Seven Wong partners form limited liability breakaway

Suet Fern Lee heads new corporate boutique; litigationlooms acrimonious split

THE former Wong Partnership partner whose departure caused the collapse of Clifford Chance‘s joint venture has set up a new firm which is expected to link up with Shearman & Sterling.

Suet Fern Lee, a highly-rated senior corporate partner, resigned from the Wong Partnership in October (The Lawyer, 9 October). The joint venture between Clifford Chance and the Wong Partnership subsequently fell apart.

Lee has now set up Stamford as a limited-liability corporation, the first such company since changes to Singapore’s practising laws were introduced earlier this year.

The seven-partner firm consists entirely of former Wong Partnership partners and fee-earners. Lee will not discuss any possible joint ventures, but Stamford’s offices are located in Shearman & Sterling’s Singapore operation.

Stamford has 12 lawyers and intends to recruit another 10 soon.

Although her reasons for leaving the Wong Partnership are unclear, Lee confirms there is still ongoing litigation between herself, the other Stamford partners and their old firm.

She says: “It was very acrimonious and it still is. I didn’t expect to leave, I expected to be in a joint venture with Clifford Chance. But certain events transpired that made it impossible for me to stay. My resignation was the culmination of many things at the Wong Partnership.”

All of Lee’s clients will go with her to the new venture, including the PSA Corporation. The firm will concentrate on top-tier corporate finance, securities and M&A.

Lee says: “We’re looking potentially at a very top-tier corporate practice, a very international practice, and opportunities for training and exposure that you are not going to see, for example, in the UK firms.”

In 1994 Lee’s firm WYTL joined forces with litigator Wong Meng Meng to form the Wong Partnership. She then established the firm’s corporate practice.