CMS adds Hong Kong law capability via association with domestic firm

CMS has entered an association with a Hong Kong law firm set up this month by former Troutman Sanders partner Shirley Lau.

The association will allow CMS to offer local law advice, as well as a full service corporate offering alongside its existing disputes and finance practice in Hong Kong.

Shirley Lau & Co was launched by name partner and corporate finance specialist Lau and includes a team of seven corporate and litigation associates from Troutman Sanders’ Hong Kong office, which the Atlanta-based firm had decided to wind down by the end of this month.

The US firm is set to withdraw entirely from Asia by May 31, with plans to also close offices in Beijing and Shanghai.

Lau focuses on listings, mergers and acquisitions and compliance matters related to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. She joined Troutman Sander in 2005 from legacy Preston Gates & Ellis.

Shirley Lau & Co also includes members of CMS Hong Kong’s existing team. The firm’s co-office head and banking parnter Tim Elliott has joined as office managing director along with three other fee earners from the firm’s Hong Kong base. CMS Hong Kong will now be led by former co-head and arbitration partner Nicolas Wiegand.

Elliott said: “The new association allows us to offer Hong Kong law capabilities to clients and build on our rapidly expanding offering in Hong Kong. We are pleased to be able to now support clients with a full service corporate offering from a highly experienced and well respected team”.

Both Elliott and Wiegand relocated in January 2017 to lead the Hong Kong office which opened in late 2016. Eliott relocated from the firm’s London office while Wiegand moved there from CMS Hasche Sigle in Germany. The pair were responsible for building out CMS’ finance capabilities in the region alongside its disputes offering.

Last month, Troutman Sanders’ former Beijing office, including a US law capital markets team, was acquired by Stephenson Harwood.

Last year, CMS UK completed a three-way merger with Nabarro and Olswang in May. The merger created a firm with nearly 2,500 lawyers in the UK, within a global total of more than 4,500 lawyers across 65 offices in 36 countries.

Since then, it has expanded its international presence further boosting its office count to 74 across 42 countries. For example, in September last year CMS secured a Singapore law capability with an alliance with seven-lawyer local firm Holborn Law. The firm is also actively looking for a partner firm in China, executive partner Duncan Weston told The Asian Lawyer last year.

It also strengthened its Middle East coverage in September by sealing an exclusive alliance with Saudi Arabian law firm Feras Al Shawaf.

The same month, it boosted its Paris real estate offering with the hire of a 12-lawyer team from Herbert Smith Freehills’ (HSF) base in the French capital.

More recently, it recruited nine Dentons banking and finance lawyers for its Warsaw office in Poland.