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BCLP nabs Korea practice head from Mayer Brown

3 minute read

REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

  • Kwon Lee will lead BCLP's Korea practice from New York

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(Reuters) - Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner on Wednesday announced it has tapped cross-border deal maker Kwon Lee, who was most recently global head of Mayer Brown's Korea practice, to lead its own Korea practice.

Lee was also the co-head of Mayer Brown's U.S.-Asia real estate practice. He will be based out of BCLP's New York office and a partner in its global real estate group.

Neither Mayer Brown or BCLP have a presence in Seoul, which has seen office closures by Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, McDermott Will & Emery and Clifford Chance over the past three years. Mayer Brown has locations in several other East Asian hubs, while BCLP on its website says it has offices or partnerships with local law firms in China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Myanmar and Singapore.

Lee, who has represented pension funds, financial institutions, construction firms and served as an investment advisor to South Korean government entities and pension funds, said he found BCLP to be very accommodating and flexible.

Those qualities are essential for working with clients in South Korea, Lee said. The time difference alone can be a challenge, as there is a 13-hour difference between New York City and Seoul, he added.

"Not every law firm is fit to work for Asia clients or Korean clients," Lee said. "You need to have a culture, you need to have the right fit, work style, to work with Korean clients. You need to be a bit more accommodating, a bit more flexible, very dedicated."

BCLP touted Lee's experience handling different types of real estate transactions, as well as his experience in doing cross-border deals with Korean and non-Korean clients. The firm said Lee is often invited to chair or present at real estate forums in France, Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea.

"He has an exceptional reputation in the global real estate market, particularly as it concerns cross-border deals in Korea and the surrounding region," Andrew Auerbach, the U.S. regional leader of the firm’s global real estate department, said in a statement.

Auerbach's U.K. counterpart, Samant Narula, said in a statement there are "tremendous synergies" between Lee's work and the firm's work in Europe.

Lee joined Mayer Brown in 2015 from Lee International IP & Law Group, a Seoul, South Korea-based law firm where he was the managing partner.

A spokeswoman for Mayer Brown said the firm wished Lee well in his new role, and declined to say who would succeed him in his former practice leadership roles.

Mayer Brown announced new hires of its own on Wednesday, adding corporate partner Thomas Horenkamp and counsel Adam Arnett in Chicago.

David Thomas reports on the business of law, including law firm strategy, hiring, mergers and litigation. He is based out of Chicago. He can be reached at d.thomas@thomsonreuters.com and on Twitter @DaveThomas5150.

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