Singapore > Legal market overview
Singapore continues to grow as a regional hub for international law firms to conduct business in Southeast Asia and beyond. There are currently six international firms that hold Qualified Foreign Law Practice (QFLP) licences: Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance, Herbert Smith Freehills, Latham & Watkins LLP, Norton Rose (Asia) LLP and White & Case LLP. The licence allows foreign law firms to practise in commercial areas of Singaporean law, and a second round of issuances will take place in 2013.
2012 saw an increase in the number of law firm mergers and alliances in Singapore, indicating the need for firms to remain competitive in a strong market. These included the Ashurst LLP/Blake Dawson merger, and the integrated alliance between Linklaters Singapore Pte. Ltd and Allens Arthur Robinson (now Allens) across the region. The international merger between Herbert Smith LLP and Freehills in October 2012 is expected to affect the energy and resources legal market in Singapore. Other established alliances include Baker & McKenzie.Wong & Leow, Hogan Lovells Lee & Lee and Pinsent Masons MPillay. The market has also seen a sharp rise in the number of new firms opening offices in the country, with RPC, Squire Sanders (Singapore) LLP, Olswang, and Reed Smith the most recent additions.
Also of note is the arrival of niche UK law firm Magrath LLP, focussing on immigration for corporates and high-net worth individuals.
Singapore’s reputation as a seat of international arbitration has expanded significantly, and the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) equalled its number of cases from 2011 in the first six months of 2012. This is expected to continue while government support remains strong.
The local market meanwhile is dominated by four pre-eminent firms: Rajah & Tann LLP, Allen & Gledhill LLP, WongPartnership LLP, and Drew & Napier LLC. RHTLaw Taylor Wessing LLP gained traction in dispute resolution, IP and TMT, as did Rajah & Tann LLP in banking and capital markets. Other strong firms competing in the market include Shook Lin & Bok LLP, Stamford Law Corporation and Rodyk & Davidson LLP.