Asia Business Law Journal reveals the country’s leading private practice lawyers. Putro Harnowo reports
Following the pandemic’s heavy blow, Indonesia is making a comeback with supportive fiscal stimulus and a recovery based on domestic demand and businesses that can adapt better and quicker. However, the complicated nature of the nation’s laws and regulatory system requires business now, more than ever, to have professional advice in order to grow and scale up.
The prospects for Indonesia’s increased economic activity are bolstered by the country’s tech startups. The nation is home to a “decacorn” (a startup company with a current valuation of more than US$10 billion), six unicorns, and 20% of all fintech companies in Southeast Asia, making its ecosystem one of the most competitive and dynamic in the region.
When the pandemic wreaked havoc, the country’s digital economy expanded by 11% to US$44 billion in 2020 from US$40 billion the previous year, according to the latest e-conomy SEA report on digital economies of Southeast Asia compiled by Google, Temasek and Bain & Company.
Last year, the country’s GDP contracted by 1.5%, the first negative since the 1997 Asian financial crisis. The Indonesian government has set aside US$48.2 billion for economic stimulus programmes this year and aims for an optimistic growth rate of 5%, however the Asian Development Bank sets a lower expectation, at 4.5%, with the International Monetary Fund forecasting 4.3% growth.
To attract foreign investment, the government passed the Omnibus Law, in October 2020, to revise more than 70 existing laws and regulations, simplify business permits and land acquisition processes, and ease foreign ownership requirements. However, the new law has triggered a series of protests nationwide from students, trade unions and environmental groups.
Against this challenging backdrop, Asia Business Law Journal presents its A-List of the top 100 lawyers practising in Indonesia (see the list of all 100 lawyers and the key practice areas for which they are endorsed following this article). The A-List is based on extensive research conducted and nominations received from in-house counsel in Indonesia and elsewhere, and Indonesia-focused partners at international law firms.
Nearly all of the A-List lawyers are located in the country’s capital, Jakarta. This reflects the premium on lawyers who are well placed to have their ear to the ground during this crucial recovery concerning developments among the financial and sector-specific regulators, and within the corridors of power in government.
To understand these lawyers’ clients, and their views on what it takes to be a first-class lawyer in Indonesia, we sought answers from many professionals, experienced in-house counsel and corporate legal managers. From these recommendations, it is possible to extract a portrait of exceptional Indonesian lawyers that make up this elite group.
Comments submitted to Asia Business Law Journal by clients suggest that they not only look for lawyers who are highly experienced in their field, and responsive in providing services, but who are also able to meet clients’ needs and reliably guide their projects forward in these uncertain times.
As a major emerging market, and the largest economy in Southeast Asia, Indonesia’s prospects are deserving of investor attention. However, navigating the country’s regulatory framework is not a simple matter, and many A-List lawyers are commended for their remarkable advisories in this regard.
Herry Kurniawan, partner at ABNR, receives praise from clients and peers, among them Tham Wai Kong, general counsel of Jurong Port in Singapore, who describes Kurniawan as “a commercially minded lawyer with clear and concise legal advice rendered in a business-friendly manner. It was a good experience and pleasure to work with him.”
Wang Zi, a partner at Guantao Law Firm in Beijing, worked with Kurniawan on an energy project for a Chinese company. “I am impressed by his professionalism and his willingness to accommodate the client,” says Wang.
“He is an expert in project financing, and the first person I would recommend if any Chinese company needs Indonesian legal advice in this field.”
The same view is expressed by Akira Nagasaki, a partner at City-Yuwa Partners in Tokyo. “Herry has assisted my firm in various transactions in Indonesia, and has always provided us with quick and concise advice to manoeuvre through complex Indonesian law issues,” says Nagasaki.
Kurniawan’s colleague, partner Freddy Karyadi, also receives praise from Joanna Teng, director of Camford Law Corporation in Singapore, for his deep industry knowledge and experience. “Freddy strives to provide clients with value-added benefits, which help them develop and manage their legal knowledge,” says Teng. “Particularly, he understands clients needs, and this understanding allows him always to put their business objectives first. More importantly, he is accessible and responsive at all times.”
