The COVID-19 pandemic might have posed challenges for the legal industry, but across the Asian region, there are firms that have successfully overcome these challenges and continued to grow, either through headcount, or through revenue, or by continuing to add clients. The inaugural ALB Fast 30 list celebrates the tenacity and ambition of these firms. The list is in alphabetical order, and a few firms have been profiled.
Antares Legal, based in National Capital Region, India, managed by Arjun Anand, Seher Ali and Siddharth Bhavnani, has more than doubled its team from six to thirteen lawyers in the twelve months since August 2020, with significant growth in revenues during the period.
The firm has a strong focus on the early and mid-market client segment and serves a varied range of clients across industry sectors. Partners at Antares have vast experiences in advising small and medium businesses, private equity funds and venture capital funds, and have developed a reputation for being trusted advisors to clients such as: BharatPe, Carpediem Capital, Nichrin Imperial Autoparts Private Limited, MMS Ship Management and Wingreens Farms.
Given the COVID pandemic, challenges faced by clients brought about multi-fold changes to their operating environments and this rendered the firm’s corporate advisory services very relevant during the period. The corporate advisory practice at Antares Legal is staffed with experienced, solution-oriented lawyers. Further, the firm’s transactions practice has benefited from the recent surge in capital deployment by funds and other financial institutions, with Antares securing over 30 transactional mandates in the year to August 2021, including having advised BharatPe on a US$ 370 million Series E fundraise led by Tiger Global.
Recent clients of the firm include SWAMIH (a fund managed by SBICap Ventures) and Calltek Inc. (a U.S. entity in the BPO segment) and CG Corp Global (a multinational conglomerate).
Clasis Law, with offices in New Delhi and Mumbai, hired four lawyers in the 12 months to August 2021 and the total number of lawyers as of the end of August stood at 34. It also expanded its practice areas by starting advice on financial services and data privacy and protection in the same 12 months while putting more focus on fintech companies.
The firm built capability to function smoothly during the country-wide lock-down induced by the COVID pandemic. While many of the business development activities were on hold due to travel and other related restrictions, Clasis Law didn’t limit its digitalisation budgets to reach out to clients and laws firms across the world through web seminars, round-table discussions, panel discussions and legal updates which include a special edition of its newsletter “COVID-19 - Global Perspective” covering 11 jurisdictions. Further, an exclusive initiative was launched for general counsels, legal department heads to contribute a column to firm’s monthly legal bulletin, giving readers an overview about the latest industry trends and how in-house counsels are dealing with the changes.
Clasis Law has extended this digitalisation to clients to help them revive, restart, and recalibrate quickly during and after COVID, for which under-standing new technology was key. One of the major initiatives the firm has taken is going beyond the law and helping clients build solutions that in-house legal teams can take to other parts of their businesses.
Economic Laws Practice
Economic Laws Practice (ELP), one of India’s best-known full-service law firms hired 55 lawyers in the 12 months to August 2021, bringing its total number of lawyers to 177.
The firm also opened a new office in GIFT City, and now operates in seven major cities in the country: Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Pune, Chennai, Ahmedabad and GIFT City.
The new additions in the partner-ship include Yashojit Mitra as partner (corporate/commercial), Vinay Butani as partner (corporate/commercial), Mumtaz Bhalla as partner (litigation, arbitration and dispute resolution), Mitesh Chauhan as director (tax) and Varun Parmar as associate partner (tax).
Even as the COVID pandemic posed challenges in keeping existing business flowing and securing new clients, ELP significantly increased communication from its leadership across the firm, regularly holding webinars about its practice areas to enhance its advising capability, while having sector-focused online meetings with clients to provide them with regular updates. One of ELP’s major achievements during the lockdown was the mandate given to it by the National Investment Promotion and Facilitation Agency of India for its flagship program Invest India, and ELP assisted with the entire compliance module of doing business in and with India.
The firm also actively engages and collaborates with governments, regulators, legislators, and industry associations to foster a conducive environment for businesses to grow and thrive.
