Singapore
Singapore (Photo by iStock)

A week after announcing massive layoffs abroad, DLA Piper is considering forging a formal law alliance with a Singapore firm in order to practice local law in the city-state.

J. Terence O’Malley, a Nebraska native who chairs the global legal giant’s Asia committee from San Diego, said indications from the Singaporean government that it is not going to issue any more Qualifying Foreign Law Practice (QFLP) licenses make a joint law venture (JLV) or formal law alliance (FLA) the only “viable” options for establishing a local law presence in the financial services center.

Under either arrangement, DLA Piper would have to enter into a cooperation agreement with a local law firm to offer domestic law advice in Singapore.

“Which of those two might be attractive would depend on what you decided you were trying to achieve in that market,” O’Malley said.

The move to a JLV or FLA marks a change in strategy by the firm, which as reported by sibling publication Legal Week in 2014, has twice applied for a QFLP in Singapore, ultimately unsuccessfully.

“As a market, I think Singapore has struggled a bit over the last year [as] the capital markets have been troubled … so whether it is the right time to do something dramatic or not is up for debate,” added O’Malley.

In March, sibling publication The Asian Lawyer broke the news that British firm Eversheds was in discussions with local Singapore firm the Harry Elias Partnership about a potential merger. If that deal goes ahead, Eversheds would combine its eight-partner Singapore office with 56-lawyer Harry Elias and become the latest international firm to enter the city-state’s domestic legal market.

In April 2015, Singapore’s Stamford Law Corp. swore off a JLV or FLA and inked a first-of-its-kind merger with Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, creating the largest global firm in the city-state.

Under a JLV, a foreign firm can take a 33 percent profit and equity share in a Singapore partnership, although it may share up to 49 percent of the profit of any one practice. In January, British firm Reynolds Porter Chamberlain secured a JLV with domestic Singapore outfit Premier Law in a deal that went live on May 1.

That news followed London-based legal giant Herbert Smith Freehills’ announcement in December that it had formalized its relationship with so-called best friend firm Prolegis in Singapore under an FLA. An FLA allows firms to share branding, training and expertise, while also permitting the issuance of single client bills when they have cooperated on a matter.

A week after announcing massive layoffs abroad, DLA Piper is considering forging a formal law alliance with a Singapore firm in order to practice local law in the city-state.

J. Terence O’Malley, a Nebraska native who chairs the global legal giant’s Asia committee from San Diego, said indications from the Singaporean government that it is not going to issue any more Qualifying Foreign Law Practice (QFLP) licenses make a joint law venture (JLV) or formal law alliance (FLA) the only “viable” options for establishing a local law presence in the financial services center.

Under either arrangement, DLA Piper would have to enter into a cooperation agreement with a local law firm to offer domestic law advice in Singapore.

“Which of those two might be attractive would depend on what you decided you were trying to achieve in that market,” O’Malley said.

The move to a JLV or FLA marks a change in strategy by the firm, which as reported by sibling publication Legal Week in 2014, has twice applied for a QFLP in Singapore, ultimately unsuccessfully.

“As a market, I think Singapore has struggled a bit over the last year [as] the capital markets have been troubled … so whether it is the right time to do something dramatic or not is up for debate,” added O’Malley.

In March, sibling publication The Asian Lawyer broke the news that British firm Eversheds was in discussions with local Singapore firm the Harry Elias Partnership about a potential merger. If that deal goes ahead, Eversheds would combine its eight-partner Singapore office with 56-lawyer Harry Elias and become the latest international firm to enter the city-state’s domestic legal market.

In April 2015, Singapore’s Stamford Law Corp. swore off a JLV or FLA and inked a first-of-its-kind merger with Morgan, Lewis & Bockius , creating the largest global firm in the city-state.

Under a JLV, a foreign firm can take a 33 percent profit and equity share in a Singapore partnership, although it may share up to 49 percent of the profit of any one practice. In January, British firm Reynolds Porter Chamberlain secured a JLV with domestic Singapore outfit Premier Law in a deal that went live on May 1.

That news followed London-based legal giant Herbert Smith Freehills ’ announcement in December that it had formalized its relationship with so-called best friend firm Prolegis in Singapore under an FLA. An FLA allows firms to share branding, training and expertise, while also permitting the issuance of single client bills when they have cooperated on a matter.