Commitment to Asia as senior partner relocates to Singapore on a permanent basis
As the importance of the Asia Pacific region grows it is starting to change the shape and structure of global law firms’ management.
A growing number of firms have been sending global practice heads to Asia in recent years in a bid to develop key practices and bring the region into line with their global strategies.
However, UK firm Holman Fenwick Willan (HFW) has outdone its international rivals in its commitment, becoming the first UK firm to relocate its senior partner, Richard Crump, to Singapore on a permanent basis.
Having been operating in the region since 1978, when it opened an office in Hong Kong, HFW’s Asia Pacific region makes up 20 per cent of the firm’s headcount.
In 2013 it had 108 lawyers, including 37 partners, across six locations in the region.
There are benefits to having a global senior partner on the ground, proximity to clients and commitment to the region being just two.
Growth across the Asia Pacific has not been without its challenges for HFW. It lost a six-lawyer team to Berwin Leighton Paisner in Singapore in 2010 and its Sydney head to Hong Kong’s Howse Williams Bowers in 2012.
Signs are, however, that the firm is redoubling its efforts in Singapore. Over the past three years the firm has relocated partners from Shanghai, Hong Kong and London to the Lion City. And now Crump.
It is a reassuring sign from within, and one that could spark a wider trend.