The KPMG Global Legal Services network is pleased to announce that it has expanded its legal capabilities in Asia Pacific by establishing a new law firm in Hong Kong, known as SF Lawyers.
SF Lawyers is the newest member of the KPMG’s Global Legal Services network. It will initially commence operations with four senior hires and two senior associates joining either now or over the next few months, and with plans for around 20 lawyers in the first year. The four senior hires are Shirley Fu, Rodney Chen, Leo Tian and David Murray, and they will be supported by Alex Ma and Sherman Wong as senior associates. Brief details of the senior hire profiles are included below. An additional launch of legal services in Shanghai is expected in 2019.
Honson To, Chairman of KPMG Asia Pacific and China, says: “We warmly welcome SF Lawyers as the newest member of the KPMG Global Legal Services network, which has grown by 30 percent in 2018 alone, and has significant growth ambitions just beginning to be realised across the Asia Pacific region.”
“With increased global connectivity and the digitalisation of many business functions, SF Lawyers will be uniquely positioned to deliver on the needs of both domestic clients (including going outbound) and multinational clients entering or transacting in the Chinese market. Working in conjunction with KPMG, SF Lawyers will provide clients with legal services in key areas such as M&A and deals, and infrastructure projects. It will also offer technology enabled legal services, while leveraging significant investments in robotics, artificial intelligence and other technologies developed globally and in China through the KPMG Digital Ignition Centre.”
“The firm will also help provide clients with global legal solutions, leveraging our legal services practices across 76 jurisdictions, together with KPMG’s presence in 154 countries around the world”, To adds.
SF Lawyers will be operating in association with KPMG Law in Australia, which is led by Stuart Fuller, the former Global Managing Partner of King & Wood Mallesons. Fuller has recently moved to KPMG where he occupies the role of Asia Pacific Regional Leader for Legal Services.
Fuller says: “We are excited about the association between KPMG Law in Australia and SF Lawyers in Hong Kong, which is reflective of the increasingly important trade and business flows between the two jurisdictions. We are not trying to be a traditional law firm. Our approach is different, with a focus on offering our clients integrated global legal advice and solutions, where we are able to work seamlessly with existing KPMG clients who are looking for local and multijurisdictional counsel. As someone who has lived and worked in Hong Kong for 6 years, I am proud to see SF Lawyers as the newest entry to the network in Asia.”
Thirty-lawyer Malaysian firm Zain & Co. has become a member of Dentons. The firm joins existing Dentons member firms in Myanmar and Singapore to form the newly established Dentons ASEAN Region.
The 13-partner Zain was established in 1970. Led by managing partner Zain Azlan Zain Azahari, its key practice areas are banking and finance, corporate, dispute resolution, real estate, and intellectual property. It has also established a number of new practice areas, including cybersecurity, blockchain technology, IP litigation, high net worth Islamic estate planning, and film and media. Zain has been part of Dentons’ NextLaw referral network since last year. ”
The launch today of our expansion in Malaysia with one of the best firms there will help us build on our currently strong South East Asia presence,” said Philip Jeyaretnam SC, Dentons’ global vice-chair and ASEAN CEO, in a statement.
Dentons, which operates as a Swiss verein, now has a presence in 74 countries globally and it is currently finalising a combination with Indonesia’s Hanafiah Ponggawa & Partners.
Kim Hyun-suk, the head of Clifford Chance’s Korea office, will soon leave the firm, marking the latest in a series of exits from the UK firm’s Seoul operation. The Korea practice will now be led by Hong Kong-based partner Richard Lee and Seoul-based counsel Bong-Sang Cho, Clifford Chance confirmed to ALB. Kim has been based in Seoul since Clifford Chance established an office there in 2012, becoming one of the first international firms to do so. He began his relationship with the firm in 2009 while based in Hong Kong, where he progressed to partner.
Since last year, Clifford Chance has lost four lawyers who focus on the Korea market, including Kwangwoo Kim, a former associate who is now an executive director at Goldman Sachs, and Angela Ryu who was based in Hong Kong, but is now with Allen & Overy in the UK. The firm, which assists international corporations, banks and financial institutions, and regulatory bodies in Korea, now has three counsels based in Seoul, according to its website. There has been a fair amount of movement with Seoul’s legal market recently.
Last year, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett closed its Seoul office, while US firms Shearman & Sterling and Arnold & Porter have also reportedly gained licenses to establish Korea offices this year. Korea opened up its legal market in 2012, following free trade agreements with the US and the European Union – agreements which are now under scrutiny as the possibility of no-deal Brexit approaches. There are currently five UK-headquartered firms operating in Korea.
King & Wood Mallesons has hired two partners in Hong Kong: Ashley Wong joins the firm as its local aviation head from Mayer Brown, while Wang Yu joins as a partner from Morrison & Foerster, where he was of counsel.
Wong, has over 15 years of experience in aviation matters, advising airlines, leasing companies, maintenance and repair organisations and other market players on aircraft portfolio acquisitions and disposals, pre-delivery payments financing, sale and lease-back arrangements, acquisitions and disposals of new and used aircraft and engines, dry leasing and wet leasing of aircraft, long-term airframe and engine maintenance arrangements and other commercial arrangements.
Wang has more than 10 years of experience advising on securities offerings, private equity and other corporate transactions. He represents corporate clients, investment banks and private equity funds on transactional matters including capital markets, private equity and financial derivative products. Wong and Wang join KWM a couple of months after the firm hired Ling Huang as a partner in its Beijing office.
New Delhi-based APT Legal, will be opening new offices in Mumbai, Jaipur, Allahabad (Prayagraj) and Patna. Having started out as Chamber Practice, APT Legal has been representing clients both in the private sector and public sector, pan-India.
