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Hong Kong > Regulatory > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings



Index of tables

  1. Regulatory
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next generation lawyers

Leading individuals

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Next generation lawyers

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Who Represents Who

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Allen & Overy covers a range of financial services regulatory matters, advising banks on transactional matters and day-to-day activity. Charlotte Robins, who joined from Norton Rose Fulbright in 2016, Yvonne Siew and associate Will Yip advised DBS Bank on the regulatory aspects of its acquisition of ABN AMRO’s private banking business. Robins also assisted Société Générale with securities licensing matters in Hong Kong. Fai Hung Cheung has mainland Chinese financial services regulation expertise, while contentious financial services litigator Simon Clarke has a track record of advising leading institutions on agenda-setting matters concerning both sides of the Shenzhen river. The firm also acts for ICBC, Goldman Sachs, Aviva, Deutsche Bank and HSBC.

Clifford Chance advises key institutions on regulation concerning matters including banking, pensions, takeovers and derivatives. Matthias Feldmann advised ABN AMRO on the sale of its private banking business in the Middle East and Asia to LGT Group, while Mark Shipman, Francis Edwards, Edward Johnson, Brian Gilchrist and Donna Wacker handle financial services matters involving regulators such as the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) and Market Misconduct Tribunal matters. The team also acts for State Street, UBS, BNY Mellon and Bank of America.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer covers a range of financial services regulatory matters, covering fintech, policy issues, bancassurance, transactions and prime brokerage. Royce Miller advises the Hong Kong Association of Banks on consultations regarding the resolution mechanism for banks, should one in Hong Kong fail. Transactional highlights include Robert Ashworth, Richard Bird and Miller’s advice to DBS Bank on its purchase of ANZ Bank’s retail banking operations in China, Hong Kong and Vietnam. In the insurance space, Edward Freeman and Teresa Ko acted for First Origin International regarding its proposed purchase of Hong Kong Life, which sells and underwrites life insurance, for HK$7.1bn. Tim Mak is also a key contact for private equity regulation. Simon Hawkins is now a counsel at Latham & Watkins LLP.

Reed Smith Richards Butler has a strong practice in contentious financial services matters, acting for both the regulators and the regulated. David Morrison and Alex Kaung act for CITIC in the wake of long-running Market Misconduct Tribunal (MMT) proceedings over significant foreign exchange contract losses, and a subsequent statement to investors regarding the group’s trading position; the company was cleared. Kaung also represented Minth Group in SFC proceedings over the purchases of two companies in 2008 and an alleged lack of disclosure to shareholders. Also in the MMT space, William Barber represented AcrossAsia in a case regarding non-disclosure of information regarding Indonesian court litigation. Desmond Yu acted for Pacific Andes International Holdings and several of its subsidiaries in the Hong Kong aspects a cross-border regulatory investigation led by a team in the special administrative region by the SFC over alleged accounting inaccuracies. In other work, Nathan Dentice and Yu represented the Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants in various judicial review and appeal cases. Other clients include The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong and Noble Group.

Baker McKenzie is praised for its ‘good response times’. Karen Man, who heads the non-contentious side of the practice, is ‘very commercial, has deep market knowledge and is flexible in her approach’; she advised LGT Group (the investment arm of the Liechtenstein royal family) on the Hong Kong aspects of its multi-jurisdictional purchase of ABN AMRO’s private banking business in the Middle East and Asia. Cynthia Tang, who has expertise in a range of Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) and Market Misconduct Tribunal regulatory matters, is a name to note for contentious work. Other clients include EFG Bank and Maybank, a new client win. Grace Fung is a key name at associate level.

DeaconsSimon Deane advised a Japanese bank and its Hong Kong subsidiary on Banking Ordinance matters, and a ride-sharing company on financial services matters concerning stored value facilities, an area in which he also advises several banks and fintech companies. As far as more traditional financial services work is concerned, Taylor Hui advises on the SFC regulatory aspects of capital markets matters. Cryptocurrencies are also an area of expertise. In addition, Richard Hudson is also representing the Law Society of Hong Kong regarding interventions into two firms. Jane McBride’s expertise includes advising on SFC regulatory aspects of securities matters, one example of this being assisting Mirae Asset Securities with its acquisition of Daewoo Securities. Charmaine Koo has data protection expertise, with Joseph Kwan, the head of the firm’s overall dispute resolution practice, handling heavyweight contentious matters.

