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Singapore continues to develop as a regional hub for international law firms conducting business in Southeast Asia and beyond. A further four international firms were granted Qualified Foreign Law Practice (QFLP) licences over the last 12 months: Jones Day, Linklaters Singapore Pte. Ltd, Sidley Austin LLP, and Gibson Dunn. The licence, now held by ten firms, allows foreign law firms to practise in Singaporean commercial law.
2013 also saw new formal alliances between international firms and their local counterparts: Clifford Chance’s tie up with Cavenagh Law LLP focuses primarily on dispute resolution; Stephenson Harwood’s alliance with Virtus Law LLP increases both firms’ shipping capabilities; and Clyde & Co Clasis Singapore’s alliance with Clasis LLC gives the joint venture combined international and local law expertise and advocacy. Other established alliances include Baker & McKenzie.Wong & Leow, Hogan Lovells Lee & Lee, and Pinsent Masons MPillay.
The market continues to see an increase in international law firms establishing new offices in the country, with foreign entrants now numbering over 100. New additions include Morrison & Foerster, Reed Smith, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, and Addleshaw Goddard LLP.
Singapore’s reputation as a seat for international arbitration is growing and the market remains in expansion mode. The Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) is increasingly becoming the venue of choice for Chinese companies and discussions are also underway to consider the feasibility of establishing a Singaporean International Commercial Court.
The local market continues to be dominated by four pre-eminent firms: Rajah & Tann LLP, Allen & Gledhill LLP, WongPartnership LLP, and Drew & Napier LLC. Real estate work is a mainstay, and the market remains so vibrant that there are fears of a property bubble. The government has introduced cooling measures and price stabilising has also been suggested. Other strong and competitive local firms include Shook Lin & Bok LLP, Stamford Law and Rodyk & Davidson LLP.