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05 May 2020

Mishcon de Reya hires two-partner Withers team to open in Singapore

Top 30 UK firm looks east as it targets private client work having recently pulled out of New York

Portrait of Tahirah Ara

Tahirah Ara and her team were in discussions with Mishcon for a year Photo © Mishcon de Reya; Used with permission. All rights reserved

Leading London firm Mishcon de Reya has opened an office in Singpore after hiring a two-partner team from Withers KhattarWong.

The office, which will be led by restructuring specialist Tahirah Ara, will focus on private client work, advising high-net-worth families across South East Asia.

Ara is joined by private client partner Simon Michaels and US-qualified senior counsel Lawrence Altman plus a team of associates and administrative staff, boosting the total number of employees to ten at launch.

The top 30 UK firm said the move was in line with its ten-year vision, which was unveiled in 2016 and included a commitment to grow its private client and family practices, as well as being a recognition of Asia’s growing economic importance, making it an important target market.

It also solidifies a shift in the firm's international focus: in January it closed its New York office with its three-partner dispute resolution team moving over to King & Wood Mallesons. 

Executive Chair Kevin Gold said: “Singapore is the centre of professional services talent in the region and, as such, is attracting capital from the entire region. Having a physical presence here represents our commitment to both Asia – a key growth area for our firm and the world – and its people, and will be key to enabling us to build meaningful relationships with our clients and intermediaries.”

He added that part of the reason for the firm’s international expansion was the “uncertainty of a post Brexit UK landscape”.

Ara said she and her team had been in discussions with Mishcon for a year, adding: "We believe that, as one business, we will be able to grow significantly on the back of the strong brand that the firm has nurtured and developed. Together, we look forward to continuing to provide our clients, old and new, with the highest quality legal services."

The firm will operate as a licensed Foreign Law Practice in Singapore, meaning its Singapore law work will be restricted to permitted areas, which include commercial arbitration, another key focus for the firm, which last month hired leading international arbitration specialist Louis Flannery QC from Stephenson Harwood.

Mishcon's Singapore launch comes comes hard on the heels of the hire of a three-partner disputes team by fellow London-based independent law firm RPC.

Further reading

Asia round-up: Withers grows arbitration in Hong Kong while Ashurst targets Singapore funds work — King & Wood Mallesons and Latham & Watkins also add to the roster of Asia lateral moves with M&A hires

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