Firms network their regional DNA

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Drew & Napier has formed a regional legal alliance with fellow blue-chip firms Shearn Delamore & Co from Malaysia, and Indonesia’s Makarim & Taira S, to form Drew Network Asia (DNA).

The DNA network enhances member firms, offering a full suite of services within the ASEAN region, so that clients can be seamlessly serviced in multiple jurisdictions while the firms remain independent.

The total number of partners and staff at the newly established DNA comprise 433 fee earners (including 133 partners) and 535 non-fee-earning staff, for a total headcount of 968.

The leadership of DNA will be driven by a regional governing board (RGB). Cavinder Bull, senior counsel and CEO, Drew & Napier, Dhinesh Bhaskaran, managing partner of Shearn Delamore & Co, and Lia Alizia, managing partner at Makarim & Taira S, will sit on the RGB with other senior members of the respective firms.

Andrew Ong, director, client development and regional operations at Drew & Napier, explained DNA’s operations and the network’s decision making to Asia Business Law Journal.

“The RGB will set the overall direction and strategy of DNA,” said Ong. “At a working level, protocols will be established and key partners identified in each DNA firm for specific areas of work. These partners will team up with the relevant partners in their area of work in each DNA firm, and collaborate closely on any multi-jurisdictional or cross-border file.

“The partners of DNA will collaborate to actively pitch for cross-border work, host regional seminars, and embark on other joint marketing activities.”

DNA firms and lawyers will also benefit from collaboration and joint activities such as secondments, training, overall development in technical know-how, business development and other soft skills.

Bull, from Drew & Napier, said DNA expects that more clients may need regional services in areas such as mergers and acquisitions, banking and finance, general corporate matters, regulatory and compliance, cross-border litigation, cross-border restructuring and international arbitration.

“DNA firms have been actively working together for regional clients even shortly prior to the launch of DNA,” he said. “We will continue to secure regional clients for the alliance, and inform our own respective clients on how DNA can be of service to them.”

Drew & Napier chose to partner with Malaysia’s Shearn Delamore and Indonesia’s Makarim & Taira S as the firms were “not new to us”, said Bull. “We have long admired them for their stellar reputation, consistently high quality of work, and impressive client feedback in international legal publications. They are leading firms in their respective jurisdictions and they fit perfectly into our vision of creating a blue-chip legal network within the ASEAN region. We were delighted to invite them to join us.”

As to expanding the network into other countries, Bull revealed that the alliance is in negotiations with leading firms in various other countries in Southeast Asia. “The timing is a little difficult to predict in light of the present COVID-19 situation that is impacting every country in the world,” he said. “We will take the time required to find the right blue-chip partners who share the same vision and dynamism of the DNA law firms.”

He added: “DNA intends to distinguish itself by inviting firms that are already established in the top tier in their jurisdiction to join a blue-chip ‘firm of firms’. This way our clients will benefit from top-quality legal advice in each jurisdiction.”

Drew & Napier is one of the “Big Four” most established full-service law firms in Singapore, with more than 250 fee earners. It has a strong reputation for dispute resolution and arbitration, and also focuses on competition and antitrust, corporate insolvency and restructuring, intellectual property (patents and trademarks), tax and telecoms, media and technology, and has market leading practices in M&A, banking and finance, and capital markets.

Shearn Delamore & Co is one of the oldest and largest premium full-service law firms in Malaysia, with more than 110 fee earners providing comprehensive services to domestic and international clients across dispute resolution, corporate, M&A, intellectual property, employment, tax, competition and antitrust, banking and finance, technology, media and telecoms, infrastructure and projects, construction, regulatory compliance and enforcement, real estate and shipping.

Makarim & Taira S is one Indonesia’s most reputable independent full-service law firms, with more than 60 fee earners and a proven track record of successfully navigating Indonesia’s complex and fast-changing environment. It focuses on both the traditional practice areas of corporate services, banking, finance, foreign investment, litigation, infrastructure and employment, as well as emerging growth areas such as antitrust/competition, power and energy, intellectual property, technology, media and telecoms, and fintech.