Charles Russell Speechlys enters Asia with Hong Kong launch

Charles Russell Speechlys is opening its first Asian office, with the launch of a base in Hong Kong.

The new office, which will focus on family law and private wealth planning, will be staffed by three partners.

Richard Grasby is joining from offshore firm Maples and Calder, where he led the Asia trusts and private wealth practice from Hong Kong. Grasby, who is qualified in both the Cayman Islands and the British Virgin Islands, advises clients on trust structure, family offices and private funds.

He has been a partner at Maples since 2014, having joined the firm in 2008 from Ogier. He also worked at legacy SJ Berwin earlier in his career.

The office’s family law practice will be led by partner Jonathan Mok, who joins from Mayer Brown JSM. His practice includes matters arising from divorce, custody and assets transfer between generations. Mok has been a solicitor advocate since 2014 and is able to argue in court on behalf of clients in civil litigation. (Lawyers in Hong Kong are divided into the solicitor and barrister branches; only barristers were allowed to argue in court until 2012, when a small number of solicitors started to be granted Higher Rights of Audience.)

Mok joined Hong Kong’s Johnson Stokes & Master in 1995 and made partner in 2001. Johnson Stokes became Mayer Brown JSM in 2008, when it merged with the Chicago-based US firm.

Mok is in the process of launching a new Hong Kong law firm and will enter into an association with Charles Russell Speechlys. The new firm is expected to open in September, when it receives approval from the Law Society of Hong Kong.

In addition to the hires, London partner Ashley King Christopher will relocate to Hong Kong to advise on wealth structure and investment transactions. The Hong Kong office will also be staffed by three additional lawyers.

The news comes after Charles Russell Speechlys announced plans for a launch in Dubai with the hire of King & Wood Mallesons disputes partner Ghassan El Daye.

The launch, which requires regulatory approval, will give Charles Russell its third office in the Middle East, alongside existing bases in Doha in Qatar and Manama in Bahrain.