In its third annual Asia Super 50 TMT Lawyers list, Asian Legal Business showcases the leading lawyers in the region’s technology, media, and telecommunications practices who have won wide acclaim from clients. The list is in alphabetical order, and certain lawyers have been profiled.
Rakesh Kirpalani is the director of dispute resolution and information technology at Drew & Napier, where he specialises in resolving complex commercial and technological disputes through litigation and arbitration. At 37, he was appointed Chief Technology Ofﬁcer at Drew & Napier, thanks to his unique combination of legal, commercial, and technological talent. He has led the ﬁrm’s digital transformation and paved the way for the adoption of legal technology practice in the ﬁrm. He leads the DrewTech team, which manages disputes and risks for clients in areas where technology and the law intersect.
Kirpalani is an experienced trial advocate and appellate lawyer who practices at all levels of the Singapore courts. He also advises on risk management and disputes relating to technology, electronic evidence, employment, compliance with technology-related regulatory requirements and cybersecurity.
With extensive skills and knowledge in the information technology ﬁeld, he manages both the legal and technological aspects of cases for clients, regulators, judges, and arbitrators. His diverse client base spans multinational corporations, private equity funds and listed companies across Singapore and other jurisdictions.
Kirpalani has worked on various noteworthy cases, including acting as international counsel to a multinational regulated institution in response to a ransomware attack, representing investment companies in arbitration over the failed deployment of IT systems, advising an Indian data analytics company on data exposure due to server misconﬁguration, and advising a company listed on the Singapore Exchange on migration issues to a new platform. He also advised an insurance major on using secured and unsecured electronic signatures in insurance transactions involving legal matters requiring technical knowledge of public and private key encryption and document hashing.
During his legal career of over 16 years, Kirpalani has been widely acclaimed in the industry for his exceptional work in commercial dispute resolution, technology regulations and cybersecurity. He has been recognised as being amongst the top 50 disputes lawyers in the region in 2022. He is also listed as one of the standout lawyers in the TMT ﬁeld for three consecutive years since 2021 by Asian Legal Business.
One of his clients praises him for his ability to provide creative and effective legal solutions and commends, “No other Singapore lawyer is as approachable as Rakesh. It is so easy to communicate with him because he instinctively knows what in-house counsel is looking for.”
“Rakesh demonstrates a unique ability to straddle the tech and legal space. He is very sharp and can identify potential risks and liabilities in novel issues caused by emerging technology. He can ensure that our leaders fully comprehend and appreciate the issue while remaining professional and ethical. Rakesh’s grasp and understanding of the local TMT landscape never fail to assure us that we are guided by one of the best in the market,” adds another.
Dentons Rodyk, Singapore Gilbert Leong is a senior partner and head of the intellectual property and technology practice group of Dentons Rodyk. He also co-heads the patents, TMT, licensing, data privacy and protection and cyber securities practices.
With a wealth of experience as a seasoned commercial and IP counsel, Leong is well-versed in negotiating and drafting commercial agreements pertaining to the distribution of goods/services, procurement and tenders, manufacturing agreements, licensing, maintenance, acquisition of intellectual property (trademarks and patents), consultancy services and IP structuring.
As the head of technology practice, Leong has offered guidance to clients on various aspects of IT hardware/systems acquisition, software development and marketing, large-scale IT/outsourcing projects, as well as telecommunication market access and infrastructural issues. He has recently been actively engaged in the ﬁntech, insurtech and medtech industries.
Additionally, he is a well-established expert in data privacy and protection, having been involved in this ﬁeld since the days when data protection was only talked about as a Model Data Protection Code for the Private Sector years before Singapore enacted legislation to protect personal data.
Leong has also advised signiﬁcant organisations in the insurance, higher education, social media, e-commerce, hotels, ﬁnancial services, transportation/logistics, IT, and telecommunication sectors on signiﬁcant cyber breach incidents.
His recent work highlights include advising a Web 3.0 investment company on a target company possessing significant intellectual property and technology that would augment his client’s capabilities in the FinTech network. His expertise proved vital in conducting the sales and purchase transaction, dealing with complex issues such as whether the target had duly obtained consent from individuals, and the extent of open source used that may be enmeshed with any IP deployed.
Another signiﬁcant case that Leong worked on involved advising on integrating and deploying a new IT system for healthcare institutions and service providers across Singapore. The matter was particularly challenging due to the involvement of several parties from different sectors and the complex multilateral negotiation process. The project is of great signiﬁcance to the healthcare sector in Singapore as it utilises technology to enable healthcare institutions to provide personalised medical treatment to patients.
One client speaks highly of him and considers his services “seamless, as he understands our business, technology and risk appetite” and adds that he is always able to “integrate legal, commercial and technology know-how into advice.”
Another client adds: “Gilbert has deep knowledge, experience, and insight in technology elements not just as counsel having dealt with legal matters but having overseen and having that deep understanding of how things work for his own ﬁrm. Means he can apply the law appropriately.”
CHONG KIN LIM
Singapore Chong Kin Lim is the managing director of the corporate and ﬁnance department of Drew & Napier, where he co-heads the competition law & regulatory practice and data protection, privacy and cybersecurity practice. He also heads the ﬁrm’s telecommunications, media, and technology practice.
