Closure on cards for Winston Hong Kong, LC Lawyers next year

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Winston Hong Kong and LC Lawyers shut down
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Winston & Strawn’s Hong Kong office will shut down at the beginning of next year, along with LC Lawyers, a Hong Kong law firm member of the global network of EY, one of the Big Four.

The Hong Kong office of Winston & Strawn will close on 1 January 2024. “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 YuandaWinston with Yuanda China Law Offices,” said the firm.

Established in 2008, Winston & Strawn’s Hong Kong office mainly offered services in cross-border M&A, capital markets and intellectual property. The firm’s website said partner and Asia business department chairman Simon Luk led the office, with other partners including David Cheng and Gino Cheng. The firm’s announcement also mentioned that some of the lawyers in Hong Kong will be relocated to other offices.

Following the closure of its Beijing and Taipei offices in 2017, Winston & Strawn’s latest decision will leave Shanghai as its only location in Asia. YuandaWinston is also based in Shanghai.

LC Lawyers will cease operations on 23 January 2024. EY Greater China said, “We are making appropriate arrangements to ensure client services are not affected”, adding that it is considering options such as acquisitions or alliances to provide new legal services in Hong Kong.

Currently, the firm’s website still lists managing partner Rossana Chu, but another partner Li Fai has been removed.

This year, several foreign law firms adjusted their China strategies. In September, Linklaters dismissed at least 20 lawyers from its Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong offices. Latham & Watkins and Ropes & Gray reduced the scale of their mainland China offices. Since 2018, Baker McKenzie has cut its mainland China lawyer count from 60 to 15, although its Hong Kong office staff increased from 154 to 162.

Some foreign law firms are expanding their footprint, shifting focus to southern China’s Shenzhen, including Bird & Bird, Holman Fenwick Willan and Morgan Lewis.

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