Herbert Smith Freehills is ‘a great firm for regulatory work, with a large team in Hong Kong’, providing ‘a good level of service’ on both contentious and non-contentious matters concerning securities, professional investor rules, capital markets and other financial services regulation. William Hallatt has ‘good judgement, a great grasp of the rules and the ability to be pragmatic: a great combination in a regulatory lawyer’, with Gareth Thomas, Kyle Wombolt, Robert Hunt and Julian Copeman also key contacts; the ‘very good’ Hannah Cassidy made partner in May 2017.

Linklaters advises a range of key names across financial services and beyond on regulatory investigations covering various financial matters. Gavin Lewis is a key contact for securities regulation, with Jelita Pandjaitan in Singapore also advising on SFC and HKMA investigations. Melvin Sng is another name to note for this kind of work. Stephen Fletcher has retired, while Marc Harvey transferred to the firm’s London office.

Simmons & Simmons LLP’s ‘very good’ team handles regulatory work including matters concerning fintech (in particular stored value facilities), derivatives and capital markets, some of which with links to mainland China. Jay Lee advised the Credit Guarantee and Investment Facility on the regulatory aspects of a cross-border bond issuance designed to be issued in Singapore and traded in Thailand. Ian Wood handles fintech matters, including advising Neat on providing a stored value facility that can be used like a bank account, while Rolfe Hayden has private equity regulation expertise. Contentious work saw Paul Li representing the former CFO of CITIC Pacific, who was cleared, in the long-running Market Misconduct Tribunal case.

Ashurst’s ‘high-quality and deservedly well-regarded team, which provides high-calibre advice and excellent client service’, ‘has a deeply professional and client-centred approach, providing prompt responses to queries and quick turnaround times’. Ben Hammond, who handles SFC regulatory matters and issues concerning the impacts of MiFID on Hong Kong operators, has ‘a deep knowledge and understanding of the financial services industry, and can bring a global perspective to the matters he advises on’. James Comber and Gareth Hughes also handle work regarding SFC investigations. Counsel is Stephanie Chan another name to note. Clients include BNP Paribas, Credit Suisse and Bank of China.

Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP handles a range of matters concerning financial services and audit regulation, including matters concerning rogue traders and hiring practices. Work highlights for the firm include successfully representing a defendant in the CITIC Market Misconduct Tribunal case. Key names in the practice include Martin Rogers, James Wadham, Karen Chan, and Patrick Sinclair, a former US prosecutor, who joined the firm from Ropes & Gray LLP. In the asset management and investment banking space, the firm acts for BlackRock, Goldman Sachs and Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, alongside a roster of mainland Chinese clients such as Baidu, Bank of China and Tencent.

Dechert’s two-partner team handles various regulatory matters, such as cross-border disputes and mandates involving mainland Chinese elements and American issues. Michael Wong, a new hire from K&L Gates, ‘delivers more than the scope of the work: his quick responses and outstanding knowledge impress clients: he is the one they have in mind when they need compliance advice’. Wong advised Stifel Financial on the Hong Kong aspects of its purchase of Eaton Partners, with Kareena Teh the other partner in the team. Angelym Lim is now an independent consultant.

Covering contentious and non-contentious financial services regulatory work, Hogan Lovellsknows the area and pitches the team size at the right level’. Non-contentious work includes Tim Fletcher and senior associate Jan Buschmann advising Lloyds Banking Group on the regulatory aspects of its subsidiary Scottish Widows’ divestment of a life insurance portfolio to CMI Insurance, while Mark Parsons contributes fintech expertise. In the contentious space, Mark Lin represented a director, who was cleared, in the CITIC Market Manipulation Tribunal case. Other clients include Prudential and AXA. Jocelyn Kwan, formerly a senior associate, is now in-house at HSBC.

