Why Quinn Emanuel steers clear of Hong Kong

November 4, 2011 Here is an interesting article in the Asian Lawyer about why Los Angeles-based litigation firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan has opted not to open an office in Hong Kong.

"We looked into it," says John Quinn, the firm's managing partner. "There were a lot of things that, from a distance, looked attractive to us. But I really have the impression that it's a market that's beyond competitive with a lot of pressure on billing rates and the revenues and incomes of lawyers impacted accordingly. For us, it was hard for it not to be dilutive."

The article points out that a number of US firms, including Davis Polk & Wardwell, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, and Sullivan & Cromwell have launched offices in Hong Kong to focus on capital markets, but that virtually none of them have an operating local litigation practice. And the reason? Quinn answers the question with another question: "Is there any litigator in Hong Kong] making $1 million a year? … I don't think there is."

According to Nicholas Hunsworth, a Hong Kong litigation partner with [Mayer Brown JSM
, the reason that litigation practice is not so lucrative in Hong Kong is that: "The big financial institutions [in Hong Kong] are not as willing to spend money on litigation," says Hunsworth. "They rarely litigate against each other."

US firms in Hong Kong tend to stay out of Hong Kong courts, preferring to focus their disputes capabilities on international arbitration or US litigation on behalf of Asian clients.

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