ELP provides support to clients in new areas of law including landmark legislations in India such as Competition Act, new Companies Act and transition to GST. ELP’s vision is to be a young and dynamic firm which brings value to clients with practical, qualitative and efficient advice based on the belief that growth and sustainability ultimately depend on the value and honesty that one brings to the table.
Singapore & Hong Kong
Helmsman Llc, based in Singapore and Hong Kong (the latter through association with Tang & Co), hired 13 lawyers in the past 18 months, expanding its team from seven members to 20. The firm boasts a high retention rate of clients by providing all-round services to clients, from litigation and arbitration work to corporate, banking and finance advice.
The firm operates internationally in terms of clients and work, routinely acting in high-value commercial litigation and arbitrations across the world, particularly in Asia and Europe. Recent achievements include advising a Malaysian palm oil producer on multi-million-dollar Grain and Feed Trade Association arbitrations; and an American trading corporation in its claim against an Asian company for the latter’s failure and/or refusal to take delivery of corn shipments.
Originally, Helmsman’s growth strategy was to focus on providing expert advice on commodity trading and shipping laws and regulations. As it strives to support clients with plain, practical, down-to-earth advice, it has seen higher demands from major corporates operating worldwide for advisory and dispute resolution work on commercial issues and support for corporate, banking and financing matters. Helmsman has a robust practice providing legal advice to clients worldwide, including Southeast Asia and Greater China.
Helmsman has recently expanded its practice to include resolution of general commercial disputes, insolvency-related work, employment issues, as well as banking, corporate and finance support. The firm provides all-round legal advice and assistance to cover all types of businesses, which includes reviewing and advising on contracts and counterparties; understanding and identifying various risks in business operations and helping manage them; and assisting in restructuring.
Kudun and Partners
Kudun and Partners, a full-service law firm in Bangkok, added 14 lawyers in the 12 months to August 2021, including Phawana Niemloy, former general counsel of Krungsri Bank, as senior counsel. These additions boosted the total number of its lawyers to 61.
Despite the fact that business has been dampened globally due to the ongoing COVID-pandemic, Kudun and Partners turned this work-from-home environment into an opportunity by adding a practice area relevant to the global situation: a digital law practice incorporating data privacy and protection via KAP-Cloud, Kudun and Partners’ affiliate dedicated to the upcoming and disruptive metaverse economy. Through this addition, Kudun and Partners has offered advice not only about compliance but also about business solutions to both public and private companies in various industries across the world amid a period of rapidly changing laws and regulations following technological developments fueled by the increasingly digitalized world.
Also, the firm added KAP-X, a practice dedicated to startups as another new practice area, offering accessible yet professional advice to startups on their journey from ideation to IPO in Thailand and beyond.
Kudun and Partners’ revenue in 2020 rose 8 percent year-on-year, despite a drop in foreign direct investment in Thailand due to the lockdown, by focusing on the domestic market. The growth was partly aided by these new additions, but another contributing factor is price. The firm has kept its rates at fair levels on the backdrop that the pandemic has affected all sectors. The efforts include providing capped-fee and retainer services to long-time clients and competitive pricing arrangements to startups. At the same time, the firm keeps updating its capabilities with new partnerships.
LexOrbis is a comprehensive intellectual property (IP) law firm based at three strategic locations India: Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru, advising global clients on protecting and enforcing their rights in patents, trademarks, designs, copyrights, geographic indications and domain names, among others.
The firm plans to open two new offices, while already increasing its professional team to 110 as of the end of August 2021 from 85 a year ago. It also added practice areas in the 12 months that go beyond conventional IP-related businesses, such as topography of semi-conductors, competition laws and IP interface, and media and entertainment, and also relatively new IP areas, such as plant varieties and biodiversity.
IP is a wide area and LexOrbis serves as a one-stop shop for all IP issues, representing clients across all judicial and quasi-judicial forums, including the Intellectual Property Offices, Intellectual Property Appellate Board, District Courts, High Courts and Supreme Court of India, along with global corporations. The firm’s services cover IP clearances to procurement of patent, design, trademark, copyright, domain names, geographical rights, registrations in India etc. These practices include maintenance and renewal of IP assets by advising transactional and commercial matters related to IP including assignment, licensing and franchising, collaborative research, contract manufacturing, as well as support for cross-border IP litigations in this age of global digital communications.