The firm handles litigations before the Supreme Court, high courts and appellate tribunals. The firm’s partners focus on practices including mining and metal, arbitration, civil, corporate, and commercial laws. It also advises on insolvency and bankruptcy, white collar crime, competition, energy, environment and forest laws and telecom regulations, among others.
APT Legal’s Delhi office has two partners supported by 10 Associates while the Mumbai, Jaipur, Allahabad and Patna offices will be led each by a partner along with three associates.
Clifford Chance, has launched a new innovation lab in Singapore, named Create+65, to identify, incubate, test and pilot new legal technology solutions.
Create+65 was designed to bring together venture capitalists, start-ups, product owners and developers, universities and private institutions with the goal of developing and testing new legal services tools and solutions.
Subject to their position in the innovation cycle, participants that join Create+65 would have access to insights from the firm and its clients about technology solutions that target the delivery of legal services as well as feedback and mentoring, data sets and connection to potential investment and/or funding vehicles.
Users would also have access to workspaces and gain the ability to partner with Clifford Chance to develop innovative legal technology solutions.
The firm has shown a drive to lead in tech this year. In April, it launched ‘Clifford Chance’s Tech Academy’, a global training programme dedicated to learning and development in the tech space. Meanwhile, in December, along with Latham & Watkins, the firm invested in Reynen Court, a tech venture sometimes called the app Store for legal tech. T
he latest initiative is supported by the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) and in collaboration with Future Law Innovation Programme (FLIP) by the Singapore Academy of Law (SAL).
Shanghai law firm Llinks Law Offices has ended its three-year-long association with boutique Hong Kong law firm Vivien Teu & Co, and entered into a new tie-up with Dennis Fong & Co.
Following a string of departures, Vivien Teu, which had 14 lawyers in April, now has just two: Founding partner Vivien Teu and senior associate Christina Suen. Llinks and Vivien Teu established their association in April 2015, shortly after the Hong Kong firm was launched.
Llinks said that back then the two firms had the same vision of offering specialist and one-stop China and Hong Kong legal services with a focus on funds, asset management, IPOs and M&A. “However, we decided to terminate the association as we found we no longer shared the same vision,” said David Yu, managing partner of Llinks.
Dennis Fong, the new alliance firm, was formed after a five-lawyer team led by Fong left Viven Teu & Co. Fong specializes in IPOs, M&A and general corporate finance and commercial matters, which is in line with Llinks’ main areas of practice in Hong Kong. The firm now has nine lawyers, including two partners.
Managing partner David Yu said Dennis Fong was on the lookout for partner and associate-level hires in four practice areas: Corporate/M&A, capital markets, asset management and dispute resolution.
Denise Jong, the APAC managing partner of Reed Smith Richards Butler, has confirmed that up to 40 people could be leaving the firm soon, including partners, fee-earners and secretaries.
While the exact number is still up in the air, Jong confirmed to Leaders in Law that the firm is aware of the intentions of David Morrison and five other partners from the firm’s Hong Kong-based disputes team to join MinterEllison in January next year.
The other partners are believed to be William Barber, Alex Kaung, Eddy So, Nathan Dentice, and Desmond Yu. MinterEllison could not be reached for comment. In a media release supplied to ALB, Jong said that conflicts in any law firm “as large and complex as Reed Smith” are a fact of life.
“It is inevitable that, over time, certain representations taken by the firm pose issues for litigators whose clients might need to be adverse to an industry focus of the firm,” she said.
“Our Hong Kong office has a strong and diverse litigation group, as well as a leading corporate group in Hong Kong and Asia. Notwithstanding the departures, we will continue to have 20 partners and, in total, about 100 fee earners in our Hong Kong office, one of four offices in Asia.”
As bilateral hostilities between the world’s two largest economies persists, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman has recruited a litigation partner in New York who focuses on China-related disputes.
Geoffrey Sant joins from Dorsey & Whitney, where he was a New York partner in the firm’s trial department. Sant mostly helps Chinese companies and executives defend securities class actions and other commercial and employment claims before U.S. courts.
Sant will be a partner in Pillsbury’s New York office and spend “a substantial amount of time in Asia.” Fluent in Mandarin Chinese, he will primarily work out of the firm’s Beijing office and also spend time in Shanghai, Hong Kong and Taipei.
He joined Dorsey & Whitney in 2012 after spending four years with Morrison & Foerster; he became a partner at Dorsey in 2016.
The hire comes at a time when the United States and China are in an escalating battle over trade issues. Multiple rounds of high-level negotiations have taken place, but little progress has been made. Meanwhile, the Trump administration is tightening scrutiny of Chinese companies and individuals on the cybersecurity and intellectual property fronts.
Last week, the Department of Justice indicted a group of Chinese government officials for alleged trade secret theft. Also last week, the Department of Commerce banned all exports to Chinese semiconductor maker Fujian Jinhua Integrated Circuit Co. Ltd. amid intellectual property theft allegations.
Deborah Baum, Pillsbury’s Washington, D.C.-based litigation practice leader, said Sant’s ability to collaborate with Chinese clients and understand complex Chinese laws and documents will help serve the firm’s clients well.
In August, Pillsbury opened an intellectual property-focused Taipei office with trial lawyer Christopher Kao and patent specialist David Tsai. In 2016, it launched a Hong Kong office, led by former Clyde & Co global aviation finance head Paul Jebely, primarily focusing on commercial aircraft and private jets financing work. Sant said the financial services and aviation sectors—focuses for Pillsbury in Asia—are also rapidly expanding aspects of his practice.
The firm’s Beijing office, led by former Paul Hastings partner David Livdahl, was opened in 2014. The Shanghai office, led by IP litigation partner Jack Ko, was launched in 2006.
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