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Rajah & Tann Asia “The Lawyers Who Know Asia”

ALB marks 15th edition of Japan Law Awards in style

The 15th ALB Japan Law Awards, held at the Grand Hyatt Tokyo on June 13, was a resounding success, with the who’s-who of the Japanese legal industry, including in-house counsel, private practice lawyers and corporate executives, gracing the event.

The event saw Nishimura & Asahi, walk away with the biggest award of the night – the Japan Law Firm of the Year. The firm won in six categories, as did fellow Japanese Big Four firms Nagashima Ohno & Tsunematsu and Mori Hamada & Matsumoto.

Nishimura also claimed the titles of Young Lawyer of the Year (for Yuki Oi), Japan Deal Firm of the Year, and Restructuring and Insolvency Law Firm of the Year. Meanwhile, Nagashima Ohno won Dispute Resolution Lawyer of the Year (for Oki Mori), Healthcare and Life Sciences Law Firm of the Year, Real Estate Law Firm of the Year and Regulatory and Compliance Law Firm of the Year. Mori Hamada & Matsumoto’s haul included Banking and Financial Services Law Firm of the Year, Japan Intellectual Property Law Firm of the Year and Tax and Trusts Law Firm of the Year.

Among international firms, Herbert Smith Freehills claimed two titles, including the International Arbitration Law Firm of the Year. Davis Polk & Wardwell won International Deal Firm of the Year, and was also recognised for its role in three award-winning deals, while Morrison & Foerster was declared the International Intellectual Property Law Firm of the Year.

In the individual categories, Clifford Chance’s Reiko Sakimura won the BMW Award Woman Lawyer of the Year. Hiroo Atsumi of Atsumi & Sakai walked away with Managing Partner of the Year award while the Dealmaker of the Year title was claimed by Akifusa Takada of Baker & McKenzie (Gaikokuho Joint Enterprise).

And in the in-house categories, the T&D Associates Award Innovative In-House Team of the Year award went to Softbank Group while the Baker McKenzie Award Japan In-House Team of the Year award was won by IBM Japan. IBM also won the title of In-House Lawyer of the Year for Anthony Luna.

KPMG adds to Asia legal presence

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.”

Latham & Watkins

Clifford Chance loses Korea head

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.

HONG KONG HK

KMW expands in HK with partner duo from Mayer Brown

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.