With the growing complexity of regulations and legal frameworks across different countries in the region, companies have increasingly turned to their in-house legal teams for guidance and support. In-house lawyers have become more involved in strategic decision-making processes and have adopted a proactive approach to risk management. The annual Asia’s Top 15 In-House Teams list recognises and honours the achievements of legal departments across Asia that truly exemplify the future of legal departments. These teams demonstrate a willingness to embrace change through technology, behaviour, business models, or service innovation to meet the organisation’s needs.

The legal team at Singapore-based digital asset innovator Cake Group is led by Daniel Lo and comprises three lawyers and seven risk and compliance professionals. Set up in 2022 amid a global crypto crisis, the legal unit spearheaded the launch of two new verticals at Cake Group: Levain, a B2B decentralised finance provider, and Whisk, the company’s investment arm.

The legal team oversaw the company’s reorganisation while ensuring minimal business disruptions, demonstrating a deep understanding of corporate structures in Asia’s highly unregulated and deeply scrutinised cryptocurrency market.

Despite having only two legal counsels, the unit harnessed cutting-edge technology and legaltech tools, including AI-driven platforms like ChatGPT and contract templating programs, to provide effective legal coverage to Cake Group with short turnaround times. The legal unit successfully registered a Cake entity under Lithuanian law and is in talks with Singapore regulators to obtain appropriate business licenses. The 63-member legal team at Indonesia’s largest technology firm GoTo not only provides pragmatic, tech-forward and innovative legal and regulatory support but has also advised and led negotiations on operational and technical aspects of some of GoTo’s biggest projects. This includes GoTo’s collaboration with PayPal subsidiary PPRO and its digital finance initiative with Bank Jago.

Led by general counsel Pablo Malay, the team played a leading role in GoTo’s $1.1 billion initial public offering, the world’s fifth-largest IPO in 2022.

The legal unit plays an important role in protecting GoTo’s innovations through patents, which is crucial to the growth of any tech company. The team also successfully defended the company in a trademark dispute over the term ‘GoTo.’

The team has also implemented legal technology tools to increase efficiency in end-to-end contract management and automate workflow, including the launch of an automated paperwork process for GoTo’s B2B partners to improve contract negotiation.

The legal team at South Korea’s Hanmi Pharmaceuticals is a shining example of compliance management in the closely watched healthcare industry. The 11-member team, led by legal department head Jisun Nam, harnessed legal technology to create a compliance system to keep the company’s multi-national operations in line with Korea’s Serious Accidents Punishment Act, a stringent regime enacted in 2021 that imposes heavy personal and monetary liability for non-compliance.

The unit also runs a dynamic contract standardisation program to ensure efficient transactional review for the company’s various verticals.

The team prides itself on the creation of a “compliance culture,” as risks associated with employees violating stock trading norms have heightened. This includes regular awareness pro-grams and continuous monitoring of critical business functions.

The team also led compliance and regulatory checks for the merger of Hanmi Pharma’s holding company Hanmi Science with group company Hanmi Healthcare.

The five-member legal team at HP India is led by senior director and associate general counsel Rajeev Nair. In 2022, it successfully assisted the company’s business vertical on numerous strategic deals pertaining to hardware procurement and providing services to multiple customers, including PSUs, NBFCs, Banking and private customers.

The Gurgaon and Bengaluru-based team prides itself on its subject-matter expertise, over and above legal capabilities, and continuously evolves to suit dynamic business requirements. Beyond deal assistance, the team has also built models allowing business verticals to function independently of legal for support on work that is of recurring nature. The team’s “four-box model” requires team members to identify support areas and move activities under each support area to four different quadrants of the four-box model which are “Limit, Engage, Leverage and Auto-mate” based on risk and competitive advantage.

HP legal has also embraced technological advancements by adopting AI tools in its day-to-day review of contracts.

The team also regularly organises training and Q&A sessions, including on competition law, services and solutions, contracts, consumer protection and customer support, for its internal stakeholders to help the business stay updated from a compliance and business perspective.

A 40+ member extended legal team successfully faces the challenge of balancing legacy and cutting-edge IT solutions for IBM in Japan, one of the largest markets for the IT giant outside of North America.

