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In February, UK-headquartered Taylor Vinters announced it was combining with Singapore boutique Via Law through a one-of-a-kind cross-ownership structure. Matt Meyer, CEO of Taylor Vinters, talked to ALB about why the firm chose that route and what the future holds for Taylor Vinters Via.


You have described the Taylor Vinters Via merger as a “novel cross-ownership structure.” Can you talk a bit more about this and explain why you thought that approach was the best option?

Our objective in building the Taylor Vinters business in Asia has always been to do so in a truly integrated way. Integration needs to occur at an operational, financial and cultural level, but these are functional goals.

To build a successful business in Asia operating within the framework mandated by the regulators, we needed a shared vision and ‎a strong commercial alignment. Nothing achieves that more in our view than a co-ownership structure whereby the success of each entity contributes to the success of the other.

In this case, Taylor Vinters becomes a shareholder in Via, and Via becomes a corporate partner in Taylor Vinters. This removes the barriers to sharing clients, ideas and personnel and is the next best thing to a full merger. We think this focus on alignment and shared risk and reward is novel and authentic when stacked up against other franchise, joint venture and captive local firm models we see in the market.


Can you talk us through how the merger happened, including any obstacles that needed to be overcome?

Like any commercial endeavour, the likelihood of success is increased when you find energetic and talented people who share your views of the world. ‎We spent well over 12 months looking for that shared vision and a strong cultural alignment. We are a different kind of firm, embracing innovation and very much on the front foot in a dynamic legal services market.

In Singapore, we know some excellent firms and individuals who we trust and respect but they are not approaching the legal services market like we are. When we met Bryan Ghows and Yingyu Wang at Via, we knew they were both people we could work with and had a business that could contribute to ours and benefit from the progress we had already made in our own strategic journey.

The greatest challenge was recognising that to truly make the venture work, we should surrender our Foreign Law Practice and transfer our existing business to Via. That step represents our collective commitment to making this work and building a successful vibrant Singapore law firm as well as a stronger Taylor Vinters in Europe and the U.S. We have now received approval to call the combined business Taylor Vinters Via and believe that is a true representation of the business we are creating.


Would you say demand is growing in Singapore for services from tech law firms? What is driving it?

We have a strong belief that the Singapore market needs a focused firm committed at its core to supporting innovative and entrepreneurial business and people. Whether it's IP advice, funding, technology or M&A work, businesses that are innovative and [push the] envelope need support from equally entrepreneurial advisers.

There are other good firms with the right experience but ultimately, we think the best clients will choose a firm that isn't institutional in character. Rather, they will look for firms that innovate themselves and empathetically understand risk.

Our role is to advise and support entrepreneurial business in taking risks, to not straitjacket their commercial initiatives. We want to be the go-to firm in that space. Many fast-growth innovation businesses are evaluating Singapore’s suitability ‎as their platform for Asia. We are also seeing increasing numbers of local entrepreneurial ventures with strong money and investment flow between Singapore and key financial centres of the world. All of this activity underlines the need for firms like Taylor Vinters Via in the Singaporean entrepreneurial and technology ecosystem.


At the same time, the space is becoming increasingly competitive with a number of players emerging. What would you say sets you apart?

Our core business involves innovative and entrepreneurial business and people who operate globally. We don't simply roll up our sleeves for a transaction from time to time. We offer a holistic approach. Everything we do is designed to help these ‎types of clients manage risk, make informed decisions, and create and leverage valuable networks.


What do the next couple of years look like for Taylor Vinters Via in Singapore as well as in the entire region?

We have a roadmap which sees us building our local capability in Singapore, particularly in the IP, funding and commercial transactions spaces. We have enough opportunity to support investment and growth in these areas. 

Most importantly, we need to create the integration which will ensure the Singapore team at Taylor Vinters Via becomes a key part of the advisory team for our wider client base in Europe and the U.S. ‎This is how we will build a successful Singapore law firm in the space where we operate.

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