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RHTLaw Taylor Wessing Deputy Managing Partner and Chairman of the ASEAN Plus Group Azman Jaafar was quoted in The Business Times and The Straits Times articles titled “New programme to help legal sector Go Global” and “New scheme to help law firms go global”, respectively. Both articles were first published in The Business Times and The Straits Times on 2 February 2018.
This news was also published in the Singapore Law Watch article titled “New programme to help legal sector Go Global” on 2 February 2018, and in Lianhe Zaobao article titled “由律政部带头推动 一个计划三策略 助本地律师闯海外”, published on 2 February 2018.
Singapore has introduced a programme to help local law firms expand abroad by way of overseas mission trips, training and marketing.
Called Lawyers Go Global, it aims to help small and medium-sized law firms, who “may have valuable niche expertise but may lack the resources to do their own market research and explore overseas markets on their own”, said the Ministry of Law (MinLaw).
Firms that have ventured abroad can also benefit from the programme as it can deepen their understanding of the markets where they operate, MinLaw added.
The ministry launched the programme yesterday with Law Society of Singapore (LawSoc) and International Enterprise Singapore.
In the next three years, eight mission trips, each lasting four to five days, will take lawyers to Asean countries as well as China and India.
LawSoc will organise workshops on networking skills, legal regimes and business norms abroad. It will also start a marketing campaign by the end of this year to raise the profile of Singapore lawyers abroad.
Senior Minister of State for Law and Finance Indranee Rajah said: “There is demand in the region, so what we are doing is encouraging the lawyers to export services which they have built up over time with their expertise and knowledge.”
Legal services are projected to grow at 5.5 per cent a year in the Asia-Pacific region between 2014 and next year, said MinLaw.
Legal work in Asia is also expected to grow in areas like infrastructure, arising from China’s Belt and Road initiative.
The Working Group on Legal and Accounting Services, in the Committee on the Future Economy, has recommended that law firms get a bigger share of global demand.
This is also in line with the Professional Services Industry Transformation Map’s goal to internationalise local law firms.
Ms Indranee noted that Singapore firms have, in the past 15 years, been building up their expertise in areas like dispute resolution. “We’ve gotten to the size where we have the right capabilities and are ready to venture out,” she said.
LawSoc president Gregory Vijayendran noted that some firms have gone international, whether by being a member of a global network, setting up a presence or having a “best friend” relationship with a foreign firm. LawSoc had organised a trip to Myanmar last August.
But Lawyers Go Global is meant to be a “far more strategic and intentional” effort at helping law firms here “embrace this outlook of going global”, he added.
RHTLaw Taylor Wessing joined Taylor Wessing, a global network of law firms, in 2012. In 2014, it became part of the Asean Plus Group, a network of firms in the region.
Mr Azman Jaafar, deputy managing partner of RHTLaw Taylor Wessing and chairman of the Asean Plus Group, said: “Clients were starting to venture abroad. It was a matter of time before we asked ourselves if we were ready for the world”.
Being part of the larger Taylor Wessing network, for instance, exposed the firm to new technology and best practices, and allowed for sharing of some resources. A Vietnam office it formed in 2016 in a merger with a law firm there has seen a “dramatic” rise in revenue last year, and a 30 per cent jump in headcount, he added.
Timothy Ng LLC has yet to venture abroad, but founder Timothy Ng said it was thinking of doing so in the field of international arbitration.
“Meeting and working with international lawyers would not only be beneficial for us as individual lawyers, but will benefit Singapore in the provision of legal services, as a premier business and financial service centre,” he said.