White & Case drops friend to go it alone in Singapore

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  • Shrinking Law Firm

    W&C continues to scale back in Asia, by dropping local content, first in Jakarta a few years ago, then Bangkok last year and now Singapore. What's left in Singapore is not so different from other offshore firms, and that's the problem. The lawyers left in W&C Singapore don't offer any qualitative advantages over their peers, just higher billing rates and a lack of familiarity with the market.

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  • Totally Agree

    I agree with the last comment. They lost their entire Indonesian practice with the departures of Brad Roach, Bertie Mehigan and Brian Wesol last year. Then they lost their entire Thai practice with the breakup with Weerawong, Chinnavat and Peangpanor earlier this year. Now they lost their entire domestic Singapore practice with the breakup with Venture Law. What do they have left in Singapore?

    Nothing but a few, highly pay partners with outrageously generous benefits who recently arrived from London, have no familiarity with Asia and have no book of business. For instance, look at Doug Peel - the managing partner of the Singapore office - he is head of W&C's India Practice but has never closed an Indian deal in his life - and he has no clients of his own. The W&C Singapore office is a joke - they have nothing left - and it all happened in 8 months. Not the way to run a law firm. That is for sure!

    I am not sure what business plan for the Singapore office has been approved by the head office in New York but the New York office sure is letting the Singapore office deteriorate rapidly. I bet it will take them years to repair the damage - if they ever do!

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  • Again and again.

    W&C shifts back and forth every few years between their desire to match the profitability of the top Wall St. firms and to be a full-service international firm, practicing local law where permitted. They appear hopelessly confused.

    To an outsider, they do much better at the latter than the former. None of their Asian partners would be leading lights on Wall St., or even close. Their associate base is even weaker than their partners. Now for the second time they have shed their Singapore "partner" and jettisoned Bangkok and jakarta to boot.

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  • Again and again and again

    Every few years W&C Spore go through massive partner changes and movements. The casualties of such changes are typically the associates. Careers are lost or in some cases destroyed and do the partners give a hoot? No! Well, its much easier to pin the blame on the associates than to admit a total lack of leadership and direction.

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  • To the ill-informed...

    White & Case applied for the QFTP months ago as did a deluge of other firms. Only a select few firms achieved this licence. This is old news. It is only natural for a firm who has been awarded the licence to split from their existing partnership, it is for this intention the licence was applied for !

    This is hardly a scandal. Wise up guys!

    P.S. for the commenter’s who are dubious of W&C’s future in the region, it will certainly be a fall from grace if the firm does not get its licence renewed when reviewed. Love them or hate them, respect them or not, they are now a part of a select elite in the region and have all to play for.

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  • No fan of WC but....

    I am no fan of W&C but some of the comments below smack of sour grapes, chips on shoulders or just plain disgruntlement (from ex-employees or associates?)

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  • Axe to grind?

    Wow sounds like there are so many pissed ex-w&c associates airing their grievances here. Guess there isn't anything better for them to do (like billable work).

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  • Requiem

    White & Case is a good law firm globally, but the current exodus of former partners to other good firms like KL Gates, Ashurst, Paul Hastings, DLA, Jones Day, O'Melveny, is indicative of a serious problem in W&C Singapore. The Singapore market is too small for the offshore firms, with or without QFLP status. They really need Indonesia-, China- or India-linked business to have any economic base that would justify operating in the city-state.

    After the Venture Law breakup, they don't have any links to those markets now, because the India team left for Paul Hastings, the Indonesian teams left for O'Melveny, Jones Day and elsewhere, and Venture had China-related work.
    Having the ex-London folks in Singapore would work if the firm had a good institutional bank client like the British firms do. However, W&C does not, so instead they are simply deadwood.

    The firm isn't going anywhere, it will be around after others have left. However, without a stronger local presence, it will be a faded reflection of what it once was. Expect more to leave this office.

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  • Toothless

    there are certainly some very sharp people and valued business opportunities being harvested at WC today. However, no doubt the sun is setting on WC. Here's a list of few core issues:

    1) Top heavy team with being non Asian experienced. Most of the bills paid are for UK orignating partners who charge in pounds and deliver value in rupiah. Neither they are committed to be in Singapore for long. NY and Doug must see through this and value those who are fully committed to be in Asia and have registered contacts/deals/value to the firm.

    2) Billable rewards: for once start rewarding those poor souls who are seriously billable and not give bonus to those with fantastic rim-job service. The team that left OMM, many of them shared this grip. Doug seriously needs to look into extraditing political fiefdoms and start promoting those simply on billable hours and actual business brought in.

    3) Deadwood: Doug cut the bloody deadwood. Why are you bringing in youngins from NY who bring on the table nothing but the superiority attitude? No experience dealing with local customs and sensitivities, nor are the billable here or back NY/London.

    In conclusion, WC does have some serious superstars, albeit about 10 or so. If Doug/NY doesnt change this soon, they will join the ranks of all other me-too law firms and the super 10 will soon leave.

    To those law firms needing superstar talent--you know the number for WC--sharpen up your offer letters--it wont be that long.

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  • totally lost

    i think its a good idea to go it alone in singapore. doug has some good ideas but he needs to seriously look at internal operations. lots of people are non billable and continue to do so. he ought to cut non billable people and support those with revenue generation. doug, cut the fat and start rewarding the muscle behind w&c revenue.

    for comment on w&c india business-all deals are passed to local chums that have messed up every deal. again w&c good people are not being rewarded with fresh kill (deal).

    it makes me wonder why bertie and rest left.

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