Hogan Lovells to close Mongolia office as managing partner exits to launch local firm

Hogan Lovells is closing its Mongolian office, with local managing partner Chris Melville set to launch a local firm with other lawyers from the base.

The firm has announced that its office in Mongolian capital Ulaanbaatar will close by the end of November following a strategic review. Melville is due to set up a new independent law firm that will cooperate with Hogan Lovells.

Alongside sole partner Melville, the office consists of 11 fee earners and three secretarial and support staff. It is unclear how many members of the team will move to the new office.

Global CEO Steve Immelt said: “Following a review of the market and our investment priorities, we have taken the decision to close our Ulaanbaatar office. The office managing partner in Ulaanbaatar, Chris Melville, has been closely involved in the decision and together with other colleagues in Mongolia, is proposing to set up a new independent law firm in Ulaanbaatar, with a cooperation relationship with Hogan Lovells. We are all very grateful to our team of 15 people in Ulaanbaatar for their hard work over the years.”

Melville said: “Hogan Lovells was the first global law firm to establish a permanent presence in Mongolia, and has operated there on high-profile transactions for both domestic and international clients. Global and local markets and the strategic priorities of the firm have changed since then.

“I strongly believe that we have a good practice, an excellent team, and that there are opportunities that we can take advantage of operating from a different platform, including working with Hogan Lovells in the future.”

Hogan Lovells entered Mongolia in 2010, with corporate partner Melville moving there from London in 2012.

In April, the firm represented the Mongolian government on local law issues concerning its issuance of $500m in sovereign bonds, the country’s first bond issuance since 2012.

Other international firms with bases in the country include US player Shearman & Sterling and Australian firm Minter Ellison.

Clyde & Co opened in the country via an association with local law firm Khan Lex Advocates in 2012.