Herbert Smith Freehills secures triple partner hire from Pinsent Masons in China

Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) has hired three projects partners in China from Pinsent Masons, including the firm’s China head Hew Kian Heong.

The other partners are Asia project finance leader Ellen Zhang and partner Michelle Li.

Heong, who specialises in China-related construction and infrastructure disputes, had led the firm’s China practice since 2014 and previously led the firm’s Shanghai office where he is based. He joined Pinsent Masons in 1995.

Zhang, who advises both development and financing of energy and infrastructure projects, joined Pinsent Masons in 2003 and became a partner a decade later. She is based in Beijing.

Hong Kong-qualified Li had trained with Pinsent Masons in 2001 and made partner in 2014. She splits her time between Beijing and Shanghai.

HSF Asia managing partner Justin D’Agostino said the hires will help the firm win projects work as China’s trade and economic growth development campaign, ‘Belt and Road’, progresses. “The massive scale of the Belt and Road initiative is generating huge numbers of infrastructure projects across Asia and beyond – and every new project also has the potential for complex disputes,” he said.

The ‘Belt and Road’ campaign was coined by President Xi Jinping in order to create a China-centered trade and economic network in areas that cover central, south and southeast Asia, Russia and the Middle East.

For Pinsent Masons, the departures have come to light just a week after the firm confirmed that it had ended a six-year alliance with a Chinese law firm. Partners Ye Wanhe and Elvis Zhou have since left Beijing-based construction boutique Hesen Law Firm.