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05 September 2012

Firms scramble for place in Singapore's legal market

Global law firms DLA Piper and Jones Day are among 23 foreign firms reported to have bid for licenses in Singapore, as the city-state continues to open up its legal market.

Pittsburgh’s K&L Gates and London’s Watson Farley & Williams have also confirmed their application for the so-called Qualifying Foreign Law Practice licenses, which will allow foreign firms to practice Singapore corporate law and hire locally qualified lawyers, reports Bloomberg’s Businessweek web site.

Restrictions

The relaxation of legal market restrictions will be of particular interest to Jones Day – reportedly the top legal advisor on mergers by deal count – as $35.6 billion of mergers and acquisitions took place within Singapore in the last year, a 25 per cent increase on the previous year and a stark contrast to the US and Europe where merger activity slowed.

Key driver

'Asia is a key driver of global economic growth,' said Sushma Jobanputra, the partner in charge of Jones Day’s Singapore operations. 'With that growth will come the increased need for Singapore law advice.'

White & Case, Latham & Watkins, Clifford Chance, Herbert Smith, Allen & Overy and Norton Rose won licenses in 2008, when the market first tentatively opened its borders.

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