Indian law firm Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas (CAM) opened a representative office in Singapore on 12 February, the first overseas office for the law firm.
“The case for Singapore is kind of obvious,” Cyril Shroff, managing partner at CAM, told Asia Business Law Journal. “It’s been on our mind for a very long time because of the strategic importance of Singapore to the Indian market, and also broadly for the global legal community, because a lot of global firms are now running their India practice at least partly out of Singapore,” said Shroff.
“So, it’s become an extremely key centre for global law firm relationships, as well as for a large number of our financial sector clients, apart from corporates and others.”
CAM’s representative office will do only promotional work for now, but the law firm has applied to the Singapore Legal Services Regulatory Authority for a foreign legal practice (FLP) licence.
“But for the pandemic and the travel restrictions, we would have gone for a proper branch right from the beginning,” said Shroff. “But at this stage, people are not allowed to sort of go across or come in. So, we therefore took the first step of putting our toe in the water with a representative office. And in the course of the year, we will upgrade to a foreign legal practice or a branch.”
On the firm’s Singapore strategy, Shroff said: “I think there are three parts to it. One is for deepening our existing Singapore relationships, and we have quite a few because of a long history with Singapore. The second is to help our Indian clients who may have Singapore needs, which could be on commercial work as well as dispute work. And the third is regional, because, for example, a lot of Japanese clients also use Singapore as a sort of helping stop before they come to India.”
CAM has put together a team of three in Singapore, including one partner. Shroff said, “We are sort of sourcing mainly from our Singapore-based alumni,” said Shroff.
“Priorities [for the Singapore office] are going to be disputes, particularly arbitration and fintech because Singapore is a big fintech hub, and cross-border insolvency. And we also think that [the office is] going to be very relevant for our private client and wealth management practice.”