Business of Law
Firms Chase White-Collar Defense Work in Asia as U.S. Investigations Persist
Posted Aug 4, 2011 4:26 AM CST
By Molly McDonough
While federal prosecutors in the U.S. are pursuing dozens of cases under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in an effort to root out bribery in Asia and beyond, law firms are beefing up practices to advise clients who can face millions of dollars in fines to resolve claims of wrongdoing.
Asia Lawyer reports that several large firms, including Debevoise & Plimpton, Kirkland & Ellis, and Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, "have recruited or relocated investigation specialists to Asia."
But despite this interest in growing practice area, Asian Lawyer reports that some are skeptical that white-collar criminal defense will rise as a marquee practice where corporate work reigns.
"It's going to be hard to sustain that in Asia because it's not flow business that's going to pay the rent every couple of months," William Barron, the Hong Kong-based senior Asia partner for Davis Polk & Wardwell, tells the publication. Barron says his firm usually brings in FCPA work through its current client relationships with banks, corporations or investments funds.
New York-based litigation boutique Kobre & Kim, however, is banking on a growing need for a stand-alone firm to handle FCPA work for directors or senior officers.