Just weeks after confirming its expansion plans in Australia, Withers has today (4 February) announced it has established a formal law alliance (FLA) with Singapore law firm KhattarWong.
In April this year the firms will form ‘Withers KhattarWong’ with the aim of providing a range of Singapore, UK, and US legal services to clients and boosting Asian revenues to a third of the firm’s total. KhattarWong’s entire 26-strong partnership will become partners at Withers.
Withers’ current Singapore outpost houses nine lawyers, including six partners, that offer tax and estate planning, corporate, and disputes advice. The office works closely with Hong Kong, which has over 35 lawyers.
KhattarWong’s 70-lawyer firm, meanwhile, focuses on banking, finance and property; corporate and securities; disputes; IP and technology; tax and private client.
The agreement follows on from Withers opening an office at Raffles Place in Singapore in 2012, with an agenda to provide tax and trust advice. More recent expansion saw the firm launch a presence in Australia in December, creating Withers SBL through an alliance with tax practice Balazs Lazanas & Welch (BLW) and corporate boutique SBL Shmith.
On its latest move into Singapore, Withers managing director Margaret Robertson told Legal Business: ‘Withers is looking to be a worldwide firm and will have one third of its business in Asia in the next three to five years. The market here is growing so fast in our space. Growth is very definitely the target – we want to make sure we service the KhattarWong clients internationally to build a strong reputation in Singapore.’
Looking ahead, Robertson added: ‘Building from our San Francisco opening, we’re looking to grow in California, because it complements the Asian expansion and we see a lot of work flow between Hong Kong, Singapore and California.’
Deborah Barker SC, managing partner of KhattarWong, said: ‘We decided in the late 80s to go regional. But this gives us access to a greater network around the world. This framework is really good for us. ‘
‘Singapore is without question the financial and legal centre of South East Asia and has the highest concentration of millionaire households in the world,’ added Withers Singapore office head Jay Krause. ‘This alone is enough to illustrate its importance to us, which only stands to increase as other economies in the region reach critical mass and seek to engage more fully with the global economy.’