Deacons expands in Far East

Asia-Pacific firm Deacons Graham & James has announced the expansion of its Far East practice by setting up an association with Singapore firm Yeo Wee Kiong.

The firm is also setting up its own office in the country and has applied to the Singapore Government for an international legal licence.

Under Singapore laws foreign law firms cannot practice domestic law and cannot merge or share income with local firms. But Yeo Wee Kiong is allowed to work in formal association with Deacons.

Yeo Wee Kiong, a 10-lawyer firm, will take care of Deacons' domestic legal work in Singapore while the new Deacons Singapore office, which will be headed by finance partner Eric Sedlak, currently head of the firm's Vietnam office, will undertake international work.

Deacons hopes to have the licence for the international office granted before the end of the year. The Singapore practice will be Deacons' tenth Asian office.

Deacons Graham & James was formed when Hong Kong firm Deacons, Australia's Sly & Weigall and US practice Graham & James merged in 1995. The merger created the second-largest international practice in Asia after Baker & McKenzie.

Deacons' chief executive, Don Boyd, said the move, which brings the firm's number of Asian offices to 10, constitutes part of its ongoing strategy to become the number one firm in the region.

He said: “We are well aware that many of our Australian competitors have failed to make an impact in Singapore. We do, however, have significant experience in Asia and a strong regional presence.”