Firms pull out of Beijing, HK

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Stephenson Harwood and Vinson & Elkins recently announced the closures of their Beijing offices.

Stephenson Harwood closed partly due to its Asia strategic plan, and a shifting of its focus towards Hong Kong. The closure leaves the firm with offices in Hong Kong, Shanghai, and an associated office in Guangzhou.

Vinson & Elkins will close its Beijing office by year’s end, and is also reviewing its plans for the Hong Kong office, which is now open by appointment only.

The firm’s business in China is mainly focused on the energy sector, and the closure may be due to a sharp drop in oil and gas prices in Asia. Vinson & Elkins was one of the first US firms to open in Beijing, in 1997.

Orrick and Osborne Clarke are also set to pull out of Hong Kong. Orrick is to wind down its Hong Kong office operations by the end of August, shortly after its office lease expires. The firm conceded defeat on its strategy of growing a technology and innovation practice. The Hong Kong team currently comprises four partners.

Osborne Clarke announced it would close of its two-partner Hong Kong office in June due to the “disruption and uncertainty” triggered by “political protests and the coronavirus pandemic”. Within Asia, the firm still has offices in Shanghai and Singapore, and in India through its partner BTG Legal.