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LINKLATERS & Paines senior partner, Charles Allen-Jones, is to head a new Law Society working party which aims to encourage ties with the Far East.
The group will support law firms already established in the the region and encourage others to tout for business there. It will concentrate on Malaysia, The Philippines, Indonesia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, Thailand, Japan, Vietnam and surrounding countries.
The group was set up by the Law Society's international committee and will have about eight members.
Allen-Jones, who set up Linklaters' Hong Kong office, was recommended to the society by former Slaughter and May partner Tim Freshwater, who chaired the China sub-committee and developed the idea for a Far East group.
Allen Jones said: "The English legal profession is stronger in the Far East than the American one and we want to keep it that way."
David Keating, chair of the society's international committee, said: "All these countries have growing economies and expanding infrastructure which can be tapped into. Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, is being rebuilt and oil drilling has begun in The Philippines. These countries are also becoming more politically stable."
A large part of the working party's brief will be to liaise with local bar associations, chambers of commerce and departments of trade and industry.
Foreign law firms have recently had trouble setting up in Vietnam because of restrictions imposed by the local bar.
Keating said: "We will advise foreign law firms on how to work around the restrictions as well as persuading local lawyers that they will benefit from free trade rather than adopting a protectionist stance.
"Rather than setting up in Singapore, where rent is very high, we might suggest that firms will be better off in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, which is not far away."