Baker & McKenzie expands Myanmar practice with new counsel hire

Baker & McKenzie has appointed its first Myanmar-qualified lawyer to its Bangkok-based Myanmar centre.

Saw Yu Win joins Bakers as a senior counsel from Yangon-based Myanmar Thanlwin Legal Services, which is in association with Southeast Asia law firm DFDL Mekong. She has 15 years of experience advising foreign clients in cross-border investment in the energy, mining and telecommunications sectors, as well as general corporate and commercial matters in the country, which is also known as Burma.

She is the first Myanmar-qualified lawyer to join the Myanmar centre of Baker & Mckenzie’s Bangkok office, which was launched at the beginning of this year. Three partners, Pornapa Thaicharoen, Khun Chirachai Okanurak and Sorachon Boonsong, are leading the Myanmar initiatives. According to Thaicharoen, the firm is in the process of recruiting two to three more Myanmar-qualified lawyers to expand the practice.

“There is so much potential in Myanmar given all the changes happening in the country. It is open to foreign investors and is making amendements in its laws and regulations to facilitate the new opportunities,” said Thaicharoen. “That’s why we want to grow our Myanmar capabilities.”

Earlier this year, the EU and US, along with other countries, agreed to suspend sanctions against Myanmar in recognition of “historic changes” following the formation of a new government in the spring of 2011. This has opened the country’s doors to an influx of foreign investment. The country’s admission to the ASEAN Economic Community, effective from 2015, is expected to bring more investment opportunities to the country and the region.

It is understood that Bakers would consider opening an office in Myanmar when regulations permitted it, but Thaicharoen noted that “we still have to wait for more [legal and political] certainty on the ground”.