Heller Ehrman White & McAuliffe has hired Denton Wilde Sapte's Hong Kong managing partner and his entire litigation and dispute resolution team after a strategic re-think led the firm to close down all of its Asian offices on August 1.

Denton's loss is Heller Ehrman's gain. Martin Downey has 19 years' experience as a litigator in the Hong Kong market, 17 of them with Denton. He is joined by fellow partner David Hall-Jones, plus the eight other lawyers and eight support staff who made up the whole team at Denton.

The deal is the latest move in Heller Ehrman's Asian expansion. Last June it hired a 19-lawyer team from Siao Wen & Leung, one of Hong Kong's biggest local firms, and in March this year it opened an office in Beijing with the aim of having 10 lawyers stationed there by year-end.

The addition of an international litigation and arbitration team will complement the Siao Wen corporate team and should be able to leverage Heller Ehrman's international client list.

"We spoke to a number of firms that were interested in acquiring us as a team," says Downey. "But we were really impressed by the vision and commitment to Asia here at Heller Ehrman. Our goal now is to re-develop our practice and drive it forward."

The team will advise on cross-border litigation in Hong Kong and will also act as advisers in the growing arbitration centres of Singapore and Beijing. Heller Ehrman, a San Francisco firm, is best known in the US for its litigation expertise and the firm is hoping that in conjunction with its Californian high-tech experience this will prove to be a client-winner in China and elsewhere in the region. The firm has already represented Huawei Technologies in its defence of Cisco's Texas-based lawsuit – the case was eventually settled out of court in July.