Another ABNR lawyer, senior partner Emir Nurmansyah, receives a commendation from Du Jiaying, an associate at Zhejiang Zeda Law Firm in Hangzhou, the capital of China’s Zhejiang province. “Emir is very dedicated to his work and helps our clients to control the legal risks under Indonesia law” says Du.
In Hong Kong, the acquisition and development manager of hotel operator Ovolo Group, Kim Kyu Baek, nominates Denny Rahmansyah, managing partner at SSEK, for his assistance on a hotel transaction in Bali. “Denny and his team were great in leading the charge towards sale and purchase agreement negotiations, and closing the deal,” says Kim. “Very commercially minded and quick turnarounds.”
Michael Wong, chief financial officer at an upstream palm oil planter, TSH Resources in Kuala Lumpur, says Rahmansyah is “knowledgeable, responsive and communicates well”.
Iqbal Hadromi, the founding partner of Hadromi & Partners, is applauded by Kenneth Howden, director of international finance at international offshore drilling contractor Vantage Drilling in Dubai, for his assistance in setting up an entity in Indonesia. “As new operations have commenced, we have received the required advice on how we can operate, with assistance in registering with all of the authorities and setting up new bank accounts,” says Howden.
“With our management spread out throughout the world, it is important for us to be able to rely on our professional advisers in our local operating locations, and we have had excellent service from Iqbal Hadromi in this regard.”
Vincent Chong, legal director at Reckitt Benckiser in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia, is all praise for Rio Lassatrio, co-founder and partner at LHBM Counsel. “Rio is a competent lawyer who tells you, straight off, the cans and cannots under Indonesian laws and regulations – very practical in his advice.”
Andreas Hartono, a senior partner at Andreas Sheila & Partners, says Takuya Kasai, senior director at Japanese fund manager IDI Infrastructures in Tokyo, is “very detailed and always provides a high level of the services”.
In India, Abhaya Chatterjee, managing partner of boutique financial consulting practice Arrow Strategies in Bhopal City, recommends Johannes Sahetapy-Engel, co-founder and partner at Akset Law, for being “knowledgable, excellent, action-oriented, always reachable, and having good connections with other international law firms”.
Indonesia’s economy is largely driven by local activity, rather than exports, which has helped to cushion it from global crises. However, its legal framework is not always up to date with the needs of a young population that has been the key driver to consumer market growth, forcing businesses to innovate and explore uncharted territory. Some lawyers are excelling at enabling clients who fit with this new innovative culture.
Ivan Ferdiansyah Baely, a partner at IABF, is one of the best choices for dealing with state entities, according to Wiweko Probojakti, chief financial officer at the government-owned enterprise Angkasa Pura II in Jakarta. “The company has been engaging in a professional relationship with IABF since May 2020,” says Probojakti. “We are pleased with the deliverables, and the result was excellent, timely and in good quality.”
Sri Bimo Bangunagoro, legal manager at the Indonesia Stock Exchange in Jakarta, says Baely “is well versed in capital markets laws, and has been involved in many capital market-related transactions involving the stock exchange, including information and technology matters”.
“His law firm is widely known as a leading firm in the capital markets and information technology sectors, and hence it has sufficient resources to assist us in several projects,” says Bangunagoro.
Prasetiyo, who goes by one name and is legal division head at real estate company Tokyu Land Indonesia in Jakarta, describes Eddy Marek Leks, managing partner at Leks & Co, as “a distinguished lawyer for the real estate and property industry. His knowledge and experience in Indonesian real estate law are outstanding.”
Antonius Taroreh, legal co-ordinator at real estate company Ciputra Property in Jakarta, adds that Leks “is full of integrity, has qualified knowledge especially in the law of property and land, and always works according to the goals set, and on time”.
Mohamad Kadri, senior partner at Guido Hidayanto & Partners, is applauded by Abdillah Saputra Tadjoedin, senior lead of compliance at e-commerce company Tokopedia in Jakarta. “Kadri has extensive professional experience and is a widely recognised expert in banking and finance, as well as capital markets,” he says.
Rudy Kamdani, legal and compliance director at AXA Mandiri Financial Services in Jakarta, agrees. “Kadri is very knowledgable and a very business-oriented person.”
