MINTER ELLISON has decided to close its US office based in San Francisco at the end of this year.
The firm has had a San Francisco office since 2001, when it moved from New York following the September 11 terrorist attacks.
Guy Templeton, Minters’ chief executive, said the decision to close the US office was made because the firm plans to focus on building its presence in Asia.
However, Templeton said Minters would continue to service its US clients with regular fly-in support from other offices.
“Really we want to focus more heavily on greater China — we are doing well there and want to deepen our links in that region. A lot of the value the US can bring to us is to do with inbound investment into Australia and we feel that we can address that work through regular visits to some of our clients and contacts in the US without the need for a presence,” Templeton said.
Among the firm’s US clients is the gaming heavyweight Las Vegas Sands, in Macau and Singapore, who the firm is servicing from its Asian offices.
“Frankly the US presence wasn’t of significant value to those clients, it was more the Asian presence,” Templeton said.
Minter Ellison currently has 45 lawyers in Hong Kong — and a growing presence in China with a PRC-qualified partner and staff in Shanghai.
The greater-China team is working with high-profile clients such as Leighton, Towngas, Computershare, Gap, the Hong Kong Government and Cathay Pacific.
San Francisco-based partner Richard Horton will return to Australia where it is expected he will focus on computer technology and solar technology work.
“Richard Horton’s skills are in high demand back in Australia and we think he’ll make a contribution back in the core part of the firm. He’s keen to be back and we are keen to have him back,” Templeton said.