The firm espouses the cause of equal opportunity and has, at any given point, employed about 75% of women professionals and staff. The firm has employed people from all over India and has created a pool of talent coming from diverse backgrounds. The core objective is to empower diverse groups to help them succeed and give them an equal opportunity to excel.
Oon & Bazul
Singapore & Malaysia
Founded in 2002, Oon & Bazul LLP is one of Singapore’s largest conflict-free law firms and leading commercial legal practice. Oon & Bazul is known for delivering high-quality work as well as its commitment to helping clients achieve success. Oon & Bazul is also domiciled in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with its own associate firm TS Oon & Partners, with both offices working closely together on matters involving Singapore and Malaysia law.
The firm’s strategy is to collaborate with the best lawyers throughout Asia, without exclusive tie-ups, to ensure that regional clients are served by the best-suited professionals in their respective fields of expertise. As part of Oon & Bazul’s international work scope, its bench of lawyers are fluent in English, Mandarin, Bahasa Melayu, Bahasa Indonesia, Tamil, Japanese and Korean. The firm has a sterling international law practice dealing with matters across continents, enabling Oon & Bazul’s lawyers to be particularly adept at coordinating matters involving multiple jurisdictions. As a result of Oon & Bazul’s relentless search and development of talent, its lawyers are able to formulate winning strategies innovatively and effectively while keeping to reasonable legal fees. Oon & Bazul’s clientele includes sovereign states, Fortune Global 500 corporations, large multi-national corporations, financial institutions, and high-net-worth individuals.
Oon & Bazul recently added three partners, one from the Big 4 and two from a Magic Circle firm, to its litigation and dispute resolution practice. white-collar crime and investigations specialist Benedict Eoon joined the firm in September 2021, followed by Jerald Foo and Priscilla Lua in October 2021. The hires, which bring Oon & Bazul’s partner headcount to 19 and its lawyer headcount to 60, come amid a marked uptick in litigation, arbitration, and dispute resolution work in Singapore.
In the 12 months between August 2020 and August 2021, Sagus Legal more than doubled the number of its lawyers to 18 from seven, opened two offices in Gurugram and Bhubaneswar, and expanded its home base in New Delhi.
Sagus Legal’s business strategy is simple: To maintain steady growth at all levels of clients and practice areas by professional and efficient services. Led by, Anand Shrivastava, who has expertise in dispute resolution, regulatory litigation, and infrastructure and energy, Sagus Legal added new practice areas including dispute resolution, infrastructure and energy, white-collar crime, insolvency and bankruptcy and financial regulatory in the 12 months and expanded its reach.
This expansion has enabled the firm to widen its client base, recently advising Minda Corp., Petronet LNG, Defmacro Software, REC Ltd., TP Central Odisha Distribution, Tata Power Delhi Distribution etc. These are in addition to its existing client base comprising of Tier 1 Indian companies, as well as relatively new startups.
The firm as a whole is headed by Shruti Kanodia, who has over 13 years of experience in public and private M&A, private equity and venture capital investments, banking and finance, regulatory advisory, general corporate advisory including senior management employment, insolvency and bankruptcy, distressed acquisitions, business restructuring and pre-litigation advisory, across a wide range of businesses from oil and gas to power, infrastructure, hotels and hospitality and so on.
A team of approximately 45-50 lawyers will be providing wide range of services over the next three years from five different offices at various locations in India. The firm’s focus has been on growth of clients and practices, which has led to consequent growth in fee earners and revenues.
ALB FAST 30: ASIA'S FASTEST GROWING FIRMS 2021
Cocking & Co
Eric Chow & Co (Commerce & Finance Law Offices)
Economic Laws Practice
Eng and Co
Gorriceta Africa Cauton & Saavedra
King Stubb & Kasiva
Kudun & Partners
Miura & Partners
Oon & Bazul
Stratage Law Partners
Tanner De Witt
Tolosa Javier Lim & Chua Law Firm
Yang Chan & Jamison
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