Shearmans forms joint venture with Stamford

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.

The remaining licences are taken by UK practices: Linklaters & Alliance, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Allen & Overy and Lovells.

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.