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08 February 2021

Ex-Jones Day partner launches sustainability-focused boutique in Hong Kong

Ben McQuhae & Co will choose work based on the UN's Sustainable Development Goals

By Ben Edwards

Portrait of Ben McQuhae

Ben McQuhae

Former Jones Day partner Ben McQuhae has launched a boutique law firm in Hong Kong that will be focused entirely on sustainability and innovation.

The eponymously named Ben McQuhae & Co says it aims to operate at the intersection of law, ESG and technology, providing advisory services to multinationals, small and medium-sized companies, investors, startups and entrepreneurs. The focus will be on transactions and other initiatives related to climate, biodiversity and innovation.

In a statement, the firm said: “We will choose the work we do, and do not do, by reference to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). We will assess our mandates and measure our impact against the SDGs.”

It also pledges to be a net-zero carbon law firm.

McQuhae has a background in sustainable finance and is the co-founder and a board member of the Hong Kong Green Finance Association, as well as the Hong Kong representative and steering committee member of the UN’s Financial Centres for Sustainability.

He will be joined at McQuhae & Co by two associates – Sean Soo and Jessica Ha. Both Soo and Ha followed McQuhae from his previous firm GPS McQuhae, where he was a co-founder in 2018. Prior to that McQuhae was a partner at Jones Day for more than seven years, following earlier stints at Fulbright & Jaworski and Dentons.

Dr Ma Jun, president of Beijing’s Institute of Finance and Sustainability and co-chair of the G20 Green Finance Study Group, said the firm would provide a ‘unique platform’ for clients at a time when they need support to transition to net-zero carbon emissions.

The launch of McQuhae & Co comes at a time of increased focus on sustainability issues in the Asia Pacific region. Last month Rajah & Tann Singapore opened a sustainability practice group in Asia amid growing regulatory scrutiny around environmental, social and governance standards. 

The new practice group is being led by banking and finance practice partner Lee Weilin, and is supported by a multi-disciplinary team of lawyers across the firm, including specialists in infrastructure, M&A, trade and environmental law.

Also last month, HFW hired Reed Smith’s Singapore managing partner and climate finance expert Peter Zaman.

HFW’s Singapore office head Mert Hifzi said Zaman is the region’s go-to lawyer for organisations looking to manage environmental risk, underscoring what is likely to be a competitive market for ESG-related work in the region.

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