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Singapore’s dynamic legal landscape is witnessing a surge in boutique firms that have distinguished themselves from the pack. These firms are challenging traditional models by offering specialised expertise, personalised service, and innovative approaches to legal challenges, making them ones to watch in the years to come. Like in previous years, ALB continues to highlight impactful boutique firms that have carved their own niches and made waves in the market. The list is in alphabetical order and some firms have been profiled.

 

 

 

 

Chan & Goh

 

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Colin Chan

 

Chan & Goh, a boutique law firm specialising in funds, has been serving Singapore’s asset management industry for over Colin Chan 24 years. The firm advises on diverse fund structures, including exchange-traded funds (ETFs), hedge funds, and private equity funds and has worked on many variable capital companies (VCCs).

Leading this dedicated team is managing partner Colin Chan, whose depth of knowledge and experience has guided countless clients ranging from international fund managers to boutique and start-up ventures. They provide comprehensive support, from licensing applications and fund structuring to tax and regulatory advice for both retail and high-net-worth investor funds.

Maintaining strong relationships with the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and the Singapore Exchange (SGX) regulatory team has been crucial to the firm’s success. Some of their esteemed clients include Templeton, Vanguard, Dimensional Fund Advisors, HSBC Global Asset Management, Manulife Asset Management, CGS-CIMB, CSOP Asset Management, Nikko Asset Management, Lion Global Investors, Phillip Capital Management, UOB Asset Management, Principal Asset Management and many other Singapore and regional asset managers.

Chan & Goh has pioneered numerous “firsts”, including the first actively managed AI-powered ETF listed on SGX this year. Colin worked on the first unit trust offered under the CPF Investment Scheme in 1998. The firm worked on the first few Luxembourg UCITS funds offered as recognised schemes in 2004, the first ASEAN Qualifying CIS passported into Singapore in 2014, the first REIT ETF listed on SGX in 2016, the first investment grade bond ETF listed in 2018, the first re-domiciliation of a Cayman Islands fund as a VCC in 2020, one of the first VCC ETFs listed in 2022 and the first Singapore-Shenzhen master-feeder ETF listed under the ETF Link in 2022.

Chan & Goh remains committed to being the premier law firm serving the asset management industry in Singapore.

 

CHP Law

 

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Christopher Huang

 

Founded in 2019 by Mr. Christopher Huang, CHP has since grown from a single corporate team to a multi-service firm with 20 fee earners.

CHP’s areas of practice include corporate and commercial advisory, mergers and acquisitions, funds and financial regulations, litigation, and arbitration, restructuring and insolvency, intangible assets and intellectual property, private client advisory, probate and administration, family law, and real estate. The firm’s all-roundedness is reflected in their deal highlights: CHP’s M&A team acted for a majority shareholder of a multinational professional services firm valued at S$45 million in the sale of his shares to a Japanese listed company. The firm has also acted in several high-value disputes, including acting for a listed Australian technology company against the government of a state, in an SIAC arbitration, for a contractual claim exceeding $200 million. The IP team is regularly engaged to advise WIPO and was recently engaged to advise a Malaysian state-owned entity on IP strategies, while the Real Estate team advises various local statutory boards on their real estate matters.

The young and dynamic team at CHP holds fast to their motto, “With You” when advising their clients. This approach is centred around fully under-standing their clients’ commercial needs and walking with them through their business journey so as to grow with their clients and build success together.

 

 

Eng and Co.

 

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Rachel Eng

 

Since its establishment in 2018 in Singapore, Eng and Co. has grown to have 15 fee-earners including five partners, by leveraging being a member of the PwC network that covers

over 100 territories across the globe. Riding on the growth of Variable Capital Companies (VCCs) in the city-state, its asset management and funds team has become a leading practice of the firm, serving numerous fund managers in setting up their funds in Singapore. With the MAS welcoming the establishment of new family offices, this has also been an area of continuous growth for Eng and Co.’s private clients team who advise on the formation of family offices and family trusts.

Unlike traditional law firms which serve clients by product lines, Eng and Co. trains its lawyers to be commercially savvy with the ability to work hand-in-hand with other professionals such as tax, corporate finance and consulting. Its notable cases include the business combination of Vertex Technology Acquisition Corporation with 17LIVE last year as the lead counsel, which was Singa-pore’s first de-SPAC; advising a securities token exchange on its recognised market operator and capital markets services license applications; and advising a leading life insurance company on the establishment of a new financial advisory firm and the transfer of its agents thereto. The firm is led by its founder and managing director, Rachel Eng, a corporate and capital market specialist with close to 30 years of experience, who leads and manages many of its significant client relationships, while partner Colin Ong leads the firm’s asset management and funds team.

