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January 25, 2011 2:46 PM

Locke Lord Open for Business in Hong Kong

Posted by Anthony Lin

By Jessica Seah

Hoping to leverage its expertise in some premium niche markets, Locke Lord Bissell & Liddell has launched a Hong Kong office with a former DLA Piper partner. Brad Markoff, a REIT and capital markets attorney, has joined Locke Lord to head up the new office.

Hong Kong will be the first Asian office for the 650-lawyer Houston-based firm, which has 11 offices across the United States and one in London. "Our Hong Kong office expands Locke Lord's footprint across Asia and also fulfills one of our strategic goals for smart growth," firm chairman Jerry Clements said in a statement announcing the new office.

Locke Lord joins a crowded legal market that has drawn even more attention in the past year as Hong Kong's stature as a financial center and gateway to the mainland has grown.

Markoff, who specializes in real estate investment trusts (REITs), left DLA Piper at the beginning of 2010 and most recently ran his own boutique investment firm, The Kohlkian Group. He joined DLA Piper in 2005 from Alston & Bird, first heading up DLA Piper's Raleigh, N.C., office. He relocated to Hong Kong for DLA in 2008.

Markoff will serve as Locke Lord's Asia practice head and Hong Kong managing partner, the firm said. He will focus on developing new business opportunities for the firm in China, Korea, Singapore, the Philippines, and India. The Hong Kong office also will be supported by Houston-based partners Tom Tong, a litigator who speaks several Chinese dialects, and Greg Burch, the head of Locke Lord's construction and East Asia practice groups.

According to Markoff, the firm's Asia practice will leverage existing expertise in areas in which the firm is strongest: private equity, energy, insurance, real estate capital markets, and financing work. "We are not trying to be all things and all people," he says. "We want to focus on our existing strengths, especially in financing, but not just the bread-and-butter kind of advice, hopefully more of a complex financing structure type of work."

[Correction, 1/26/2011, 9 a.m. EST: Details regarding law firm entrants to the Hong Kong market were incorrect and have been taken out of the third paragraph above; the original post incorrectly noted several firms as ones who've recently established a presence in Hong Kong, when in fact they have been there for several years--the recent trend is U.S. law firms establishing Hong Kong practices. Locke Lord is opening an office at this point, but will not be practicing local law.]

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