Winston & Strawn to shutter Hong Kong office

Joint venture in the region will continue, firm says
Sunset view of Hong Kong from Victoria Peak

Hong Kong Shutterstock

Winston & Strawn is set to exit Hong Kong, confirming today that it will close the office it opened there in 2008. 

The move follows the Chicago-based firm shuttering its Beijing and Taipei bases six years ago and will leave it with a small office of its own in Shanghai and a larger presence there and in Beijing through its alliance with McDermott Will & Emery’s former China partner, Yuanda, which it formed in 2020

“Winston & Strawn has made the difficult decision to close our Hong Kong office, effective February 1, 2024,” the firm said in a statement. 

“After carefully analysing changing client needs and the legal market in Hong Kong, we have decided to consolidate our resources in Asia. The firm will continue to service clients with business in the region from our office in Shanghai, China, and through our strategic alliance with Yuanda China Law Office. We expect that several of our existing Hong Kong attorneys will transition to other Winston offices.”

Winston’s Hong Kong office is led by longtime Asia chairman Simon Luk, who joined Winston in 2008 as part of a team from defunct US firm Heller Ehrman to launch its Asia practice. 

He moved over alongside former Asia managing partner David Hall-Jones, who retired five years ago and has not had a successor. 

Since then the office has had a spate of departures, including arbitration partner Terence Wong’s exit for Loeb & Loeb last year, just a few months after litigator Christy Leung joined Commerce & Finance Law Offices’ Hong Kong association firm, Eric Chow & Co. 

Alongside Luk, Winston’s Hong Kong team currently includes local partners David Cheng and Gino Cheng and a trio of associates, according to the Hong Kong Law Society. 

Several international firms have quit Hong Kong in recent years against the background of a dramatic shift in the political climate following Beijing’s decision to suppress the Special Administrative Region’s pro democracy movement armed with a controversial new national security law, which was introduced in 2020.

Baker Botts, Orrick and UK outfit Osborne Clarke are among those firms to have shut down their operations, Osborne Clarke citing disruption and uncertainty triggered by political protests and the Covid-19 pandemic as the cause of its June 2020 departure

Addleshaw Goddard shuttered its 36-strong office last year, with a number of its lawyers moving over to leading Hong Kong independent Howse Williams. 

However, the vast majority of international firms remain committed to the jurisdiction, including listed UK firm DWF, which moved into the city last year when it formed an exclusive agreement with local boutique Hauzen

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