John Otoshi and David Zhang have found a new employer, having joined Latham & Watkins as partners in the firm's Hong Kong office. Both will work in Latham's corporate department and Zhang will join the greater China practice as well. Otoshi has been practicing law in Hong Kong since 1992 and Zhang since 1993.

Until last month Otoshi and Zhang were the Hong Kong partners for the New York firm Dewey Ballantine. It was announced in January that Dewey Ballantine had decided not to renew the lease on its Hong Kong office, effectively shutting down its Hong Kong practice in March.

Once this announcement had been made controversry erupted when it was reported that associates at Dewey Ballantine's annual New York dinner mocked the Hong Kong office in a song charged with racial overtones. Otoshi and Zhang were said to be understandably furious at the insult. Neither would comment on the situation.

In Latham & Watkins they join a firm with much more cultural sensitivity. It was named International Law Firm of the Year in 2002 by Chambers and has worked on one of the biggest deals of recent years in Asia, the $4.3 billion project financing for the Nanhai petrochemicals plant in Guangdong provice in China, representing the commercial lenders.

By joining the firm Otoshi and Zhang have tripled Latham's Hong Kong partner headcount to three. They will work closely with Latham's Hong Kong managing partner Mitchell Stocks. They are also bringing two former Dewey Ballantine associates with them to Latham.

"David and John are a welcome addition to our Hong Kong office and Asia team," says Stocks. "Their depth of experience in US corporate and securities matters will strengthen our corporate finance practice and enhance our mergers and acquisitions and private equity capabilities in the region. David complements our Greater China practice and will support our growing capital markets, corporate and restructuring activities in that major market."

The two will pursue deals in the capital markets, especially US securities work. They will also work on acquisitions and private equity investments by foreign firms into the region. They are rumoured to already have one China mandate which they have brought over with them, although this has not been confirmed.