Shearman & Sterling is upping its Asian profile by linking up with Singapore practice Stamford for a joint venture.
Stamford is the firm that leading local lawyer Lee Suet Fern set up after she quit the Wong Partnership last year (The Lawyer, 18 December 2000). A licence is expected to be granted shortly.
The Wall Street firm has been in Singapore since 1995 but it did not apply for a joint venture licence when they were introduced last year.
A senior Shearmans source says that seven-partner Stamford is an ideal fit, as it plans to focus on M&A and capital markets. “We try to keep a true partnership ethos, so the thought of [a joint venture with] a very large full-service firm was quite difficult for us,” he says.
The move is a blow to Clifford Chance. The firm had won a licence to form a joint venture with the Wong Partnership, with which it had a long-term relationship, but Lee's departure meant that the joint venture collapsed. Clifford Chance is now the only international magic circle member in Singapore without a local partner firm.
It is understood that Lee decided to hook up with Shearmans because the Singapore authorities wanted a Wall Street firm for a joint venture. The other US firms with joint venture licences in Singapore are White & Case, Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe and Baker & McKenzie.
As well as its Singapore practice, Shearmans also has offices in Hong Kong and Tokyo. Stamford was unavailable for comment.
See the feature on Singapore joint ventures next week.