Green shoots

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Time to make hay?

We are nearing the half-year mark of 2020, a portentous year. Much time, money and effort has been spent in the first six months in steadying the ship. Governments and legislators across the world have been in overdrive, issuing new regulations and laws to help mitigate the effects of covid-19.

The flurry of legislation and regulation has put legal teams at the centre of their companies’ fight against the pandemic. The roles of general counsel and in-house legal teams have never been more important for almost all businesses across every jurisdiction, and the challenges have never been greater. It is now the legal counsel’s time to rise and prove their worth.

Our Cover story features a carefully assembled panel of in-house counsel from China, India, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines, discussing and debating the road ahead for Asian businesses as companies prepare for a “new normal”, which is likely to be “an accordion of lockdown and non-lockdown measures”. Our panellists participated in a closed-door virtual forum and shared their insights and philosophies on issues domestic and across borders that will affect the legal sector and business through and past when clearer skies prevail. The story features edited highlights of the online conversation.

As Dessi Berhane Silassie, the president of Singapore Corporate Counsel Association and APAC general counsel for IHS Markit, reminds us: “Now is the right time for us to look back, see what worked, what didn’t work. Tighten up our tool kits, our policies around that period, to ensure that it is ready to be tested again and again and again for future disruption, whether it’s covid-19-related or otherwise.”

In Ready for business, we head to Bangladesh. The south Asian country’s economy has been firing on all cylinders, thanks to its formidable textile manufacturing industry, large domestic consumer market and healthy remittances. We interviewed many of the top lawyers of Bangladesh, scoping out the opportunities and challenges for global businesses keen on making a foray into the buzzing market. We also offer an overview of the country’s legal market, a handy guide for both companies and law firms.

As the US gears up for a presidential election later this year, we invite seasoned American lawyer Dennis Unkovic to weigh in on the impact it will have on the world, and more specifically Asia. High stakes explore the cards being dealt in political and legal terms. Evaluating the trends and scenarios that could likely play out in the elections, Unkovic argues that from now until November, with the global economy severely weakened due to the covid-19 pandemic, Asia should pay close attention, because the stakes this time around are very, very high.

In Focus evaluates the impact and risks of trace-and-track apps that governments across the world are adopting in their bid to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The implementation of the apps has raised questions about the “right balance” between pandemic response and privacy considerations.

In the first of a new series identifying the movers and shakers that are making waves in legal markets around the region, Asia Business Law Journal’s Rising Stars looks at the outstanding work of Thai law firms that are on the rise. All of our Rising Star firms, chosen after a meticulous editorial process that involved extensive consultations with in-house counsel and international law firms, have either immediately impressed or recently reinvigorated themselves to become providers of top-class advice and representation.

In this issue, we also bring to you our first ever Japan A-list, with profiles of the country’s top 100 lawyers.

Best wishes,

Mithun Varkey
Editor, Asia Business Law Journal
Managing Editor, Vantage Asia