General counsel Anthony J. Luna leads the team focused on general legal and intellectual property, corporate security, compliance, security, export regulation and government regulations. The unit supported IBM’s large government consulting deals worth approximately several hundred million dollars in 2022, ensuring effective risk mitigation, including the settlement of two multi-million-dollar transactions. The team also led complex IT project litigation and successfully dealt with an increasing number of client outages in an environment of increased data and cybersecurity regulation.

The team aims to go beyond their general legal roles to provide a “sig-nature client experience” by offering expert advice and support for business outcomes, and also providing thought leadership on various critical business topics.

Japanese energy company Inpex Corporation’s legal team successfully faced new regulatory and legal challenges, supporting the company’s energy transition policy on over 700 matters, including significant acquisitions of wind, geothermal and gas projects in Asia, the Middle East, Europe, Africa and North and South America.

The 17-member team, led by general counsel Hiro Kato, is built on the philosophy of hiring lawyers with significant top-tier private practice experience who can manage complex transactions independently.

The unit’s “One Legal” principle allows it to leverage its in-house network of experienced lawyers to support acquisitions, projects and disputes globally. The team comprises 14 attorneys in Tokyo, 12 in Australia, three in Indonesia and one each in Abu Dhabi, Rio De Janeiro and Oslo. It also plans to grow the legal team to support Inpex’s outposts in Singapore and London. Another unique aspect is the unit’s flexible, non-hierarchical working model, and commitment to maintaining mental health and diversity and inclusion protocols.

The global legal and ethics team (GLET) at Jollibee Foods Corporation comprises eight lawyers and three paralegals in the Philippines. It is led by global general counsel Valerie Feria Amante and serves as the regional legal advisor not only for the Philippines’ business units, but also for offices in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Australia. As the legal support unit for the Philippines’ biggest fast-food opera-tor, GLET was one of the key drivers of Jollibee’s digital transition, as physical stores remained shuttered during the pandemic. This included critical financing, regulatory compliance, availing of government incentives, pivoting to ready-to-cook and ready-to-eat products, and addressing rapidly evolving situations.

GLET also led the legal compliance for Jollibee’s vaccination program in the Philippines, facilitating the administration of thousands of vaccination doses nationwide in cooperation with government regulators.

Apart from assisting on multiple acquisitions, GLET in 2022 oversaw the launch of Jollibee’s integrated Ethics and Compliance Program, a first in the company’s 45-year history.

The legal team at Malaysian power investor Leader Energy Holdings comprises three members, led by legal head Cheang Chee Kong.

In 2022, despite its size, the unit simultaneously managed two concurrent power project transactions in separate jurisdictions – a $118 million acquisition of a transmission project in Cambodia, and a $ 35 million acquisition of a solar project in Vietnam.

The legal team envisages adding lawyers in each jurisdiction where assets are located to enable the team to function like a local law firm.

To increase organisational efficiency, the team also works with local law firms to create standardised agreements for day-to-day business-related matters and more complicated transactions.

Singapore-based real estate investment management company Mapletree Investments has a 10-attor-ney legal team across offices in Singa-pore, Shanghai, Ho Chi Minh City, and Sydney.

Led by group chief corporate officer Wan Kwong Weng, the team guided a series of investments by Mapletree in the Information Technology office space sector in India. The investments are through a joint venture with Ivanhoe India Equities with projects located in Bengaluru, Chennai and Pune.

Global fast-food giant McDonald’s legal team in South Korea, led by general counsel Churl Kim, is setting industry standards on how legal counsel can support their companies in strengthening brand trust, the centrepiece of McDonald’s growth policy especially in the digital age, where internet comments can ruin reputations.

To address false claims online about food quality and people practices, the legal team led the ideation and establishment of an online monitoring system in June 2022.

The tool allows the legal team to survey activity on specified URLs, identify potentially problematic content, assess the associated risks and inform counsel to request temporary removal of the posting for 30 days to the service provider.

The legal unit also pays special attention to keep in mind Korean business traditions while signing contracts in the country, with one of the most vital being stamping of a company seal on a document instead of affixing a signature, a practice that causes significant hassle to clients.

To incorporate this practice without reducing efficiency, the team introduced self-inking seals, which did not need to be dipped on an ink pad every time. After checking with the authorities that these were legally valid, the team quickly replaced the traditional seals and deployed them within the company. The legal team then also digitised the sealing process and introduced the option of e-stamping.

The 10-attorney legal team at new-age finance investment platform Micro Connect had their work cut out in 2022. The company last year set up a new microfinance exchange, Micro Connect Macao Financial Assets (MCEX), in Macau, which aims to connect the 70 million small and medium business owners in China, largely offline stores and retail operators, with global financers.