Lim has played a pivotal role in developing sectoral competition regulation in Singapore, particularly in the telecommunications, media, and postal industries. He has advised sectoral competition regulators on liberalisation, market access, licensing, competition regulation, merger reviews and enforcement issues since 1999, and successfully defended the regulators in various ministerial appeals.
Lim’s leadership has enabled Drew & Napier’s TMT practice to gain unparalleled experience in transactional, licensing, and regulatory matters related to Singapore’s telecommunications, technology, media and postal sectors . The TMT practice has worked on all significant developments in the market and serves a broad range of clients, including multinational corporations, local companies, telecommunication carriers, service providers, network operators and hard-ware manufacturers.
Additionally, he established the Drew Data Protection and Cybersecurity Academy, a ﬁrst-of-its-kind offering value-added services like training and external DPO services. He brought on board experts from Singapore’s Personal Data Protection Commission.
One of Lim’s most notable works is implementing and drafting the converged competition code for telecommunications and media markets, an ongoing project that aims to harmonise the competition code for Singapore’s telecommunications and media industries. The new converged Telecom and Media Competition Code (TMCC), which Lim and his team drafted, came into effect on May 2, 2022, establishing the regulatory framework for the telecommunications and media industries in the coming years as the primary guidebook governing various market-related issues.
His expertise also extends beyond Singapore. He is currently assisting the Authority for Info-communications Technology Industry (AITI) of Brunei in developing the personal data protection and licensing regulatory framework for the postal sector. The projects involve the development of legislation and regulatory instruments that would facilitate cross-border ﬂows of personal data and secure effective oversight of the regulator concerning the postal market.
One of Lim’s clients says, “Chong Kin is a very technically proﬁcient and commercially savvy lawyer. He has an in-depth understanding of the regulator and is a competent, professional, and experienced legal adviser. Their TMT team under his lead is superb and knowledgeable.”
“His approach to the query is creative and transformational without compromising on compliance and regulatory requirements. Information is proactively cascaded to us to ensure compliance and, at times, intuitive. He allows us to have free access to very relevant learning sessions to keep us abreast of the latest trends and upcoming laws and regulations, and he partnered with subject matter experts on relevant topics on telco, cyber security, and other technology processes,” adds another.
Pramudya A. Oktavinanda (Pram) is the managing partner of UMBRA – Strategic Legal Solutions. With expertise in mergers and acquisitions, spin-offs of public and private corporations, debt and pre-IPO restructuring, corporate compliance, project ﬁnancing, public policy, and telecommunication, media, and technology, he has been highly sought after for handling transactions that require a combination of exceptional legal skills, deep understanding of business strategies, and the abilities to devise ingenious and practical solutions.
Throughout his legal career spanning nearly 20 years, Pram has served as the lead counsel to support several local and international governmental and commercial entities in various high-stakes legal matters both domestically and abroad. His wealth of experience covers over 300 deals at a minimum of $65 billion.
One signiﬁcant matter that Pram has handled in the recent year was the spin-off of Sigma Cipta Caraka’s (SCC) Data Centre Business to Telkom Data Ekosistem (TDE) and new investment by Telkom Indonesia in TDE and SCC for the establishment of the largest data centre and IT services companies in Indonesia.
This complex deal involved multiple transactions in restructuring Telkom Group’s data centre and IT services via acquisition through a signiﬁcant investment in SCC and TDE, followed by a spin-off entailing the creation of novel structures designed to ensure its swift completion within the tight timeline. The deal has attracted considerable attention for setting a new precedent considering that no regulatory guidance is yet in place for spinoff in the country.
Another important deal that Pram has advised on, which also won ALB’s Indonesia M&A Deal of the Year in 2022, was the sale and leaseback transaction of 10,050 telco towers of Telkomsel to Mitratel. The deal was valued at 16.48 trillion rupiah ($1.094 billion), making it the largest telco assets M&A transaction in Southeast Asia and the second largest in the Asia Paciﬁc to date.
Pram has led the team to effectively facilitate the smooth closing of the deal through an innovative formula embedded in the relevant transaction documents to simplify the closing procedures and ensure the transitional regulatory waiver is granted for affiliated party transactions between subsidiaries of the listed company during the process.
Meanwhile, the unique bifurcation strategy and deemed consent notiﬁcation have been developed to streamline and expedite the process to allow a seamless and efficient closing for the asset M&A that required the participation of multiple stakeholders with large numbers to transfer assets and contracts.
“I feel conﬁdent and at ease with him by my side, because Pak Pram would always ﬁnd a solution even in those seemingly impossible moments and will ensure that our interest is well and reasonably defended during negotiation or discussion with counterparts,” says one client.
“Most importantly, he gets things done. His commercial understanding and commitment to close a deal by ﬁnding innovative yet compliant means are simply unparalleled,” adds another.
ALB ASIA SUPER 50 TMT LAWYERS 2023
STUART S. BERAHA
DONG SHIK CHOI
PROBIR ROY CHOWDHURY
DANG THE DUC
FOO MAW JIUN
SETH M. GRAHAM
GERARD A. HEKKER
WILLIAM Z. HO
SUN HEE KIM
MIKA ISAC KRIYASA
CHONG KIN LIM
JI YEON PARK
KWANG BAE PARK
VIKRAM JEET SINGH
TONG LAI LING