EY adds foreign law practice in Singapore for regional growth

EY’s affiliated law firm DA Partners has been granted a foreign law practice (FLP) licence in Singapore, as part of its regional growth plan.

DA Partners was established last year by two EY partners, John Dick and Evangelos Apostolou. Prior to join EY, Dick was the managing partner of Herbert Smith Freehills’ Singapore office (10 December 2013). Apostolou was EY’s general counsel for the Asia Pacific region, based in Singapore.

The FLP licence comes eight months after EY first tapped into Singapore’s legal services market by adding local firm PK Wong & Associates (PKW) to its global network.

Dick, who will be leading DA Partners, said the FLP will enable his firm to provide cross-border legal services to EY’s clients, many of which have regional headquarters in Singapore. 

“We view Singapore as a regional hub for providing cross-border legal services to clients operating in the ASEAN region,” said Dick. “DA Partners enables us to offer more specialised legal services and resources in Singapore.”

Until DA Partners’ approval as a FLP, EY can only provide Singaporean legal services through PKW. According to Dick, the focus of the next development is to form a formal law alliance (FLA) between DA Partners and PKW.

“The intention is to form a FLA with PK Wong & Associates in a bid to provide combined local and international legal services to EY’s clients,” said Dick.

DA Partners will be officially launched on 1 July and Dick expected the practice to grow by at least 10 lawyers in the first 12 months, independently from the growth of PKW.

Apart from Singapore, EY has an affiliated law firm in Vietnam named EY Law. Dick noted that EY’s object is “ultimately to have a law firm presence in every country in ASEAN where EY is in”. Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines are mentioned as the obvious next locations, where a local law firm is likely to be added to EY’s global network.

More broadly, EY has been growing its legal presence in Asia. In April 2015, it added Korean firm Apex Legal and in February 2014 it added Shanghai-based Chinese firm Chen & Co to its network (20 February 2014).