 

 

Helmsman

 

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Ian Teo

 

Helmsman, a four-year-old law firm with offices in Singapore and Hong Kong, has grown significantly in the past 12 months by adding five fee-earners and increasing revenue by 50 percent. This has made the total number of fee-earners to 23, including six partners. The key drivers of this growth are expansion of practice areas by addition of ESG and crypto assets groups. Thus, it has also widened its specialty from shipping and commodity.

Some of its notable cases are: successful appeal for the owners of five bunker tankers before the Court of Appeal of Singapore on bills of lading arising out of the insolvency of OW Bunkers; winning a case for Singapore company about $3 million claims against a listed Chinese company, two Hong Kong companies and a Chinese national which involves forgery allegations; and acting for an international commodity trading house in a dispute arising from the insolvency of Hin Leong Trading involving alleged circular trades.

In response to the recent surge in the number of practice areas due to technological developments, increasing risks involving data security and social responsibilities, Helmsman aims to expand its business further in the coming year to add new practice groups and more fee-earners, although details have not yet been disclosed. Key members of the firm include the managing director of Singapore and commercial law expert Ian Teo and the managing partner of Hong Kong and shipping and commodity disputes specialist Tang Chong Jun.

 

 

Meritus Law

 

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Alfred Lim

 

Established in 2022, Meritus Law is run by old hands. The firm handles complex, high-value and cross-border commercial disputes with an established track record for shareholders and joint venture disputes and assists clients in the banking, infrastructure and construction sectors. The firm also assists clients in wealth planning, aviation, regulatory as well as corporate, financing and commercial matters.

In the past year, Meritus has doubled its fee-earners to 10, including four directors. Withers KhattarWong equity partner Ushan Premaratne joined Meri-tus as a director last September. Corporate law specialist Amos Tan from Quahe Woo & Palmer joined Meritus as a director last April to head its fast-growing corporate practice. Senior aviation law expert Rajaram Ramiah oversees the firm’s aviation practice.

Amid uncertain economic outlook in Asia, some law firms have wound down their operations in the region. Meritus, on the other hand, has focused on new opportunities resulting in its revenue doubling in the past year. The firm also receives work arising from the rising influx of funds from Hong Kong and China. Alfred Lim, managing director, is confident that there will be more work in the pipeline, giving Meritus the opportunity to expand further.

Lim, Jaime Lye and Premaratne represent clients before arbitral tribunals, the Supreme Court and the Singapore International Commercial Court. Lye is experienced in commercial litigation, arbitration and dispute resolution in various industries. She is currently enforcing the first arbitral award in Timor-Leste under the New York Convention.

 

Nakoorsha Law

 

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Nakoorsha Law Team

 

Established in 2017, Nakoorsha Law is a compact disputes boutique with three fee-earners, including two partners. But it’s been a centre of attention in the Singaporean legal market by representing a wide variety of high-value cases.

Its notable cases include successful defence of acting for a Singapore-listed trustee, fiduciary and custody services company in its defence over brought by a U.S. special purpose vehicle in the High Court of Singapore in which the plaintiff seeks over $1 million damage in damages by alleging breach of trust, fiduciary duties and unjust enrichment; successfully acting for a pet training and care services provider winning in a defamation case against an individual who had published a defamatory post about the company on Facebook; and successful defence for a former executive director by of a listed company alleging violation of the Companies Act for failing to act honestly in discharge of his duties as a director.

The main drivers behind its growth in the past year were the strong relationships and networks with clients, and it will remain one of the firm’s most important strategies in the coming year. The government’s tighter regulations on white-collar and financial crimes, such as under the Securities and Futures Act, have created more business opportunities for the firm in white-collar crimes such as offences of duty and embezzlement. Nakoorsha Law expects a greater growth can be realised by cultivating and maintaining client relationships as well as engaging in more significant, complex and high-profile criminal and commercial litigations.

 

Omni Law

 

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Oommen Mathew

 

Omni Law was established as a team of conflict-free, cost-effective specialists in resolving civil, commercial and investment disputes through international arbitration and litigation. As a unit of legal experts with deep local and international experience and networks, the team tailors its solutions to each client’s needs while understanding the mindsets of tribunals, courts, and opposing counsel.

The team was founded by Mr Oom-men Mathew, a distinguished counsel who, for decades, served as managing partner of the Singapore offices of two large international law firms. Consistently ranked in Chambers, Best Lawyers, Benchmark Litigation and Legal 500, Mr Mathew has been described by clients as “helming an arbitration practice par excellence”, with “first-rate” strategic acumen and “the ability to transcend borders and deal with clients from different cultures and backgrounds effectively”.

