The energy business is far and away the leading reason why a growing number of large Texas firms have opened offices halfway around the world in the booming market of China.
“The reason we decided to open an office in Asia is we regard ourselves as the pre-eminent law firm in the world representing energy clients,” says Stuart Schaffer, a partner in Baker Botts, which opened an office in Hong Kong in 2005 and has asked the Beijing Municipal Justice Bureau for permission to open an office in Beijing.
“We open in key energy hubs,” says Schaffer, head of the global projects group at the 717-lawyer Houston-based firm. “That’s why we are in London and Moscow and Dubai [United Arab Emirates]. We felt the biggest hole in our network of foreign offices was Asia.”
Baker Botts isn’t the only large Texas firm established in Hong Kong, Beijing or Shanghai, or considering it. According to a report in November 2005 in The American Lawyer, a Texas Lawyer affiliate, 39 of the 250 largest U.S. firms have offices in at least one of those Chinese cities. Other Texas-based firms in China include Fulbright & Jaworski, Vinson & Elkins and Andrews Kurth. The management committee of Dallas-based Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld is expected to vote today on opening an office in Beijing.