04 Dec 2019

Steptoe launches in Hong Kong with three-partner office

US top 100 firm says more hires to follow after launch of regulatory practice.

Wendy Wysong

Steptoe is opening in Hong Kong with the hire of a partner and counsel from Clifford Chance (CC). White-collar crime and regulatory specialist Wendy Wysong will spearhead the office after a 12-year stint as a partner at CC. Joining her as a partner from CC’s Singapore office is counsel Ali Burney while partner Susan Munro is transferring from Steptoe’s Beijing office, where she is currently chief representative.

Expansion plan

The firm said it expected to hire additional lawyers to the office soon.The Hong Kong arm will be the top-100 US law firm’s ninth office and fourth overseas after London, Brussels and Beijing, which celebrates is tenth anniversary next year. The trio will focus on cross-border investigations, compliance and enforcement work, a core strength of the Washington-based firm.

Vote of confidence

The move will be seen as a vote of confidence in Hong Kong - Asia’s most popular hub for international law firms – given the ongoing anti-government protests. Wyson, who will also maintain an office in Washington, is noted for her expertise advising on the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and sanctions laws. She joined CC in December 2004 from the US Bureau of Industry and Security where she was deputy assistant secretary for export enforcement. Steptoe Chair Phil West commented: 'Wendy is perhaps the most prominent Hong Kong practitioner in areas that complement key Steptoe strengths: white-collar defence, FCPA, export controls and economic sanctions.' Last month Steptoe announced the hiring of former EU ambassador to the US, David O’Sullivan, who joined the Brussels office as a senior counsellor.

HFW swoops

The firm's move into Hong Kong comes as another US firm, Locke Lord, faces key departures from its office with last month’s hire by the UK’s HFW of a 10-lawyer Hong Kong corporate finance team, including partners Matthew Wong and Wing Cheung, who was the office’s managing partner.