The latest international firm expanding into Singapore is CMS, which has secured a local law capability in the city-state with the launch of a formal law alliance.
CMS has entered into a formal relationship with seven-lawyer boutique Holborn Law, which as of Sept. 1 will operate in Singapore as CMS Holborn Asia. The formal law alliance allows the CMS and Holborn Law to provide both Singapore and international law services from a single platform with Singapore litigation representation and provided through Holborn Law.*
Holborn Law was launched in 2015 by Lakshanthi Fernando, a litigation and arbitration specialist who had spent the previous six years as head of arbitration and deputy managing partner at Singapore’s LegalStandard. Holborn Law had a nonexclusive association with London-based Olswang, which merged with CMS in May.
Fernando served as a managing director at Holborn Law, which last year picked up director Jeremy Tan, who specializes in technology, media and telecommunications matters, from Norton Rose Fulbright.
CMS’ current Singapore presence is the result of the combination of two legacy offices in the city-state—those of British firms Olswang and Nabarro—following the three-way combination between the firms. The formal alliance takes the number of CMS lawyers operating in Singapore to 30, said Singapore managing partner Andrew Stott.
Stott, a former Singapore managing partner at Olswang, took over as managing partner of the merged office when the CMS merger went live on May 1. He had led Olswang’s Singapore practice since May 2016 after succeeding former Asia head Rob Bratby, who subsequently left the firm to join Arnold & Porter ahead of the latter’s merger with Kaye Scholer on Jan 1.
“Our growth has been driven by client support for our sector-aligned model across our practice groups,” Stott said. “It also cements our investment in, and commitment to, contributing to the growth of the nation as a hub for local and global businesses operating in the region.”
In February, CMS senior partner Penelope Warne said that the firm had identified Asia as an immediate post-merger focus for investment. CMS U.K. managing partner Stephen Millar said the acquisition of a Singapore presence via the unions with Nabarro and Olswang had filled “a big gap” for the firm.
Nabarro opened in Singapore in 2010, while Olswang set up shop in the city-state a year later. CMS’ Singapore tie-up with Holborn Law follows similar recent arrangements by several international law firms.
In May, Ashurst launched a formal law alliance with local firm ADTLaw, a move that followed a joint law venture established by fellow British firm Simmons & Simmons and its local partner JWS Asia Law in October 2016. Reed Smith also entered an alliance in Singapore last year with Resource Law.
*Updated 9/22: The second paragraph of this story has been modified to reflect the text of local regulation.