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HERBERT Smith is expanding its Far East practice by establishing a new office in Singapore.
The City firm, which already operates a substantial international network, is also working with lawyers, clients and government agencies in China while it waits for permission from the Chinese Ministry of Justice to open in Shanghai.
The firm is hoping to be named in the Government's next round of practice licenses.
Partner Andrew Calderwood will leave Hong Kong for Singapore next month, while new partner Stephen Murray will move over from London. Jack Young will continue to handle Chinese work out of Herbert Smith's Hong Kong office.
Charles Plant, London-based partner responsible for international practice, says the new office is being opened in response to calls from clients in Singapore who currently rely on the Hong Kong office for legal services.
"We've had an office in Hong Kong for the last 10 years but that predominantly services clients from mainland China and Hong Kong itself," says Plant. "We have clients who want us to be present in the Singapore region."
Plant says Calderwood and Murray will initially operate alone, but the intention is to add at least four assistants to the team in the coming months.
"We think that the work to be done in Singapore is predominantly project finance, international banking and securities work and Andrew Calderwood and Stephen Murray between them cover that area," he says.
"The Singapore office will work closely with the Hong Kong office and between the two of them they will cover the region.
"We would hope also that we will be able to do some arbitration, construction and shipping work, but the real motivation for this initiative stems from those key areas."
Senior partner Edward Walker-Arnott says the Far East is currently "the most dynamic region in the world".
"We have a thriving and successful office in Hong Kong from which we can service part of the region," says Walker-Arnott. "These moves will enable us to be fully responsive to the needs of our clients throughout the Far East."