King & Wood Mallesons is ‘able to provide timely responses, with particularly good knowledge in securities-related areas’. Richard Mazzochi has ‘strong legal, personal and commercial skills’ – he and Minny Siu advised the International Swaps and Derivatives Association (ISDA) on updating advice regarding the enforceability of close-out netting in derivatives transactions in Mainland China. The ‘efficient’ Urszula McCormack is ‘available when clients need her and delivers quality advice on time’; she advised Standard Chartered as custodian to Alipay and Octopus for their stored value facilities and assisted Dairy Farm Group with matters relating to an e-payments system for its 7-Eleven stores. Barbara Chiu heads the contentious side of the practice. Other clients include the Hong Kong Association of Banks and the Financial Services Development Council.

Stephenson Harwood handles a range of financial services licensing matters. Mark Reed, Greater China managing partner Voon Keat Lai and senior associate Katherine Liu advised TNG Asia on its successful application for a stored value facility license from the Hong Kong Monetary Authority; Reed and Liu also assisted AC Asset Management with applications for various securities licenses. Contentious matters saw the pair representing a Hong Kong-listed business developing real estate in mainland China after an SFC investigation into an alleged unauthorised collective investment scheme; no enforcement action was recommended. Ivan Ng and senior associate Ian Childs are also recommended.

DLA Piper handles financial services work covering traditional securities matters as well as fintech and other technology-related matters. Jonathan Leitch assisted Optal Asia with its successful application for a HKMA stored value facility license, while Scott Thiel advised Goldman Sachs on the regulatory aspects of several data centre outsourcing transactions. Harris Chan has mobile payments and securities regulation expertise, including successfully defending a client in a private prosecution brought under section 298 of the Securities and Futures Ordinance, securing a costs order against the private prosecutor. Other clients include Samsung Electronics and Aviva. Karl Buch relocated to the firm’s New York office.

The team at Kennedysprovides a very good and personalised client service’. Contentious regulatory partner Kevin Yamgets what it takes to help business people and senior managers; he understands their perspectives, needs and risks’. Mark West also handles contentious work and Peter Cashin is a name to note for non-contentious matters. Below partner level, solicitor Rachel Yuen is ‘110% responsible and reliable’.

O'Melveny’s Denis Brock advises the Hong Kong Confederation of Insurance Brokers on its investigations and prosecutions. Other matters concern mis-selling claims and securities regulation, an area in which Nima Amini also has expertise. Other clients include Deloitte, Aon and Grant Thornton, as well as investment banks.

Counsel Dominic James is now the key name at Sidley Austin, following the departure of Alan Linning to Mayer Brown JSM in 2017. James was part of the team that represented E*TRADE Securities in criminal proceedings regarding a violation of the Securities & Futures Ordinance’s prohibition of carrying out regulated activity without a license. The team also handles contentious SFC work, much of which concerns investment funds.

Timothy Loh LLP’s name partner Timothy Loh advises investment managers and derivatives operators on matters regarding clearing and trading of over-the-counter derivatives. Contentious work includes representing activist short-seller Citron Research in a Court of Appeal case regarding alleged misrepresentations in an investment report regarding mainland Chinese, but Hong Kong-listed, real estate company Evergrande.

Anti-corruption and compliance

Index of tables

  1. Regulatory: anti-corruption and compliance
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next generation lawyers

Leading individuals

  1. 1
    • Kelly Austin - Gibson Dunn
    • Andrew Dale - Ropes & Gray LLP
    • Cori Lable - Kirkland & Ellis
    • Yuet Ming Tham - Sidley Austin
    • Vasu Muthyala - Kobre & Kim
    • Martin Rogers - Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP
    • Patrick Sinclair - Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP
    • James Wadham - Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP
    • Kyle Wombolt - Herbert Smith Freehills

Next generation lawyers

  1. 1

Who Represents Who

Find out which law firms are representing which Anti-corruption and compliance clients in Hong Kong using The Legal 500's new comprehensive database of law firm/client relationships. Instantly search over 925,000 relationships, including over 83,000 Fortune 500, 46,000 FTSE350 and 13,000 DAX 30 relationships globally. Access is free for in-house lawyers, and by subscription for law firms. For more information, contact


Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP reinforced its already outstanding credentials in anti-corruption and compliance with the hire of Patrick Sinclair, a former US prosecutor, from Ropes & Gray LLP. The firm also elevated Hong Kong litigator Karen Chan to partner status, bringing even more regulatory investigations and enforcement proceedings expertise to the senior ranks. The Hong Kong team continues to work on many of the biggest investigations in Hong Kong and Asia, including significant anti-corruption and Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) matters, where it can draw on the firm’s white-collar crime expertise in New York and Washington DC. The department defended Henry Fan of CITIC in connection with allegations of market misconduct against the company and five former directors relating to foreign exchange contracts. Martin Rogers is a giant of the Hong Kong market, frequently instructed on the most complex and challenging engagements in the region. James Wadham is also an established name in the sector.

Herbert Smith Freehills has shown enormous commitment to this field over the last decade, building a sizeable team in Greater China and across Asia Pacific. It now represents numerous multinational and Asian corporates, banks and financial institutions. Regarded as ‘the premier corporate investigations practice in Asia’ by one client, the department’s standing stems from the ‘experience and industry awareness’ of Kyle Wombolt, who ‘has seen everything’, is the ‘predominant corporate investigations and financial services regulatory lawyer in Asia’ and is ‘in big demand for companies, and particularly banks, in crisis situations’. Robert Hunt is ‘well respected in the market’ and impresses with his handling of cases, particularly for investment banks.

Ropes & Gray LLP is a global leader in anti-corruption and compliance, and despite the departure of Patrick Sinclair to Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP, the firm maintains a sizeable presence in Hong Kong through key partners Andrew Dale and Mimi Yang. The team is especially active in the private equity, technology, healthcare and life sciences segments, most notably advising US-based businesses in major corporate investigations. Building on its impressive market share of China investigations, the team is also especially active in India, South-East Asia, South Korea and Japan.Cori Lable is now with Kirkland & Ellis.

Clifford Chance is making its mark in the anti-corruption and compliance scene, operating one of the largest teams across Asia Pacific. The ‘excellent’, ‘knowledgeable’, ‘responsive’ and ‘hardworking’ Hong Kong group is ‘strong from partner to associate level’ and has earned itself an impressive market share of top engagements. It frequently advises on Asia-specific investigations as well as the Asia or country-specific aspect of global investigations, most notably China-located investigations. Clients praise the department for its local knowledge and cultural sensitivity, but also its ability to harness resources and expertise from across the global firm. Wendy Wysong is commended for her expertise derived from her stint as a federal prosecutor in the US, her ‘knowledge of the local culture’ and her ‘experience in US sanctions law’ that ‘gives her a skillset that is hard to replicate’. Consultant Richard Sharpe is qualified as a barrister in London and solicitor in Hong Kong, giving him a ‘unique perspective to analyse complex regulatory/white-collar issues’. Consultant Lei Shi is also recommended for mainland China issues and William Wong is ‘knowledgeable’ and has an ‘ability to deliver succinct and appropriate advice’.

Kobre & Kim brings its renowned contentious and forensic skills to the anti-corruption and compliance segment with a sizeable team in Hong Kong. The firm has an impressive record in defending clients against US investigations, leveraging the strength and expertise of a number of former US prosecutors and investigators within the Hong Kong team. While much of its work remains confidential, it did represent Emirates in pursuing the recovery of $34m linked to an embezzlement scheme by a former employee at one of its offices in South Korea. Clients praise the team’s ‘expertise’, ‘quality of work’, ‘responsiveness’ and ‘collaborative spirit’. Vasu Muthyala, who previously served in the US Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), will ‘brave hell and high water to represent the interests of his clients’ and ‘understands not only what a prosecutor is seeking when asking a question, but why the question is being asked’. New York and Hong Kong based William McGovern, a former New York prosecutor and branch chief in the SEC Division of Enforcement, is ‘smart’, ‘solutions-oriented’, ‘responsive’ and ‘has a measured and mature approach to difficult issues’. Shaun Wu is another key partner.

