Singapore grants firms equity option

The Singapore Law Society has given firms the formal go-ahead to accept equity in lieu of fees for the first time.

The move will be particularly relevant to those acting for dotcom start-ups. The practice has already been adopted in the UK by a range of firms including Simmons & Simmons and Pinsent Curtis.

It is understood that some Singapore firms have already taken an equity stake or stock options in lieu of fees from internet clients. But this is the first time the Singapore Law Society has approved the practice.

Not all firms will be taking up the opportunity. One Singapore-based lawyer at one of the largest domestic firms says: “Lawyers will be wary of taking equity until they are absolutely certain that conflicts of interest do not arise.”

The move coincides with the Singapore authorities’ attempts to open up the financial and professional services market by allowing foreign firms to form alliances with domestic practices (The Lawyer, 8 May).