Baker & McKenzie has added a Myanmar-qualified senior counsel to its Bangkok office.
Saw Yu Win is joining Baker & McKenzie from Yangon-based Myanmar Thanlwin Legal Services Ltd., an affiliate firm of Southeast Asian regional law firm DFDL, where she has practiced for 15 years advising on investment in the energy, mining, and telecommunications sectors. Prior to that, she was an assistant law lecturer at the University of Yangon.
The hiring of Win makes Baker & McKenzie the first international firm to establish a Myanmar law capability. The firm’s Thailand managing partner, Chirachai Okanurak, says the firm would like to open an office in Myanmar within a year or so, depending on the political situation.
Myanmar’s adoption of wide-ranging political reforms and its transition from military to civilian government have led to a thaw in political and economic relations with Western nations. The United States and European Union have both recently eased longstanding sanctions on doing business in Myanmar, and a flood of foreign investment is expected to pour into the country, which is thought to have extremely rich mineral and oil deposits.
In welcoming Win to Baker & McKenzie, Jeremy Pitts, the firm’s Asia Pacific chairman said: “Throughout our 50 years in the Asia Pacific region, we have strived to be the first to support clients in new markets. Development within Myanmar, and within [members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations], is providing new opportunities for our clients and for our firm.”
Okanurak says the firm would be interested in hiring other Myanmar-qualified lawyers but says it will be a challenge to find others with foreign-language ability like Win, who speaks both English and Japanese.