Shearman & Sterling has built significant market presence in Asia, particularly in China, through its Hong Kong team. It has worked on many of the biggest investigations in Asia, including conducting over 20 investigations in China for GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), resulting from whistleblower reports, audit findings and inquiries by Chinese regulators; the firm had previously represented GSK in the headline criminal bribery investigation in China, which was the first time a foreign company had faced criminal charges in the jurisdiction and led to partner Brian Burke being appointed as interim general counsel at GSK in China. Burke is ‘knowledgeable and capable’ and has ‘a phenomenal ability to recall facts and focus in on the most pertinent issues’.

Sidley Austin’s Hong Kong team has impressive regional coverage, frequently handling investigations in multiple jurisdictions, including in North, South and South-East Asia. The team is especially highly regarded for its FCPA expertise, with Asia Pacific head of compliance and investigations Yuet Ming Tham recognised for her white-collar, compliance and anti-corruption experience. The team also features a number of native speakers of Asian languages and has particular experience in healthcare, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, energy and financial services.

Hong Kong-based Mini vandePol is chair of Baker McKenzie’s global compliance and investigations group. Her Hong Kong team is very much at the forefront of the global practice and features a number of senior disputes specialists that have built up significant experience in this segment. The firm has an excellent record in China-based investigations and in jurisdictions throughout Asia Pacific. Cynthia Tang and Anthony Poon are also recommended.

DLA Piper’s Hong Kong team advises a range of multinational corporates and a number of Asia-based businesses. The firm has represented big-name clients in significant internal compliance investigations, including those related to FCPA concerns. Cybercrime and data fraud investigations are a growing element of the practice. Sammy Fang is an increasingly prominent practitioner and leads the firm’s China litigation and regulatory group.

Debevoise & Plimpton LLP has a number of senior-level litigators that are now at the forefront of white-collar and regulatory defence work in Asia. Much of the Hong Kong office’s practice centres on financial services and private wealth, and it is able to leverage the firm’s global standing in anti-corruption and compliance. Mark Johnson is one of Hong Kong’s premier litigators and has a significant focus on white-collar and regulatory defence matters across Asia.

Gibson Dunn is another major global player in this segment. Kelly Austin launched the firm’s Hong Kong office in 2010 and has been steadily building its Asia profile in investigations, regulatory compliance and anti-corruption since then. The practice centres on government and internal investigations, including a high degree of FCPA-related work. The Hong Kong team continues to expand its regional outlook, dealing with jurisdictions as far afield as Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Egypt. Its broad client base includes private equity houses, banks, healthcare businesses, and technology, media and telecoms companies.

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP is now a recognised force in the anti-corruption and compliance sector thanks to the presence of senior practitioners Bradley Klein and Steve Kwok in its Hong Kong office. Klein has represented clients in Asia over many years in relation to international investigations, regulatory enforcement actions and compliance issues, while Kwok joined the firm in 2016, having previously served as the US DOJ’s attaché in the US Embassy in Beijing from November 2013 to January 2016; as a Mandarin-speaking former US prosecutor, he is a rare commodity in Hong Kong.

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP is building its presence in Hong Kong through partner Tatman Savio and senior consultant Vena Cheng. Both have deep experience of FCPA-related investigations and white-collar criminal defence matters for multinationals. Much of the Hong Kong team’s work centres on mainland China and the rest of Asia.

Dechert is another big global player in anti-corruption and compliance, with Kareena Teh building the firm’s presence in Asia from Hong Kong. The team now covers a broad geographic region and advises clients in multiple industries, including oil and gas, life sciences and financial services. The Hong Kong team also draws on the resources and expertise of colleagues in other offices, particularly Beijing, London and New York.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer is building a sizeable team in Hong Kong that is expanding its market share of large-scale and cross-jurisdictional investigations. The Hong Kong group features a number US-qualified litigators with extensive FCPA expertise. John Choong and William Robinson are the key partners.

Mayer Brown JSM has significant FCPA and anti-money laundering expertise, coupled with an extensive presence in Asia. Several partners in Hong Kong have turned their attentions to this area, advising a number of major multinationals and Asia-based businesses. Susanne Harris is recommended for cross-border financial services sector investigations.

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