Slaughter and May has made its first ever lateral partner hire, recruiting capital markets partner John Moore to its Hong Kong office.

Moore, a U.S.–qualified lawyer, most recently served as cohead of Morrison & Foerster’s China capital markets practice. He will join Slaughter and May next month, giving the firm U.S. law capability in Hong Kong for the first time.

Slaughter and May has been unique among British Magic Circle firms in largely eschewing global expansion. It has operated overseas mainly through its “best friends” referral network, which includes a number of other leading firms. Apart from London and Hong Kong, the firm only has an office in Brussels and a shared one in Beijing.

The conservative firm has also hewed to a strict lockstep compensation scheme for partners, and until now avoided lateral recruitment, preferring to groom its partners from its associate ranks.

Such a move in Hong Kong had been somewhat anticipated though. Slaughter and May had frequently served as Hong Kong counsel on major capital markets matters in which New York best friend firms such as Davis Polk & Wardwell advised on U.S. law. But the Wall Street firms have all added their own Hong Kong law capability in recent years, cutting off a source of referrals to Slaughter and May.

Moore joined Morrison & Foerster in 2011 from the former Herbert Smith, where he was Hong Kong–based head of Asia capital markets. In 2010 Moore acted for the underwriters on the Agricultural Bank of China’s $22.1 billion initial public offering, as well as for the banks on Chongqing Rural Commercial Bank’s $1.4 billion IPO.

He also previously served as executive director and senior counsel at Goldman Sachs, responsible for its investment banking division in Asia excluding Japan.

Slaughter and May now has about 57 lawyers in Hong Kong, including 12 partners. The firm has about 550 lawyers worldwide.