Asia Business Law Journal reveals Singapore’s best private practice lawyers. Wilda Fong reports

To be one of Singapore’s top lawyers, you need to be an “outstanding lawyer with cost effective solutions”, according to Xae Hoyy Loh, group legal counsel of Gold Coin Group, Singapore, when describing Pei Lin Low, a partner at Allen & Gledhill. “[Pei Lin] is always generous in providing her insight and expertise in all matters (even unbillable ones),” she says. “Her dedication to her work helps me sleep at night knowing that my matters are in good hands.”

David Doran, founding partner of DFDL Legal & Tax in Thailand, says you need to be “courteous, respectful, astute, highly ethical – and a really good lawyer”, after nominating Cavinder Bull, senior counsel of Drew & Napier. “[She] has excellent client management skills, says Janette Loh, general counsel at Canon Singapore, describing Lorraine Tay, the joint managing partner at Bird & Bird ATMD.

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Comments such as these, submitted to Asia Business Law Journal by the clients of Singaporean lawyers, suggest that they not only look for lawyers with an extensive knowledge of the law, but also those who can provide cost-effective solutions, are highly ethical and super client-friendly.

In addition, most international clients seek out Singapore lawyers who have a range of expertise and an international mindset.

Spotlighting the individual

As one of Asia’s biggest business and financial hubs, Singapore’s evolving legal landscape makes it imperative for both domestic and international businesses to seek legal assistance when navigating the regulatory environment. The Singaporean legal market continues to be one where clients seek out good lawyers, rather than good law firms.

Perhaps this is because of the respect and trust individual lawyers have built and nurtured in lawyer-client relationships, and more importantly, their reputation by name, which far outweighs their firm’s brand name or size, factors that are predominant in more developed jurisdictions.

It is against this backdrop that Asia Business Law Journal presents its A-list of the top 100 lawyers (including foreign legal consultants/advisers/counsel) practising in Singapore (see the list of all 100 lawyers and the key practice areas for which they are endorsed). The list is based on extensive research conducted and nominations received from in-house counsel based in Singapore and elsewhere, and Singapore-focused partners at international law firms based outside Singapore.

Nearly all of the A-list lawyers are located in the city-state’s central business district. This may reflect the premium on lawyers who are well placed to have their ear to the ground with regard to developments among the financial and sector-specific regulators, and within the corridors of power in government.

As would be expected, the heads of Singapore’s top law firms are on the A-list. These include: Azmul Haque, managing director of Collyer Law; Audrey Yap, managing partner of Yusarn Audrey; Dr Andreas Respondek, managing director of Respondek & Fan; Susan Kong, director of QED Law Corporation; Edmund Kronenburg, managing partner of Braddell Brothers; and Joyce Tan, managing director of Joyce A Tan & Partners.

Singing high praises

A-list lawyer Ronald Wong, director of Covenant Chambers, received praise from Edmund Koh, general counsel/chief legal knowledge engineer of INTELLLEX, a provider of knowledge banks for law firms, who says: “Ronald is a rare breed of lawyer who can handle both disputes and transactional work. He is very capable of guiding a startup properly through all legal issues it may face. Further, he is well-versed in technology and can advise on how technology will intersect with law.”

John Fellas, a partner at Hughes Hubbard & Reed in the US, has this to say about Francis Xavier, senior counsel at Rajah & Tann in Singapore: “I have worked directly with Francis and he is a brilliant strategist in international litigation.”

Suresh Divyanathan, a partner at Oon & Bazul, received this positive note from Steven Howard, senior legal counsel of Sony Mobile Communications in Japan: “Suresh was instrumental in advising us on a dispute with a former distributor in Singapore. Through his insightful guidance we were able to resolve a potentially time consuming dispute in our favour quickly, and at a low cost. He is also a really nice guy.”

A-list women lawyers

Stephanie Keen, managing partner at Hogan Lovells Lee & Lee, is described by Maree Myerscough, general counsel of Conergy Singapore, as a lawyer who “has excellent technical abilities”. She adds: “As a woman lawyer in a leadership role, Stephanie is a great inspiration and positive role model to female lawyers navigating a career in corporate law. Importantly, Stephanie leads her associates in a very supportive way, helping to guide them in their development as corporate lawyers.”

Not to be outshone by their male peers, a portion of the A-list was filled by Singapore’s leading women lawyers including: Sapna Jhangiani, partner at Clyde & Co, whose key focus is international arbitration; Marilyn See, partner at Shook Lin & Bok, a debt capital markets and banking lawyer; Rachel Eng, deputy chairman of WongPartnership, who has been named in the Peak Power List, an award that honours influential women who have shattered the proverbial glass ceiling; Regina Quek, director at One Legal, who has more than 20 years’ experience in IP matters; and Shirin Tang, partner at Morrison & Foerster, who specializes in private equity and M&A transactions.

Up and coming

Included in the A-list lawyers is also Singapore’s young legal talent. Christopher Kang, senior associate at CMS Holborn Asia, is described by Janahan Thiru, legal counsel at HOOQ Digital, Singapore, who worked with Kang in a small tech company’s funding round, as “highly responsive and very quick to respond to client’s concerns and doubts. You can always rest assured that your matter (no matter how small) is being attended to.”

Satisfied clients such as these are what make a lawyer or foreign legal consultant/counsel/adviser one of Singapore’s top 100.

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Compiling the A-List

The A-List is based on extensive research conducted by Asia Business Law Journal. For this we turned to thousands of in-house counsel in Singapore and around the world, as well as Singaporean-focused partners at international law firms outside of Singapore, and asked them to nominate private-practice lawyers including foreign legal consultants, advisers and counsel for the list of Singapore’s top 100 lawyers.

Nominations were received from professionals at a wide range of Singaporean and international companies, law firms and other organizations, including: Avaya Singapore, NTT Singapore, King & Spalding, Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas, DFDL Legal & Tax, Suntory Beverage & Food Asia, De Berti Jacchia law firm, Canon Singapore, Gold Coin Group, Hughes Hubbard & Reed, WhiteCoat Medical Singapore Telecommunications, ABNR, Howse Williams Bowers, INTELLLEX, HOOQ Digital, Lawyers on Demand and Sembcorp Industries.

The final list reflects the nominations received combined with Asia Business Law Journal editorial team’s more than 30 years of collective experience in documenting and analysing Singapore’s legal market. All Singaporean private-practice lawyers were automatically eligible for inclusion in the nominations process and, as always, there were no fees or any other requirements for entry.

The names and photographs of all 100 A-list lawyers are published here. In addition, each A-list lawyer was given the opportunity to include their biography and contact details, for which a publishing fee was charged.

It is important to note that while the compilation of the A-list was based solely on independent editorial research, the biographies and contact details that appear alongside many of the listings have been written by the participating lawyers and the content has not been independently verified by Asia Business Law Journal.

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