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Ince & Co hits choppy water in Singapore as Reed Smith appoints leadership duo

As part of its quest to seek a local tie-up Reed Smith has secured the double hire of Ince & Co‘s Singapore managing partner and the head of its local alliance firm, putting Ince’s own Singapore law alliance at risk.

Ince’s Singapore office has become a hub for its core its shipping law and insurance practices, but the firm’s ability to conduct local law has been affected by the departure of Incisive Law managing director Mohan Subbaraman to Reed Smith.

Subbaraman was key to forming the Ince Law Alliance in March 2011 and his exit is expected to result in further departures from 10-lawyer Incisive Law to Reed Smith.

The Singapore venture has been viewed as a success for Ince and helped the firm to build out its shipping client base.

Ince & Co’s Singapore managing partner, Richard Lovell, also joins Reed Smith after 18 years at the firm. He has practised in Singapore since 1988 and specialises in insurance and marine disaster work in the surrounding region.

His arrival at Reed Smith, alongside Subbaraman, takes the number of lawyers at Reed Smith’s Singapore office to 21.

Asian expansion has become a key priority for the US firm, with Shanghai launching in 2011, Singapore opening in 2012 and Kazakhstan launching in 2014. But with Reed Smith unable to practise local law in Singapore, Subbaraman and Lovell have been tasked with creating a local alliance to change that.

Reed Smith said in a statement: ‘As part of Reed Smith’s strategy to seek a Formal Law Alliance in Singapore in the near future, the firm hopes to be joined by senior practitioner Mohan Subbaraman from Incisive, part of Ince & Co’s Formal Law Alliance in Singapore, and market-leading insurance and marine casualty partner Richard Lovell. No date has been confirmed for either Richard or Mohan’s arrivals.’

Ince confirmed the duo had retired with no definitive end-dates and that until then, the alliance with Incisive would continue. Further departures and the end of the alliance would affect the firm’s overall maritime, energy and offshore, trade and insurance practices. It would also leave a hole in the firm’s ability to advise the increasing number of global shipping and insurance clients looking to set up operations in Singapore.

However the firm today (30 October) announced that it had reshuffled its pack in the region to ‘demonstrate [its] ongoing commitment to clients in its core sectors with interests in Singapore and across Asia Pacific’.

Ince has appointed shipping, energy and international trade partner John Simpson to succeed Lovell as managing partner in Singapore. Simpson has been based in Singapore since 2007 and was made partner in 2010. Meanwhile, regional head of admiralty in Hong Kong, Harry Hirst, has been relocated and will join Simpson at the office, while finance lawyer Devandran Karunakaran, who recently advised the lenders on the BW Pavilion LNG financing, has been promoted to partner.,