Singapore’s Stamford Law merges with US outfit Morgan Lewis

Anyone who thought FLAs, JLVs or QFLPs were the only way for foreign firms to enter Singapore’s legal profession needs to think again.

As proved by America’s Morgan Lewis & Bockius, which has just announced that it will merge with Singapore’s Stamford Law Corporation on 1 April (16 March 2015), there is another way.

Although such a deal is apparently untested in the local market, there is method to the firms’ merger madness.

Unlike with a formal law alliance, which allows foreign firms to offer Singapore advice via a best-friends relationship with a local firm, or a joint law venture, which allows local and foreign firms to offer mixed advice via a separate but jointly owned entity, there will be no restrictions on what the firm can advise on in Singapore.

This is because Morgan Lewis Stamford, as it will be known locally, will continued to be a Singaporean firm staffed by Singaporean lawyers, only that firm will become part of the wider Morgan Lewis network with its directors being admitted to the US firm’s partnership.  

For any firm that missed out on a coveted qualifying foreign law practice licence from the Singaporean government the set-up could offer new hope. Plus it would allow them to offer local litigation advice.

Could this be what Herbert Smith Freehills had in mind when it chose not to renew its QFLP licence last year?

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