Coudert Brothers announced yesterday that three of its Asian-based partners have been elected to its seven-person board, giving huge recognition to the Asian practice in such a global law firm.

Christopher H. Stephens, a finance and M&A partner based in Hong Kong, has been elected Vice Chairman of the firm. Stephens has been in Hong Kong for eight years having spent 12 years in the firm's New York office. He concentrates on investment, M&A, project, facility and telecom finance deals including the 2004 RMB1.03 billion project financing of an integrated liquid chemicals storage and logistics terminal facility in Shanghai for Vopak Shanghai Logistics and its sponsors, Koninklijke Vopak N.V. and Shanghai Chemical Industry Park Development Co.

"I am honored to have been selected Vice Chairman of such a venerable firm," said Stephens. "I look forward to building on Coudert's 150-year history of providing global strategies and solutions to the world's most important companies."

Also elected to the board are Lance Miller, the managing partner of the Singapore office, who is a member of Coudert's global finance practice and Jingzhou Tao, the managing partner of the Beijing office, who is a leading member of the firm's China practice. Miler has run the Singapore office since 2000, although he has previously worked in the firm's Tokyo and Bangkok offices. Tao has worked in the firm's Beijing office since 1991, having worked in Paris for six years before that.

According to the firm, this is the first time that any major international law firm has drawn such a significant part of its central management team from Asia. "Asia is perhaps our most dynamic region," said Stephens, "and our partners recognize its long term importance to our US and European clients and markets."

The other lawyers elected to the board are Clyde E. Rankin, III, a partner in the firm's corporate practice in New York who has been named Chairman of Coudert Brothers; Darrell Prescott also of New York office, who co-chairs the Coudert's global antitrust practice; Edward H. Tillinghast, III, the managing partner of the New York office, who is head of the firm's global financial restructuring and insolvency practice; and Eric Deltour of the Brussels office, who is a member of the firm's corporate and M&A practices.

Long known as the most international of US law firms, Coudert Brothers was the first US law firm to open practices in Paris, London, Singapore, China and Russia. In China it was the first foreign law firm to be invited into the country in 1979, just three years after the end of the cultural revolution.