Baker & McKenzie is set to become the first major international firm to establish a foothold in Malaysia.
The firm has negotiated a 'correspondent' relationship with Wong & Partners, a firm being set up in Kuala Lumpur.
The Malaysian firm will be headed by KK Wong, a locally qualified lawyer previously with Baker & McKenzie's Singapore office, and will do the bulk of the
firm's Malaysian work. The firm will start operations with about eight lawyers.
Baker & McKenzie partner David Yates said that his firms' current arrangements for dealing with Malaysian work were 'not entirely satisfactory'.
Much of the work is done out of its Singapore office where seven Malaysian lawyers are employed.
Some of these lawyers will be joining Wong in Kuala Lumpur. But Yates stressed that the new firm will operate separately from Baker & McKenzie and there will be no profit sharing between the two.
The relationship is structured with an eye to Malaysia's strict rules on the establishment of foreign firms which have, in the past, been a disincentive to other firms setting up in the country.
Yates said: 'The regulatory environment is difficult and we need to be careful that we are not breaking the rules.'