Despite being established recently in 2020, the team has taken on numerous complex, high-value, contentious matters in a diverse range of industries (energy, fintech, banking, infrastructure, real estate, media, etc.), often going head-to-head with much larger law firms. Recent notable cases include a $145 million SIAC arbitration against a foreign State-owned entity for wrongful termination, a $60 million Singapore court action against an international bank for wrongful default on a letter of credit, a $11 million SIMC mediation with a global fintech company, and a Singapore court action under the UNCITRAL Model Law on Cross-Border Insolvency on a foreign liquidator’s behalf.

 

Prolegis

 

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Daniel Chia

 

Prolegis (which is in a Formal Law Alliance (FLA) with Herbert Smith Freehills) has embarked on a renewal spree. It added projects/infra-structure capability by hiring Adrian Wong in 2022 as the head of projects. Last year, it added Daniel Chia to launch its litigation practice: which now consists of litigation, regulatory and restructuring specialists.

The expanded firm’s focus is on legal services arising from power, energy transition, new economy businesses, technology and navigating geopolitical uncertainties. This aligns with Singa-pore positioning as a hub for finance, international disputes and restructuring. Through the FLA, it provides clients a “one-stop” solution to their various legal needs and marries the best of both international know-how and infrastructure with local and regional expertise and experience.

The firm’s present caseload reflects this: It advised on development of large-scale data centres in India and presently represents several global and regional crypto exchanges in cross-border restructuring and regulatory matters. It also has an active caseload in the Singapore International Commercial Courts—enforcement and challenging multimillion-dollar arbitral awards and litigating several banking dispute matters.

 

Schellenberg Wittmer

 

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Julie Raneda

 

Schellenberg Wittmer is the only major Swiss law firm with an office in Singapore, distinguishing itself as the go-to partner for cross-border work with Switzerland and international arbitration matters in Singapore and the region.

The firm practitioners cover key jurisdictions and markets in the Asia-Pacific region, assisting clients with both inbound and outbound investments. They assist Swiss and European clients with their investments and projects in Asia and advise Asian clients on all legal, tax and regulatory aspects, focusing on key areas such as financial services, real estate, information technology and luxury brands. Our team also acts in disputes of all types and magnitude, including complex multi-jurisdictional commercial, investment and sports disputes.

With substantial cross-border experience, the firm routinely leads and participates in major international projects. Schellenberg Wittmer excels in establishing and coordinating international teams of legal advisors to handle complex matters with a minimum of delay. The new managing director of the Singapore office Julie Raneda specializes in arbitration. The firm’s arbitration practice is best known for being one of very few civil law jurisdiction-based firms offering first-tier arbitration services in the field of civil law, whereas other local and international firms have a common-law focus or do not focus on international arbitration. This is key to the many Asian clients involved in arbitrations in Switzerland.

Swiss law ranks among the top three choices for international commercial contracts, and Switzerland holds a prominent position globally for arbitration, thanks to its renowned neutrality and pro-arbitration legal framework.

 

Venture Law

 

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Venture Law has had a tremendous start from inception. From the end of 2022 when it was formed to 2023, the firm advised on the establishment and syndication of multiple funds; various debt and equity transactions and public and private M&A, including the de-SPAC of one of the listed SPACs on the Singapore Exchange. Venture Law’s strength is its deep expertise in transactional matters such as equity and debt fundraising, private and public M&A, fund formation and syndication and regulatory advice. Responding to incoming work, the firm has grown by tripling its headcount and plans further expansion.

The firm believes clients expect value and thoughtful lawyering, which defines the firm’s philosophy of providing the depth of attention, experience and commercial acumen associated with partner or senior-level lawyering.

The team is led by Lock Yin Mei, a veteran with decades of experience in public equity, debt and hybrid fundraising, public and private M&A, fund formation and regulatory advice. The other senior lawyers of the firm, Yang Kai Hsien (public and private M&A, capital markets and regulatory advice), Jeremy Teh (funds, M&A and capital markets), Wong Wei Ling (regulatory, funds and capital markets) and Edwin Ng (bank-ing and finance), are all key members of the team, each leveraging on more than a decade of experience to provide the best advice.

 

       

 

 

ALB SINGAPORE FIRMS TO WATCH 2024

ASIA PRACTICE

BLACKOAK

BLACKSTONE & GOLD

CHAN & GOH

CHP LAW

CHUA & PARTNERS

COVENANT CHAMBERS

DUNBAR & LIM CHAMBERS

ENG AND CO.

FORTRESS LAW CORPORATION

HAN KUN LAW OFFICES

HARNEY WESTWOOD & RIEGELS SINGAPORE

HELMSMAN

JOSEPH LOPEZ

MERITUS LAW

NAKOORSHA LAW CORPORATION

OMNI LAW

PROLEGIS

RUBICON LAW

SCHELLENBERG WITTMER

SETIA LAW

SILVESTER LEGAL LLC

VANILLA LAW

VENTURE LAW

WMH LAW CORPORATION

 

 

 

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