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DLA Piper hires corporate expert, names partners

The global law firm names six new partners in Asia, including Kit Kwok who was recently hired to boost the firm's corporate practice in China.
DLA Piper, a global law firm with a growing presence in Asia, has boosted its China corporate expertise with the recent hire of Kit Kwok, who will focus on advising multinationals on legal and regulatory issues related to both investment and commercial activities in China. The firm, which employs more than 3,700 lawyers worldwide, also announced yesterday that it has promoted six lawyers, including Kwok, to partners in Asia as part of an annual exercise that saw 53 lawyers join the firmÆs partnership globally.

One lawyer in Asia has been promoted to the role of legal director, which was introduced by the firm in January 2007 to create a new level between associate and partner with the aim of recognising the fee-earning capabilities, management skills and specialist knowledge of senior associates.

ôThese promotions follow a series of recent strategic hires in our Asia offices,ö DLA PiperÆs Asia managing director, Alastair Da Costa, said in a press release. ôThey form part of a strategy optimising our team at a time when clients need the best legal and business advice to deal with heightened uncertainty. Asia remains vitally important to companies, which is why we are also deepening our investment, talent, and services here.ö

Kwok joins from Roosevelt Sino Retailers where he was chief operating officer and legal counsel overseeing all legal and operational matters for the company. He has practiced in Hong Kong and China since 1998 and is a familiar face at DLA Piper, having worked at the firm before he joined the corporate world. He also has legal practice experience from Baker & McKenzie and Johnson Stokes & Master and, according to a press release, has acted for and advised a diverse range of clients on all aspects of their M&A activities in China, including structuring, due diligence, documentation, regulatory compliance and tax planning. He also brings ôsubstantial experienceö advising financial services companies on ChinaÆs regulatory framework and the formation of joint ventures in the countryÆs fund management and futures brokerage industries.

Kwok will be based in Shanghai, but will work closely with other members of the corporate team based in Beijing and Hong Kong.

ôKit is a strong addition to our Shanghai and broader Asia region corporate team,ö says Da Costa. ôHe joins us at a time when global corporate transactions are even more complex and challenging and clients need to strategically position themselves to minimise their exposure to risk, access markets, and maintain and improve margins.ö

Kwok noted in the same release that his decision to re-join DLA Piper was driven by the firmÆs rapid growth on ChinaÆs corporate scene, its strong platform, culture of teamwork, depth of talent and a track record that enables it to ôseamlessly bring together cross-border teams on large-scale, complex transactionsö.

Kwok is a US-qualified lawyer with a Juris Doctor degree from Hastings College of the Law of the University of California.

Of the new Asia partners, two are based in Hong Kong, two in Shanghai, and one each in Beijing and Tokyo. In addition to Kwok, they comprise:

- Chris Terry, who has been appointed to the firmÆs Greater China corporate group based in the Beijing office. His principal areas of practice include advisory related to the structuring of venture capital and private equity investments, as well as cross-border M&A and foreign investments in China.

- William Leung, who joined DLA Piper in 2001 and is based in Hong Kong. He handles a wide range of contentious matters including disputes involving commercial and building construction, with a particular emphasis in marine and air transport and related insurance matters. His experience also includes family law with an emphasis on clients with substantial cross-border assets.

- Michael Yau, who is based in Hong Kong and specialises in banking and finance law, including syndicated and bilateral lending, international trade finance, structured commodities finance, factoring, account receivables financing and acquisition finance.

- Claudio d'Agostino. During his more than 10 years in China, dÆAgostino has been involved in a broad variety of commercial and corporate matters with a focus on joint ventures, M&A and restructurings. He also advises on consumer goods matters, where he specialises in covering the full range of transaction issues across manufacturing, distribution, retail and franchising.

- Hajime Iwaki, who joined the firm in 2006 and is based in Tokyo. His principal areas of practice are corporate restructuring, M&A and dispute resolution and he frequently works with technology and software companies in the media and entertainment industries. His experience also includes copyright, licensing, cyber-space and privacy protection laws.

In addition, Sammy Fang, who heads DLA Piper's litigation and regulatory group in Beijing, has been promoted to legal director. Fang has extensive experience in dispute resolution, having assisted clients in a wide range of industries in China, Hong Kong, Australia, Singapore and Indonesia. He specialises in China-related disputes and investigations, ranging from product liability and crisis management to JV- and FDI-related disputes, corporate fraud and land acquisition problems.
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