The past few years have seen several newcomers break into Southeast Asia to seize intra-Asian deal opportunities. Chinese and Japanese firms, in particular, have set up shop in the region, and as competition on the ground steepens, regional firms are choosing to bank on their relationships with international players for a bigger share of referral work.

“We are very clear on the fact that our role is to act as local counsel,” said Audray Souche, managing partner of the Cambodia-based firm DFDL. “We tried some years ago to have some English law resources, but we have completely given up on this because that sent the wrong signals to international firms. It’s very important that we maintain a clear perception that DFDL is not competing with international firms referring work to us.”

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