us firm Weil Gotshal & Manges is entering into a strategic alliance with Arthur Andersen’s Singapore firm Rajah & Tann.
Arthur Andersen has no legal capability in the US but a spokesman denies that the move is a way to get a foothold there.
He says: “From a legal perspective it’s superb that we have a practice in Singapore that is now able to provide that range of services.
“Anything that strengthens the hand of a member of the Andersen legal network has got to be good news for the network and therefore good news for the other members of the network. It benefits everyone – in this case indirectly.”
Weil Gotshal and Rajah & Tann plan to share expertise and to second lawyers to each other’s offices. But Weil Gotshal claims that it will not be practising Singapore law and has not applied for a joint venture licence.
Weil Gotshal corporate partner in the US Bob Messineo says: “Our relationship is really with Rajah & Tann, there’s no direct relationship with Andersen Legal.
“There are Singapore law aspects to any international business transaction that we might be doing for the companies working through Singapore. That expertise would be provided by Rajah & Tann.
“That is the whole purpose of the alliance. Similarly, if it has clients doing business in the US then we would be in a position to provide US law expertise.”
There are no plans at present for the US firm to follow in the footsteps of other major Singapore players such as Clifford Chance, Baker & McKenzie and Herbert Smith, which have already opened offices there.
Rajah & Tann is highly regarded for the quality of its banking and finance work and acted in the Barings Bank fiasco. It is linked to the Andersen Legal global network of independent firms which currently has no US presence.
The move follows a relaxation in Singapore’s legal market, which gives foreign firms the opportunity to apply for five licences to enter into partnerships with local firms.