To this end, the company also created a new asset class, Daily Revenue Contracts (DRCs), which will allow global investors to obtain returns from borrowers’ revenues on a real-time basis, using automated payment technology.

Under the leadership of general counsel and chief operating officer Ling Taotao, the legal unit concluded over 4000 DRCs, ensuring the new product is compliant with existing regulations. The team also led the establishment of MCEX, designing a complex and unprecedented legal structure for global investors to gain access to Chinese shop owners.

The unit also collaborated with the technology team to create an internal legal intelligence platform, which tailor-makes agreements based on inputs and previous documents and clarifies legal issues during negotiation.

The legal and secretarial office (LSO) at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, is a proactive legal team coming up with innovative solutions to ensure university policy implementation and redressal of student concerns. The team comprises 18 lawyers and three non-lawyers and is led by general counsel and chief legal officer Gregory Chew.

LSO manages the whistleblowing channel for the University community of 35,000 students and 8,000 employ-ees. LSO’s responsiveness resulted in the whistleblowing channel becoming the trusted first port of call for all complaints University-wide, pandemic-related or otherwise.

To reduce NTU’s risk of data breaches and unauthorised data disclosures, LSO partnered with the Centre for IT Services to formulate the Data Governance Policy, the first all-encompass-ing University-wide policy which covers all University data and holds the community accountable for data handling and protection.

With LSO’s subject matter expertise in ethics compliance, data governance and privacy, LSO played a major role in drafting the terms of reference for the inception of NTU Committee for the Governance of AI for Learning Analytics, which aims to harness AI to improve learning and data collection.

For lawyers working at Standard Chartered Bank, the buzzword for 2022 was “sustainability.” The legal department is based in Singapore and Hong Kong and divided into two groups – a four-member central sustainability legal team and a larger 80-lawyer sustainability legal working group (SLWG).

The legal team is co-headed by Andrew Dixon Smith and Benjamin Goss, who are both based out of Singapore. In the last year, the team has designed legal support solutions to increase operational efficiency in all sustainable finance transactions at the bank. This includes an annually updated “sustainability legal work plan” and a playbook on sustainable finance deals for legal and business teams.

The larger SLWG shares relevant information and meets bi-weekly to discuss sustainability issues and hear from regional and product lawyers on sustainability issues affecting their teams. The team also developed a suite of legal documents flexible enough to use in 59 countries to support Standard Chartered’s $1 billion commitment to finance companies helping tackle COVID-19.

The legal team at Hong Kong-based alternative investment company Sun Hung Kai & Co (SHK) used dynamic and pragmatic contract drafting principles during negotiations to help SHK close several transactions in 2022.

The three-lawyer team led by group head of legal and compliance Phoebe Yuen negotiated for critical contractual protection clauses in various commercial agreements to ensure the best possible outcomes for the company. This includes the disposal of SHK’s stake in the now-bankrupt crypto-exchange FTX. The legal team pushed the business vertical to push the transaction before the kicking in of a ‘right of first refusal’ clause, allowing the company to dispose of all its interest in FTX before it collapsed. The team also led regulatory and compliance in the closely watched AI and data space to help SHK become the first service provider to offer potential customers AI online property valuation services.

The team also has leveraged new technology, including AI-powered document review tools, to increase accuracy and efficiency in contract review. Chinese tech giant Tencent Holdings International Privacy and Data Protection Centre (IPDP) supports Tencent in providing exciting new products and services to a global audience while navigating the constantly evolving privacy regulatory landscape worldwide and the emergence of new technologies.

The IPDP, set up in 2020, comprises 17 members in Hong Kong and Singapore and is led by attorney Timothy Ma. It is responsible for designing and implementing Tencent’s privacy program.




Cake Group
(formerly Cake DeFi)


Multiple Jurisdictions

Hanmi Pharmaceutical
South Korea

HP India

IBM Japan

Inpex Corporation

Jollibee Foods Corporation

Leader Energy Holding

Mapletree Investments

McDonald’s Korea
South Korea

Micro Connect Group
Hong Kong

Nanyang Technological University

Standard Chartered Bank
Hong Kong, Singapore

Sun Hung Kai & Co
Hong Kong

Hong Kong, Singapore









Hong Kong





















South Korea








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