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US firm makes Sydney Debut

US firm makes Sydney Debut

Minneapolis-based international law firm Dorsey & Whitney cemented its Asia-Pacific region presence yesterday by launching a Sydney office, to service clients across the region. The new…

Minneapolis-based international law firm Dorsey & Whitney cemented its Asia-Pacific region presence yesterday by launching a Sydney office, to service clients across the region.

The new office will focus solely on US law, providing US corporate - including capital markets and cross-border M&A - advice to its Asia-Pacific region clients.

In Sydney for the launch this week, managing partner Marianne Short said although the decision for the move was made before the global financial crisis hit, the firm decided it made sense to continue with their original plans through the slowing economy.

"This is part of our long-term commitment to our strategy to be a truly international firm, especially in line with our Shanghai and Hong Kong office," she said. "When capital markets pick back up we'll now be able to provide a nice little triangle (between Asia, Sydney and the US)."

In the US, Dorsey & Whitney has so far managed to avoid redundancies, a positive notion given the numerous lawyers who have already lost their jobs at US firms.

"We keep reading about how many firms are making layoffs," said Short. "I think a firm like Dorsey with its mid-western roots makes us look a little broader and able to be a little less reactive. Our clients have been challenged in this economy, yet all of them are confident about their positions."

John Chrisman will head up the new office with Australian-trained associate Johanna O'Shea. Chrisman said the focus of the Sydney base will be to provide support to clients in Australia, China and India, while assisting wider global needs.

Both Short and Chrisman agreed they were cautiously optimistic about the future of the firm in withstanding the global recession, as well as the potential for growth that the current climate can provide.

"Recessions do all sorts of things," said Chrisman. "But sometimes they can also define the next upturn and who will be the bigger players in it," said Chrisman.

- Angela Priestley

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