Indonesia is likely to be the next target as Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) looks to expand its newly launched Asia network of independent law firms.
Indonesia has been a key focus of BLP’s Singapore practice since its establishment in 2007 with Singapore-based corporate finance partner Ken Cheung being a main contact for Indonesia-related work (13 August 2012). It is estimated that over half of the transactions and cases the Singapore office handles have an Indonesia component.
The firm has worked with a number of Indonesian firms, both large and small, including established Jakarta firm Ali Budiardjo Nugroho Reksodiputro (ABNR).
It is understood that BLP is in discussion with several firms in Indonesia and other South East Asian jurisdictions about formalising their relationships by joining its newly established Asia network of selected local legal practices, which will continue to operate independently.
BLP launched its Asia network initiative at the same time as announcing an alliance with sole-partner Myanmar firm Legal Network Consultants, which became the first member of the network (13 March 2014).
“Having considered a number of options, the firm’s decided that the network model of working with independent local firms is the best way to services clients’ need in the region,” said Singapore-based projects partner Nomita Nair.
BLP’s Asia network operates on a non-exclusive basis and intends to have only one member firm in each country. Firms in the network will collaborate on client matters as well as conduct joint marketing and joint business development exercises. The network initiative is led from Singapore by South East Asia head Alistair Duffield.
According to Nair, local language skills, local knowledge and understanding of local business practices are important to service clients in the region, particularly in emerging markets like Myanmar.
“We’ve already worked with many local firms across Asia. The network initiative allows us to formalise our relationship with some of the firms,” she added. “We are currently talking with a number of firms across Asia about their joining the network, but we have no imminent announcements yet.”
The past year has seen a growing trend of UK firms expanding their practices in South East Asia through local associations and alliance network. Bird & Bird is understood to be developing cooperative agreements with a number of firms in the region, including Indonesian firms (26 February 2014).
Stephenson Harwood is another firm that are actively building up local ties, with Myanmar local firm U Tin Yu & Associates being its latest ally (8 May 2013). Taylor Wessing also launched a regional network in July 2013 and added 10-partner Indonesian firm Hanafiah Ponggawa & Partners to the network in October (8 October 2013).