Locke Lord’s recent decision to shutter its Hong Kong office brought the number of Am Law 100 firms that exited the market in 2020 to three. Last May, I wrote in this column that finding the right practice and committing to it with the right people was key to succeeding in a competitive market such as Hong Kong’s. There was an important part of the equation that wasn’t quite discussed in that piece: local law. And Locke Lord is—or, rather, was—a good place to have that discussion.

As far as Texas firms are concerned, Locke Lord was an outlier when it came to Hong Kong. The firm opened its office there in 2011 amid a sea of U.S. law firms trying to develop a Hong Kong law practice to capture work in the buzzing capital markets space. That was not the case for the Texas firms. At the time, the two Texas firms already in Hong Kong—Vinson & Elkins and Baker Botts—both focused only on foreign law work.

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