U.S. law firm Morgan, Lewis & Bockius has recently added a number of partners to its Singapore office. Joo Khin Ng, managing partner of Morgan Lewis’ Singapore office, shares with ALB how the firm strategises its Asia offerings through the expansion, and what the Lion City can bring to the table.


ALB: What has been driving the recent expansion of Morgan Lewis’ Singapore presence?

Ng: Singapore remains an important global and regional hub for financial services and has increasingly become a significant jurisdiction for insolvency and restructuring, and disputes and international arbitration activities. While we maintain a measured approach to growth led by what our clients require, we see continued vibrancy in terms of general business activity and an appetite to invest from regional and global clients. We see this across a range of sectors, particularly technology, fintech, life sciences and aviation, where we recently added bench strength.

Our new team members share the firm’s strong cultural commitment to collaboration and working across practices, offices, and regions to best serve our global clients who are often engaged in multidimensional and multijurisdictional matters. As such, our proposition to clients in these areas and across the board will benefit from the additional skillsets our new colleagues bring.

The recent addition of a tax team undergirds the importance of providing a holistic and comprehensive suite of legal services and support to our clients, many of whom have expressed interest in establishing a presence in Singapore to undertake their regional expansion. This is also part of the expansion of the international tax practice of Morgan Lewis.

Singapore also serves as a key gateway jurisdiction to India where we provide a robust suite of services to clients seeking to do business in India as well as companies based in India wanting to expand operations elsewhere. Drawing on their deep familiarity with India’s unique economic environments, many of our new additions will be instrumental in our India Initiative.


ALB: How does Singapore fit in with Morgan Lewis’ Asia strategy at present, and what are the ways you are looking for it to evolve?

Ng: We have an integrated the Asia-Pacific practice operating throughout our offices in Greater China (comprising three offices), Japan and Singapore that work seamlessly together across practice and sector lines that mirror our global offering. This is what our clients can benefit from as they deepen their business in the region and beyond.

Working in step with our colleagues around the world on initiatives and our targeted task forces, we also galvanise around pressing global issues for clients, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and ESG. We bring together lawyers from Singapore and across Asia, the U.S., Europe and the Middle East as well as across practices to bring clients real-time insight on fast-moving developments.

Another example is our efforts in navigating for clients an increased focus around the world on national security considerations for both inbound and outbound transactions through our U.S.-China Trading Policy & Global Impact group.


ALB: You have completed five years as managing partner of the Singapore office. What are some of the lessons you’ve learnt at the helm, and how are you using them in setting strategy?

Ng: We’ve seen a great deal of change in those years, from moving to a completely remote working environment during the COVID-19 pandemic with the return to offices on a regular cadence and the country having recently completely lifting travel restrictions, to geopolitical developments and global economic turmoil.

Apart from seeing the importance of adaptability and flexibility and that remote working can be effective, we also recognise the importance of in-person connection, most specifically for younger lawyers and lawyers who are new to the firm. Our lawyers need to build personal relationships that will help them develop the professional skills they need. We need to come together for everyone’s benefit, collaboration, teaching, development, and engagement.


ALB: With the bolstered bench strength in Singapore, how is your firm planning to expand its offerings to a diversifying clientele in the region with heightening sophisticated needs amidst a complicated economic and political environment?

Ng: Morgan Lewis’ diversified practices, global reach, and relationship firm business model underlies our stability, even during crises. Despite the challenging economic and geopolitical environment globally, we continue to see opportunities emerging in this market as global and Asia-based companies seek business-friendly, stable, and transparent jurisdictions to do business.

Our strategic expansion further underpins our commitment to the Singapore market and our clients, and we will continue to add resources where it makes sense. Our core strengths include our ability to effectively support our clients, not just within Singapore but globally.


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