Taylor Wessing’s Singaporean strategic alliance firm RHT will join the UK firm’s international network and change its name to RHTLaw Taylor Wessing, effective from 16 March.
The Singaporean firm was founded in May 2011 by a group of partners spun off from KhattarWong, one of the City-state’s largest firms. The group of 24 partners and 100 staff was led by former KhattarWong managing partner Tan Chong Huat, who is now the managing partner of RHT and its head of corporate and securities practice.
RHT currently has more than 60 fee-earners including 29 partners. It will be the 14th office in Taylor Wessing’s network, which spreads across Europe, the Middle East and Asia, and will take Taylor Wessing’s fee-earner headcount to over 800.
“Singapore’s an incredibly important financial centre in its own right and a key regional hub for many economies in Asia, where our clients are increasingly active and have more significant businesses,” said Taylor Wessing managing partner Tim Eyles. “The addition of RHT Law to Taylor Wessing is the natural next step for us as part of our goal to expand into the growth economies.”
Subhas Anandan, senior partner of RHT Law, said the cooperation between the two firms over the past six months can be taken as a good indication of the promising future of a tighter relationship.
“Joining Taylor Wessing will further internationalise our business and maximise the opportunities in this dynamic region,” said Anandan.
RHT’s joining as a member of Taylor Wessing does not require regulatory approval from Singapore’s Ministry of Law, due to the structure of the Taylor Wessing group, which is comparable to the organisation of the ’big four’ accounting firms.
Taylor Wessing is a group that comprises a number of member firms that are separate legal entities and separately registered law practices in particular jurisdictions. Although they are separate entities, the firms across the group share a common brand, IT and practice management system, human resources policies, business development and marketing initiatives, and the same quality standards.
Each member distributes its profits among its own partnership but all members are obligated to contribute to a central investment fund for future development and expansion of the group.
RHTLaw Taylor Wessingwill remain solely a Singapore law practice and will not be an affiliate, branch or subsidiary of any of the other member firms of the Taylor Wessing group.
“The majority of our top 100 clients are headquartered outside of the UK. It’s increasingly important for us to have strong and creditable international offerings. So we’ve chosen a structure that allows us to achieve that,” said Eyles.
“Our structure allows us to remain dynamic in our relationship with our member firms and clients in different jurisdictions and achieve what a single partnership is less able to achieve in today’s global markets.
“Our group is as integrated as it could possibly be, with uniformed service standards across the firm. What we don’t do is impose the same hourly rates and profitability requirements across different jurisdictions driven by one single global partnership.
“Our structure allows us to reflect on different dynamics in different markets, enables lawyers and partners to operate in accordance with each local market’s needs and conditions in keeping their competitive edges,” Elyes added.
Taylor Wessing has been pursuing its international strategy since 2010 with a focus on expansion into the growth economies of Asia and the Middle East. The firm’s next goal is to find the right partner in Hong Kong, with which it can deepen its north Asia presence.
Given Singapore’s growing strategic importance, other UK firms are also considering options to strengthen their presence there. Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, which closed its Singapore office in 2007, is understood to be applying for a Qualifying Foreign Law Practice (QFLP) license for its planned relaunch in the city.
“We’re reviewing our platform in Asia as part of a regular review and Singapore, as an important business hub for South East Asia, is clearly one of the options,” said a Freshfields spokesman.
Linklaters, whose Joint Law Venture partner Allen & Gledhill is currently in tie-up talks with Allen & Overy, is also understood to be applying for a QFLP license.
Currently, six international firms hold a QFLP licence (5 December 2008).