Vinson & Elkins to close in Beijing as it 'evaluates' future of Hong Kong arm

Houston-based energy leader says it remains committed to having 'strong Asia footprint'
Beijing skyline

Beijing: Vinson was one of the first international law firms to open in China's capital city Shutterstock

Vinson & Elkins has become the latest of a flurry of international firms to close Asia offices with the news that it anticipates shutting down its Beijing outpost by the end of the year.

The firm is also evaluating its plans for its Hong Kong office, which is currently open, but by appointment only, and is being managed out of Houston by energy partner Kaam Sahely.

Vinson’s Asia shake-up, which was first reported by, comes hard on the heels of last week’s decision by UK firm Stephenson Harwood to close its Beijing office after a strategic review of its Asia operations; while Orrick and Osborne Clarke have both this year announced decisions to close in Hong Kong.

In a statement, Vinson said: “We carefully manage our offices and practices to ensure their alignment to client needs and the firm’s overall strategic goals. Taipei was closed in October 2018, and we anticipate that Beijing will be closed by year’s end. Our Hong Kong office remains open and we are evaluating our plans there going forward.”

Details of the Beijing office have already been removed from the firm’s website and there are currently no lawyers listed for either Hong Kong or Beijing.

Vinson was one of the first US practices to open in Beijing when it set up shop in 1997 and launched in Hong Kong just under 10 years later, in September 2006. It subsequently opened in Shanghai, but that office closed in 2013. 

In March 2017, it lost a six-lawyer energy team from across its Hong Kong and Beijing offices led by partners Xiao Yong and Nicholas Song to Dechert.

Last year former Beijing managing partner Rob Patterson joined Haynes and Boone in London.

“We continue to work for clients in a variety of industries in Asia,” Vinson said. “We remain committed to providing those clients the highest level of service and believe we are more than capable of doing so with our deep bench of lawyers positioned across our other global offices. Our firm’s long-term strategic plans include having a strong footprint in Asia and we intend to grow our presence there at the appropriate time.”

The firm’s other Asia office is in Tokyo while it has international bases in Dubai, Riyadh and London.

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