Asia Business Law Journal reveals Taiwan’s top 100 lawyers in 2019. Putro Harnowo reports
In the face of a prolonged trade war and a geo-political dispute between jurisdictions in the region, the legal services market in Taiwan is seeing more competition than ever. Clients are now paying more attention to their expenditures on external legal services, and expect more from their service providers.
To understand the clients’ ideas about what it takes to become an outstanding lawyer in Taiwan, we sought answers from a large number of professionals, mainly experienced in-house counsel and corporate legal managers. From these recommendations it is possible to derive a portrait of the outstanding Taiwanese lawyers that make up this elite group. They need to be able to comprehend their clients’ needs and always give the best practical advice.
Specialized legal expertise and bulletproof advice are not enough to be an outstanding lawyer, however. Experienced strategic perspectives with deep insight into industry are also needed. This advice needs to seamlessly integrate into legal documents that are produced for deals, negotiations, disputes or settlements. A lawyer with strong interpersonal and negotiating skills can provide the added value that most clients relish.
“To be one of the top lawyers in Taiwan, you have to understand the law and new regulation. Good lawyers need to not only having a deep knowledge about the law and transactions, but also the business intentions behind these,” says Chang Jin-sung, the chief legal officer of KGI Bank in Taipei.
Comments submitted to Asia Business Law Journal by clients suggest that they not only look for lawyers with an extensive knowledge of the law, but also lawyers who have exceptional communication skills, provide practical and strategic advice, and offer solutions tailored to a challenging business environment.
In addition, most international clients seek out Taiwanese lawyers with an international mindset and experience.
In the past 30 years, Taiwan’s role as an international commercial force and as a hub for technological innovation remains indisputable. Given its strategic location in the pacific to connect huge markets in East and Southeast Asia, the island has been actively maintaining close relationships with overseas investors and partners.
Taiwan has been notable for information and communications technology (ICT), especially in semiconductor production, and is making headway towards establishing itself as a centre for blockchain-based businesses and initial coin offerings (ICOs). Its changing legal landscape makes it imperative for both domestic and international businesses to seek legal assistance when navigating the regulatory environment.
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 Taiwan (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 Taiwan and elsewhere, as well as Taiwan-focused partners at international law firms based outside Taiwan.
Nearly all of the A-list lawyers are located in the country’s capital, Taipei. 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 Taiwan’s top law firms are on the A-list. These include: Alex Hsin, managing partner of Guo Ju Law Firm; Yeh Dah-In, founding partner of Formosan Brothers; Gary Hung, partner in charge of Chien Yeh Law Offices; Lee Chung-Teh, co-founder and chief executive partner of Lee Tsai & Partners; George CH Lin, founder of Lin & Partners; and Henry CH Guei, president of Tai E International Patent & Law Office.
A-list lawyer John Lin, a partner at Jones Day, received praise from Micron Technology’s senior director, Asia Legal, Stephen Drake in Singapore, who says: “John is an essential partner to my company. He understands my business requirements and objectives, as well as the local politics, culture and practical implementation impacting his legal advice.
“John has designed and implemented groundbreaking transaction structures that have resulted in Micron being recognized numerous times by the MOEA [Ministry of Economic Affairs] and the Taiwan M&A and Private Equity Council for M&A deals of the year and best foreign enterprise of the year. John is the most sophisticated transaction lawyer I have met during my 10 years working on Taiwan matters (including five years resident in Taiwan) and among the best I’ve worked with anywhere in the world during my 23 years of practice.”
Satisfied clients are what made for a successful lawyer or foreign legal consultant/counsel/adviser be named one of Taiwan’s top 100.
Mikio Tanaka, a partner of City-Yuwa Partners in Japan, praises Cheng Chun-yih, managing partner at Formosa Transnational, as “a very experienced corporate lawyer, well educated in many aspects, and with the charisma to lead the client”.
Tanaka also sends a positive note to Georgia Chang, senior partner at Formosa Transnational, calling her an “experienced litigator, talented in finding a solution acceptable for all parties”.
KGI’s Chang had this to say about James Chen, a partner at Lee and Li Attorneys-at-Law: “He is an outstanding lawyer across different fields, including M&A transactions. He assisted us a lot in M&A cases under the China Development Financial Holding company.”
Lee and Li had 15 of its partners making it to the A-list, the most lawyers of any firm in the list. The firm has worked on some of the largest deals in Taiwan, including the notable Energy Absolute’s acquisition of Amita Technology’s Gigafactory, which manufactures lithium ion batteries.
Tsar & Tsai Law Firm, which has seven lawyers on the list, also had notable deals this year including Taiwanese electronic component manufacturer Yageo Corporation’s acquisition of US rival KEMET Corporation for US$1.8 billion.
LCS & Partners is another firm with seven partners on our list. One LCS deal, Jintex Corporation’s acquisition by CDIB Capital, won the Taiwan Mergers & Acquisitions and Private Equity Council’s award for the Most Innovative M&A Deal in 2019.
A-list women lawyers
Never to be outshone by their male peers, a portion of the A-list was filled by Taiwan’s leading women lawyers including: Peggy Wu, executive director of Top Team International Patent & Trademark Office, who is commendable for her IP works; Jaclyn Tsai, co-founder of Lee Tsai & Partners, who is well-known in the fintech sector and specializes in technology law, M&A and investment matters; Jennifer Lin, managing partner of Tsar & Tsai Law Firm, for her notable work in IP, patent, pharmaceutical and dispute resolution; Sophia Lelong, managing partner of Stellex Law Firm, who specializes in labour, real estate, and cross-border investment; Candy KY Chen, partner of Tsai Lee & Chen, who is a registered Taiwan patent attorney and a registered US patent agent; and Joyce Fan, a partner of Lee and Li, who has been involved in various commercial transactions, with a special focus on infrastructure projects.
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 Taiwan and around the world, as well as Taiwan-focused partners at international law firms, and asked them to nominate private-practice lawyers including foreign legal consultants, advisers and counsel for the list of Taiwan’s top 100 lawyers.
Nominations were received from professionals in Taiwan and global companies, financial institutions and law firms including: Micron Technology, Mycenax Biotech Inc, Quinn Emanuel, KGI Bank, Daiichi LPC, Uryu & Itoga, Nagashima Ohno & Tsunematsu, City-Yuwa Partners and many more.
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 Taiwan’s legal market.
All Taiwan 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.