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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.