans for the office, it will continue to grow with mostly local additions. A one-lawyer outpost in a far-flung country? “That’s not the Baker & McKenzie way,” Daniels says.

Falkland Islands

Pinsent Masons ‘ presence in the Falkland Islands, a 3,000-person semiautonomous country just east of the southern tip of South America, is a vestige of the war between Argentina and the United Kingdom in 1982.

When the U.K. won control of the territory, its government sought to support the island. And so officials called on Gavin Farquhar, an attorney in Aberdeen, Scotland, whose firm had a relationship with an auditing company studying the islands’ needs.


Falkland Islands

Farquhar agreed to set up a Falklands office. He arrived in 1988 and stayed a year. At the time he was the only lawyer in town other than an attorney general. His prior firm, McGrigors, merged in 2012 with Pinsent Masons , which has supported the office. It’s now staffed full-time by a U.K.-trained attorney; Farquhar visits once a year.

Most of the firm’s commercial work on the island involves licensing for firms looking to exploit the area’s most abundant natural re­sources: farmland and fisheries. Farquhar hopes that a recent oil discovery near the Falklands will soon give way to oil and gas work, which would blend nicely with Pinsent Masons ‘ energy practice. But oil prices may need to rise for drilling to become economical.

Mainland U.K. attorneys will sometimes head to the courthouse in Stanley, the capital, to try a case, defending a fishing company accused of breaching fishing regulations, for example.

The firm also handles personal legal matters for the islands, including drafting wills, closing sales of homes and, at times, defending the criminally prosecuted. “All of that stuff you’d see in a small attorney’s office in America, you’re likely to see our local attorney doing in the Falklands,” Farquhar says.

That led to some anxiety for Farquhar when he first arrived. He was assigned a client accused of escaping custody from the military police. To prepare for his first courtroom appearance, Farquhar spent the night before the trial reading “Advocacy for Beginners.” He was somewhat surprised when the jury returned a verdict of not guilty.

During his time there, Farquhar has also learned about another vestige of the Falklands War: land mines. While playing golf with a client, Farquhar sliced his drive into an area that warned golfers of land mines left over from battle. His client ignored the sign and Farquhar’s pleas to avoid the area—made with his fingers plugging his ears—and headed to retrieve the ball.

“He said, ‘I saw them laying the mines, and I know exactly where they put them, so I’ll be fine,’” Farquhar says.

St. Thomas

Charlie Engeman sailed as a boy at his grandparents’ home in Lake George, New York . He became an elite rower in college, competing in the World University Games in the 1980s.

So maybe it’s no wonder he became restless after joining Goodwin Procter as a Boston associate. He quit in 1992, quoting Jimmy Buffett in a departing memo: “There’s still time to start a new life in the palm trees.”


St. Thomas

In December 1992 he moved to the Caribbean. His father William, a former partner at Cincinnati’s Taft Stettinius & Hollister , told him he was making a “career-killing” mistake. “But it turned out to be probably the best move that I could imagine,” says Engeman, now the managing partner of Atlanta-based Ogletree Deakins ‘ office there. He opened that office, the firm’s first international outpost, in 2000. It now has four lawyers.

Engeman arrived with plans to help a family friend get a 55-foot sailboat in working order. He figured he’d move back to a mainland big firm “once I got the sailing bug out of me.” That sailboat never made it out of the pier. His legal career caught wind instead.

Working at then St. Thomas’ largest law firm, a shop of 13 attorneys, Engeman developed a bustling labor and employment practice representing large U.S. companies hit with labor disputes in the Caribbean. He had clients including AT&T , IBM and JP Morgan Chase .

After becoming a partner at the local firm and working there for seven years, he began reaching out to global firms. Ogletree wanted to expand its relationships with companies he represented. “It was the second best move of my professional career,” he says. “It allowed me to continue to live and work in the Virgin Islands.”

Engeman’s practice takes him all over the Virgin Islands. A pilot, he flies his own small plane and isn’t tied to airline schedules.

He once represented a South Carolina-based hotel fighting an employment dispute in nearby St. Kitts. Engeman scheduled a meeting with the labor commissioner there and flew there to get a key signature the client needed.

“I was back in St. Thomas for dinner,” he says. “That was not something that another South Carolina firm would be able to do for that company, and it was an incredibly fun day. I got to fly.”

Jackson, Wyoming 

Joe Teig wears cowboy boots and jeans to work. Elk sometimes block the road to the office. “It’s not quite cowboy country, but it’s a mountain town,” Teig says.

Welcome to life in Jackson, Wyoming. Teig has been at Holland & Hart ‘s office here since 1997. He’s the senior lawyer among the 10 in the lone Am Law 200 outpost here, where more than 90 percent of the county’s land is a wildlife refuge.

Besides wide open spaces, Jackson has something else in abundance: money. The town is in Teton County, the most economically uneven county in the U.S., according to the Economic Policy Institute. The average income of the top 1 percent there is nearly $20 million, more than 233 times what the bottom 99 percent make. That’s the largest intercounty income gap in the U.S. But here’s the crazy part: The bottom 99 percent make nearly $100,000 a year, on average.

The situation gives Holland & Hart ‘s real estate and wealth management practices access to lots of clients. But it also makes it hard for attorneys to afford to live there.

“I got here just in time about 20 years ago,” Teig says. “One of the biggest challenges for us to sustain and grow our practice here in Jackson is the cost of living. And of course people who work in Silicon Valley and San Francisco laugh at me about that.”

The place is a boom town running out of land as more wealthy people flock here, attracted by Wyoming’s lack of a state income tax. The median value of a home in Teton County is $675,000. (It’s $175,700 nationally.) Teig calls housing a “crisis” in Jackson. Working people can’t afford to live there. St. John’s Medical Center, the local hospital, has bought homes for employees to live in since 2008.

For the firm, the boom in Jackson came when partner Marilyn Kite moved there for personal reasons. She and another lawyer opened the office in 1991. Then Kite was appointed the first woman justice to the Wyoming Supreme Court. “We really wondered whether we could survive in Jackson because she was so important to this office,” Teig says.

Now, 16 years later, the office has come full circle. Kite retired from the bench and in August announced she would return to the Jackson office as of counsel. And with all the billionaires moving to town, the firm is considering adding to its wealth management practice.

“A lot of those clients have lawyers on the East Coast or West Coast, but they really want to have their lawyer here in Jackson, and I think that’s something we’ll see opportunities for as this office continues to grow,” Teig says.

Email: rstrom@alm.com.