Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan has announced plans to open an office in Hong Kong with a partner recruited from Korean law firm Kim & Chang.
John Rhie, who was a senior foreign attorney at Kim & Chang focusing on commercial and investment treaty arbitration, will relocate to Hong Kong to become head of Los Angeles-based litigation firm Quinn Emanuel’s Asia international arbitration practice, pending approval by the Hong Kong Law Society. The firm said it would also relocate New York partner Carey Ramos.
Rhie joined Kim & Chang in 2010 from the London office of McDermott, Will & Emery, where he had been an associate. He began his career at the former Herbert Smith.
Ramos, who joined 600-lawyer Quinn Emanuel in 2011 from Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, focuses on litigation in the communications and technology industries. He will advise Asian clients on U.S. and E.U. disputes as well as arbitrations.
Quinn Emanuel has been eyeing Hong Kong for several years and has changed its mind at least once. In late 2011, managing partner John Quinn said the firm had decided against the idea on the grounds that Hong Kong courts were too conservative for the kind of affirmative financial-sector litigation the firm wanted to bring. He also thought potential fees were not high and questioned whether it was possible for a Hong Kong litigator to earn over $1 million a year.
But only a few months later, the firm embarked on a quest to become an international arbitration powerhouse, and changed its mind about Hong Kong. Quinn said the firm wanted to recruit a star partner with a following in the region and would consider either Hong Kong or Singapore depending on whom they could hire. Speculation at that time had focused on big names in those cities like Justin D’Agostino of Herbert Smith and John Savage of King & Spalding.