01 Sep 2021

McDermott opens APAC gateway with Singapore office launch

Move sees firm relaunch in Asia after last year’s Shanghai exit

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Am Law 100 firm McDermott Will & Emery has an on-the-ground presence in Asia once again after launching an office in Singapore.

The move comes after the firm’s transfer of its Shanghai joint venture office to Chicago rival Winston & Strawn last year marked the end of its physical presence in the region.  

McDermott highlighted its significant client relationships across Asia, saying that it sees Singapore as a centre for further expansion in Asia Pacific as well as Southeast Asia, and also sees ‘great connectivity’ for its India practice across APAC and EMEA.

“We have always been ambitious regarding Asia but it was necessary to find a more complete and diversified offering that reflects the firm’s global strengths,” said Michael Poulos, McDermott partner in charge of strategy. “It became clear over time that Singapore was the place to establish our hub. We already have strong links between Singapore and US, London and key European offices, as well as having a number of lawyers active in the region, so a team on the ground to complement our existing international offering provides a powerful boost to our growth plans.”

The Singapore office will be multi-practice, with an offering focused on commercial transactions, energy and infrastructure, M&A, capital markets, technology, government investigations/arbitration and private wealth/tax.

The firm declined to confirm who will serve as the new office’s managing partner. But it will feature partner Ignatius Hwang, who spearheaded the launch of Squire Patton Bogg’s office in the city-state in 2012 and served as its co-managing partner before moving to McDermott earlier this year.  

He will be joined by fellow energy and infrastructure heavyweight Merrick White, who moved to McDermott shortly after Hwang from King & Spalding’s Singapore office. Both men have been based in London in the interim. 

A spokesperson said additional team members will move to the city-state and further lawyer hires will be announced in the next weeks. The firm will continue to grow the team in the coming months and plans to build a ‘truly diversified offering, so at the moment there is no cap on the size of the office.’

McDermott’s Singapore move comes hot on the heels of San Francisco player Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe launching in the city-state, also with an energy and infrastructure partner at the helm.

And Latham & Watkins announced last month it had picked up an energy and infrastructure partner trio in Singapore from Shearman & Sterling and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.

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