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U.S. firms increasing their presence in China and Hong Kong

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett and Morgan & Finnegan have announced plans to expand their practices in both China and Hong Kong, including new hires for Simpson Thacher's Hong Kong practice and a new Shanghai office for Morgan & Finnegan.

Simpson Thacher has recruited Leiming Chen as a partner and Shaolin Luo as a counsel to enhance its mergers and acquisition practice in China. Simpson Thacher, a leading international firm, is also planning to apply for registration of a new office in Beijing.

The first U.S.-based intellectual property boutique to enter the Chinese legal market, Morgan & Finnegan, has opened a two-partner office in Shanghai, which will be led by Maria Lin and William Hu. The new office will offer trademark and patent prosecution services for U.S. companies with Chinese interests and help local clients raise venture capital.

Duane Morris makes its first move into Asian market
Duane Morris is expanding its international presence by opening its second office outside the U.S.

The Philadelphia-based firm has announced plans to set up a Singapore office within the next 12 months. Eduardo Ramos-Gomez, the New York-based corporate and international law partner, will manage the new office.

The firm is currently seeking two partners to join Eduardo, who has also served as a former Mexican ambassador to Singapore, Brunei and Burma.

Boston firms eyeing California
Several Boston firms are planning to boost their presence in the California market. The latest is Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, which has established a California base through the acquisition of the Palo Alto-based Reed Intellectual Property Law Group.

A California presence will help Mintz Levin better serve its large biotechnology clients, which include companies such as StemCells Inc., Merck, 454 Life Sciences and Neuromolecular Pharmaceuticals Inc.

The 450-lawyer firm is also planning to enhance its San Diego and Los Angeles office, which currently have two-person offices. The firm is not interested in large-scale mergers and plans to expand its corporate, intellectual property and litigation practices through small-scale acquisitions.

In January 2005, Boston-based firm Ropes & Gray acquired Palo Alto-based Fish & Neave. Last July, Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale & Dorr established a Palo Alto office, which now consists of 20 lawyers. Goodwin Procter is also planning to open an office in San Francisco this summer and may set up other offices in Silicon Valley and Los Angeles.

Four Washington, DC, firms raise salaries
A large number of firms with offices in Washington, DC, have already announced increases in associate salaries. This week, four more DC-based firms have followed suit.

Venable, WilmerHale, Arnold & Porter and Howrey have all decided to increase first-year salaries by $10,000 to $135,000.

Venable is raising first-year salaries by $10,000. WilmerHale announced salary increases across the board on their website. At WilmerHale, third-years will now receive $160,000, fourth-years will receive $180,000 and fifth-years will receive $200,000.

Lawyer Joke of the day
A man walked into the local Chamber of Commerce of a small town, obviously desperate. Seeing a man at the counter, the stranger asks, ''Is there a criminal attorney in town?''

To which the man behind the counter immediately replied, ''Yes, but we can't prove it yet!''

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP.

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