Pinsent Masons creates head of APAC role as part of wider regional leadership shakeup

James Morgan-Payler to take the reins in Melbourne as UK firm's head of APAC as Singapore-based Johanna Murray made region's COO


Pinsent Masons has refreshed its leadership structure in Asia Pacific ahead of what it has deemed the next phase of its strategic growth in the region. 

The appointments will see Melbourne-based partner James Morgan-Payler become the firm’s first formal head of APAC, while Singapore-based international business manager Johanna Murray will become the region’s first chief operations officer. 

Morgan-Payler joined the City firm’s Melbourne office in 2019 from Norton Rose Fulbright, where he spent more than nine years as a construction and engineering partner. He led Pinsents’ finance and projects team in Australia, according to his Linkedin profile. 

Commenting on his appointment, Morgan-Payler said:  “Connectivity and the ability to provide our breadth of skill sets is highly valued among our clients. Our new management structure will play a vital role in enhancing our client service delivery as we continue to grow across Asia Pacific.”

The refreshed strategic management team also includes a series of regional leadership appointments, including Matthew Croagh as head of Australia, Ian Laing as head of Singapore, Alvin Ho as a representative for Hong Kong and Kanyi Liu as a representative for China. 

Pinsents reported its APAC revenue had increased by more than 20% over the last three years, while headcount in the region has risen from 247 to 277 during the same period. It opened bases in Melbourne and Sydney in 2016 and planted a flag in Perth a year later, while its bases in China and Singapore have been open since 2007 and 2009 respectively. 

Last summer the firm posted a 16% increase in profit per equity partner to £636,000 for the financial year ending 30 April, as revenue edged up by 1.5% to break the £500m benchmark for the first time.

Two Australia-based lawyers were elevated to partner in the firm’s latest promotions round, with energy and infrastructure duo Louise Santos and Gemma Thomas both receiving the nod in March. 

John Cleland, managing partner at Pinsents, said: “The Asia Pacific region has been growing significantly for many years. The firm is committed to investing in the region and ensuring that our leadership remains ready for the opportunities ahead.”

Singaporean law firm Rajah & Tann also reshuffled its leadership panel last month in a move intended to give younger partners a greater say in the firm’s direction. Arbitration partners Kim Beng Ng and Kelvin Poon stepped up to become joint deputy managing partners, replacing Rebecca Chew, who had held the post since 2016. 


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