E&Y hires former HSF partner as it mulls Singapore legal services launch

Former Herbert Smith Freehills’ Singapore partner John Dick has joined Ernst & Young Singapore as a partner as the “big four” accounting firm mulls legal services launch.

Dick has joined Ernst & Young Singapore as a partner, focusing on energy and resources, M&A and foreign investment in the South East Asia region. He has been based in the region since 1989, living in Singapore and Vietman.

Dick’s appointment is part of the accouting firm’s plan to expand its professional services to the legal services area in the Asia Pacific region. It is understood that he is entrusted by the accounting firm to set up a legal services arm in Singapore, in the format of a law firm that will then become part of the EY global network.

According to sources, EY Singapore is still in the process of applying for regulatory approval for its legal services initiatives. The set up process could take up to about three months.

EY already offers legal services in several jurisdictions through locally registered law firms, including Australia, India and Japan. In Japan, for example, the accounting group provides legal services through EY Law Co., which was established earlier this year.

The accounting firm is also considering launching a legal arm in the UK and is mulling to apply for an ABS licence (9 September 2013).

The other three of the “big four” accounting firms also offer legal services in a number of countries in Asia. Deloitte, for example, offers legal services in Australia, China, India, Taiwan and Thailand. PwC’s global legal services network also covers a wide range of jurisdictions across the region.

Dick was formerly the South East Asia managing partner of legacy Freehills. Following the Australian firm’s merger with Herbert Smith in October 2012 (28 June 2012), Dick and legacy Freehills’ 10-lawyer Singapore team moved into the Singapore office of legacy Herbert Smith (3 October 2012). He is among the majority of the legal Freehills team that have since left the combined office (21 November 2013).

EY could not be reached for comment.

For more on HSF in Singapore read our blog: Stalemate in Singapore