Anglo-Australian law firm Herbert Smith Freehills will shut its Malaysian office at the end of April 2024, the firm has announced.
Its exit from Malaysia means HSF will have closed two Asian offices in the span of about one year, having shut its Korea outpost earlier this year.
The U.K-headquartered firm had set up its Kuala Lumpur office after receiving its qualified foreign law firm (QFLF) licence from Bar Council Malaysia in 2017, joining Trowers & Hamlins as the only other international law firm to have received the license.
"We remain committed to our successful and longstanding relationships with Malaysian clients but also recognise that their needs have changed dramatically since we opened in Kuala Lumpur in 2017," Asia managing partner Graeme Preston said in a statement.
"Those needs are now more regularly met from our other seven offices in Southeast Asia, China and Japan, our three local law alliances, and the rest of our international network,” Preston added.
The firm lists three partners and 12 associates, along with other business professionals, in its Kuala Lumpur office. It is unclear at this point as to where the lawyers and other staff are going, or whether they will be relocating to other offices across Asia.
"We thank all of our people in Kuala Lumpur for their contribution to the firm, and will fully support them as closure plans progress," Preston said.
Their team includes partner Craig Shepherd, who joined the firm last year to create a “construction and infrastructure disputes hub” in Kuala Lumpur.
The firm’s clients in Malaysia included Axiata Group, the country’s largest electricity company, Tenaga Nasional, Malaysia’s Employee Provident Fund, Permodalan Nasional. Lendlease Corporation and Yinson Renewables.
"We remain committed to our clients in Malaysia, as an important part of our plans for Asia to contribute 20% of firm revenue by 2027, and will continue to support them with international legal expertise and insight,” Preston said.
UK-based Trowers remains the only known international law firm with an office in Malaysia, and the firm has also applied to open an office in Singapore.