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Davis Polk Launches Hong Kong Litigation Practice With Clifford Chance Hires
The Asian Lawyer
Davis Polk & Wardwell has recruited two Clifford Chance partners to launch a Hong Kong litigation practice.
Martin Rogers, the former head of Clifford Chance's Asia Pacific disputes practice and co-head of its regional financial regulatory practice, and partner James Wadham are both set to join Davis Polk "in the near term," according to Thomas Reid, the New York-based firm's managing partner.
Reid says the move was driven by the demand of domestic and international clients facing a rising tide of enforcement actions in Asia. "We certainly have seen our clients asking for help in enforcement matters in Asia with increasing frequency," he says.
The move is the firm's second major expansion into Hong Kong practice in recent years. Though it opened its Hong Kong office in 1993, Davis Polk, like many Wall Street firms, only practiced U.S. law in the region until 2010, when it launched a Hong Kong capital markets practice. Since then, most of Davis Polk's major New York rivals, including Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, and Sullivan & Cromwell have launched similar practices.
But Hong Kong capital markets have been in a severe slowdown since the end of 2011, and Davis Polk's push into local litigation reflects a desire to create a more balanced practice in the region.
Several firms have deployed litigation partners from the U.S. and elsewhere to advise companies in Asia on Foreign Corrupt Practices Act or Securities and Exchange Commission investigations. But Davis Polk is also eyeing the more active financial regulatory stance that Hong Kong's Securities & Futures Commission has adopted under chief executive Ashley Alder, a former partner at the firm now known as Herbert Smith Freehills.
The SFC recently announced a new Companies Bill that would make auditors criminally liable if they knowingly or recklessly omit a required statement from an auditor's report. And Hong Kong's securities regulator announced last week that banks could be held criminally liable if the companies they sponsor in IPOs provide false information on their prospectuses. Rogers has already been working with Davis Polk Hong Kong partner Bonnie Chan in advising 23 investment banks in their interactions with the SFC, says Reid.
Qualified in England and Hong Kong, Rogers has been a partner at Clifford Chance since 2002, when he moved to that firm from the Hong Kong office of Herbert Smith, where he had worked for 14 years and had been named Asia managing partner just prior to leaving.
Wadham began his career in New Zealand, where he worked for Auckland's Russell McVeagh. He joined Clifford Chance in Hong Kong in 2002 and became a partner in 2007. Like Rogers, he focuses on advising clients in the financial services industry. He is admitted in New Zealand, Hong Kong and England.
In a statement, Clifford Chance said it continued to have a strong litigation and dispute resolution practice in the region, noting its announcement last week of a formal law alliance with Singapore litigation boutique Cavenagh Law.
"We have every confidence this will not affect our relationships with our institutional clients as Clifford Chance offers the highest quality advice and service across the broadest range of international law expertise available in the market," the firm said.