Do look up

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And don’t get caught out

2021 has been a year of breakthroughs and heartbreak. While we had the highs of the successful launch of vaccines, we also saw the lows of more covid variants leading to a dramatic rise in cases and fatalities.

However, the success of the vaccines has been a testament to human ingenuity, our ability to rise together when it matters.

While the pandemic may be only a few shots away from disappearing, there are more longer-term challenges. Climate change is one. Its impact on our lives is likely to be more abiding and it’s time we come together and fight back.

ABLJ 211112 leader
Nov.-Dec. 2021
Asia Business Law Journal

And our cover story this issue, Earth v Law, explores the imminent need for us to act on global warming, and asks what role lawyers should be playing to avert a climate catastrophe. Many argue that lawyers also have a vital role in protecting our planet, and that failure to do so will have dire consequences.

Addressing the American Bar Association, the US special presidential envoy for climate, John Kerry, made the role of a lawyer clear when he said: “You are all climate lawyers now, whether you want to be or not.”

Law firms are already alive to the need for environmental law and sustainability expertise, and several have taken steps to broaden their advisory offerings.

For our In Focus article, we zoomed in on one of the year’s hottest topics – cryptocurrencies, focusing on the regulatory and legal issues in Indonesia, including a religious edict that forbids their use.

This is the year that cryptos finally went mainstream, and most countries are figuring out how to respond to them. While El Salvador embraced them, making bitcoins legal tender, China banned them outright. However, most countries are taking a middle path, and so has Indonesia.

Despite the uncertainty, crypto trading has been booming throughout Indonesia, with daily transactions in July 2021 reaching IDR2.3 trillion (USD161.7 million) and the number of crypto investors surpassing investors in the stock exchange. But a recent fatwa by the Indonesian Ulema Council, a body of clerics, ruled that cryptocurrency is forbidden due to its uncertainty and potential harm. Our report, Forbidden not forgotten, explains the current regulatory environment and explores what the future holds.

Following our survey of Asian in-house counsel in our last issue, we went to law firms around the region to find out how the year has been for them and what they anticipate in 2022. The second edition of our annual Asia Business Law Survey 2021, found out that this year was not so bad after all. About 74% of law firms surveyed saw a revenue increase, while 15% reported a steady income compared with 2020.

The market seems vibrant, and more than half the law firms in the survey (56%) reported growing their teams, while 40% said team sizes remained roughly the same year-on-year. However, 64% of law firms in the survey kept their billing rates the same, while 30% increased their rates compared to last year.

In One step ahead, we invite law firm marketing expert Barbara Koenen-Geerdink to give business development strategies for legal professionals. Law schools don’t teach you how to become a commercially savvy lawyer, but it is a crucial skill for building a sustainable practice. While marketing teams can help with this, she writes that lawyers must learn some essential skills.

Our Head to Head sections on carbon neutrality and capital markets give valuable insights into the latest developments in both areas, and in some of the most significant jurisdictions in the region including Japan, China, India, Indonesia and Hong Kong.

The Legal Frontiers section brings together some of the biggest offshore law firms offering in-depth pieces on regulatory developments in the Cayman Islands. We also have features on fintech in India, and NFTs in Korea.

Our year-end issue also has one of our most popular annual features – the Philippines Law Firm Awards, which recognises the best firms in the country. We also bring you our Vietnam A-list, ranking the top 100 lawyers in the country. You should also check out our first Bangladesh A-list, available exclusively on our website.

And make sure not to miss our Law Firm Directories for Law Firm directories for Indonesia and Thailand.

Here’s wishing you a prosperous 2022 from all of us at Asia Business Law Journal.

Best wishes,

Mithun Varkey
Editor, Asia Business Law Journal
Managing Editor, Law.asia