Simmons & Simmons managing partner Jeremy Hoyland has put a Singapore launch at the top of the firm’s agenda for international expansion.
Hoyland, who has been Simmons’ managing partner since April 2011 (10 December 2010), told The Lawyer that his firm had been mulling an office launch in Singapore but that it had not yet applied for a licence to practice in the country.
“We’ve been looking at Singapore,” said Hoyland. “It’s clearly an attractive part of the world and there’s a lot of opportunity there. But there are also a lot of well-established competitors there and we’re aware that we’re coming to that market late, so we must make sure we have a compelling offering.”
Hoyland also said that Singapore was “probably top of the agenda” in terms of international expansion but added that there was not a long list alternatives.
“We don’t have 10 places we’re looking at,” added Hoyland. “We’re much more focused on strategy and [internal] structures and I’m a little bit cautious about just planting flags.”
Hoyland added that while there are other countries in South East Asia – in particular Korea – that are attractive and sophisticated, it would not be possible to launch in any of them without first having a Singapore base.
He added that the firm is looking at all options at the moment, including tying up with a local practice or launching a greenfield site.
Singapore has experienced a surge in interest from UK law firms and even barristers’ chambers this year. In June The Lawyer reported that Allen & Overy had cut partners in Hong Kong and was shifting its focus more to Singapore (11 June 2012).
Also in June, The Lawyer reported that One Essex Court and 39 Essex Street had become the latest sets to look at opening bases abroad by setting their sights on Singapore (26 June 2012).
That news came shortly after it was reported that Singapore’s government was inviting more foreign firms to apply for Qualifying Foreign Law Practice licences, with Ashurst, DLA Piper and Eversheds all expressing interest (29 May 2012).
In April Squire Sanders announced that it had secured a licence from Singapore’s Attorney General’s Chambers ahead of its office launch (11 April 2012), just weeks after Addleshaw Goddard announced that it had finalised its plans to open an office in the Lion City (4 April 2012).
Simmons already has a number of offices in Asia – in Beijing, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Tokyo.