PERKINS Coie, one of the United States' largest law firms, yesterday celebrated the opening of its first Hongkong office. It is the second of three branch offices Perkins Coie is opening in Asia to further tap what it sees as growing opportunities in the region. A Taipei office, led by nine lawyers and legal assistants, was established in June last year. Perkins Coie, which has long links with Asia, also intends to open in Japan when an end is in sight to the country's deep recession. Mr Robert Mucklestone, a Perkins Coie senior partner, has transferred from the US to serve as resident partner in Hongkong. He will head the new office in Citibank Plaza, along with newly recruited lawyers James Tsang and Michael McGowen, who have much experience operating in Hongkong. Perkins Coie, which specialises in corporate law, is particularly keen to further exploit the China market, where it has been doing business for more than 20 years. It also sees some future potential in Vietnam, once the US embargo on trade with the country is lifted. Mr Dennis Bekemeyer, Perkins Coie's managing partner, said the group had chosen to expand in Asia irrespective of the recession dogging the legal trade in the US. He conceded that Perkins Coie would find tough competition from other international legal firms in Hongkong, but described its potential market in the region as huge.