KPMG adds hundreds of lawyers across Southeast Asia from regional network

Deal sees more than 275 lawyers including around 80 partners join from ZICO Law amid Asia growth push

KPMG has added hundreds of lawyers in Southeast Asia from ZICO Law, a leading network of independent law firms with a presence in 18 cities across the region. 

The agreement sees more than 275 lawyers including around 80 partners join KPMG, representing the bulk of the network's headcount. This will bring the number of legal professionals at the Big Four player to almost 3,200 globally. 

Under the terms of the deal, the former ZICO firms in Indonesia and Malaysia - Roosdiono & Partners and the network's founding firm, Zaid Ibrahim & Co - have become members of KPMG's legal network, while the network firms in Thailand and Vietnam are joining existing KPMG firms in those jurisdictions.

KPMG said it was also planned that ‘subject to satisfaction of all terms’, teams from ZICO Law's firm in Laos will join its local firm there, while the former Philippines member will follow Roosdiono and Zaid Ibrahim in becoming a member firm. The remaining network firms will continue to collaborate with their former allies.

KPMG’s global head of legal services, Stuart Fuller, said the new arrivals would help clients to navigate the increasing strategic and economic importance of the Asia-Pacific region.

“The relationship with Zico Law Network was founded on mutual respect and sharing common views on the market we occupy," he added. "Our association developed further through an amalgam of Zico assessing the next step in the evolution of its business and the desire to become part of a global platform, combined with KPMG Law’s growth strategy and the ability to strengthen and expand its ASPAC capability with the leading regional law firm…"

ZICO Law’s origins go back to 1987, with the founding of Zaid Ibrahim. It subsequently expanded across the region into a leading network of firms with offices in all of the ASEAN countries: Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. It also operated China, Japan and Korea desks. 

The network offers a wide range of legal services including banking and finance, corporate, compliance, dispute resolution, IP and real estate and was affiliated with with the Singapore stock exchange-listed multi-disciplinary service provider ZICO Group. 

KPMG said its expanded footprint in Asia would offer legal services and technology solutions, a globally connected legal services platform and specialists who work with tech providers to modernise legal functions across organisations. 

“We are delighted to have our lawyers join the KPMG firms across the Asia Pacific region, which will boost our legal offerings and build our market leadership to create more value for clients,” said Hanim Hamzah, former regional managing partner of ZICO Law and now the Asia Pacific legal head at KPMG Law in Singapore. 

She added that the move “demonstrates we are responding to our people’s desire for a more robust professional journey in their careers".

The deal comes as the Big Four continue to push for an increasing share of the legal services market, focusing their offering on legal services that support their advisory arms. All four have announced ambitious growth plans for their legal services arms in the UK – in the case of KPMG a plan to more more than double its UK lawyer headcount to north of 400 by the end of 2024. 

A report published last year by Lexis Nexis indicated just how much the Big Four's legal arms had grown in the previous few years, with their global reach and tech integration potentially leaving some law firms outgunned. 

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