Lanang Kusuma, country legal counsel at online marketplace OLX in Jakarta, describes Soenardi Pardi, a partner at Hendra Soenardi, as “a lawyer who always thinks out of the box to find innovative solutions to our legal and business issues or needs”.
Pardi is also acknowledged by Yance Rahadian, senior counsel at Adaro Energy in Jakarta. “His expertise, knowledge and experience contribute to very sharp-witted legal advice for the company and client to move forward with confidence.”
Kusuma, at OLX, also praises Pardi’s colleague, partner Oscar Damarjati. “I regard Oscar as a highly skilled lawyer, with high-precision drafting and negotiation skills,” he says.
Andi Kadir, senor partner at HHP, is nominated by Bobby Noer Rahman, general counsel at real estate developer CFLD Indonesia in Jakarta, for being “one of a few Indonesian lawyers who can talk loudly in a room full of foreign lawyers, and not only deserve a clap but a standing ovation for his strong knowledge and high negotiation skills.”
Rizki Indra Kusuma, managing director of legal at investment holding company Rajawali Corpora in Jakarta, praises Kadir’s colleague, partner Iqbal Dermawan: “Iqbal is a very good capital markets and M&A lawyer, always thinking, and provides the best for clients, works harder than any other lawyer.”
Rinaldi, who goes by one name, is head of enterprise risk and control at Citibank Indonesia in Jakarta and has this to say about UMBRA managing partner Pramudya Octavinanda: “Although still very young, Pramudya founded and led an army of young and talented lawyers from scratch with a fast turnaround.
“UMBRA has received many prominent awards in Indonesia and the Asia-Pacific. Pramudya is one of the country’s experts in M&A.”
Luky Walalangi, managing partner at Walalangi and Partners, is “highly competent, with strong experience in a wide range of industries,” observes Kezia Pembayun, legal director at L’Oreal Indonesia in Jakarta. “He is able to provide pragmatic advice.”
Sugianto Osman, a partner at Ginting & Reksodiputro, is recommended by Perdana Saputro, vice president of legal at online marketplace Bukalapak in Jakarta, for “strong skills in M&A and handling of many private equity firms. He is also relevant in tech industries and has handled many tech companies in Indonesia.”
Ivan Setiady, legal director at real estate developer Risland Group in Jakarta, applauds Suhardi Somomoeljono & Associates’ partner, Dianyndra Kusuma Hardy, who is “smart, detail-oriented and well experienced in the commercial litigation sector.”
Women of excellence
It is quite common to see women lawyers taking the lead of business in Indonesia, and the situation is not exceptional in law firms. Many prominent women lawyers have established their own practices, or have climbed the ladder to lead firms.
Zippora Siregar, a managing partner at Siregar & Djojonegoro, has made a name for herself and the firm with her expertise in assisting complex transactions. Bukalapak’s Perdana Saputro praises her for her “solid and long track record of experience in handling legal work, particularly in the banking finance area. Her approach is accurate, and she can balance transacting parties’ interests, making the deals run smooth.”
Ervin Pakpahan, senior counsel and head of external affairs at tobacco company HM Sampoerna in Jakarta, says: “Zippora is a seasoned and passionate lawyer with in-depth knowledge, vast experience in multiple areas of the law and business acumen, enabling her to see the commercial side of assignments at hand.”
Angela Maryska, department head at corporate secretary and group general counsel at Indonesian conglomerate Astra International in Jakarta, recommends Mita Djajadiredja, senior partner at HHP. “Mita has extensive knowledge based on her broad and long experience,” says Maryska. “She is very approachable, responsive and reliable. In providing advice, she is able to combine legal-based attention with sensible commercial considerations.”
Kirana Diah Sastrawijaya, a senior partner at UMBRA, is “the country expert in renewable energy law,” says Citibank’s Rinaldi. “She facilitates various discussions between business leaders, and also with the government of Indonesia, and provides legal solutions.”
A good portion of the A-List is filled by Indonesia’s leading women lawyers, including: Melli Darsa, founder and senior partner at Melli Darsa & Co; Ira Eddymurthy, founding partner at SSEK; Irawati Hermawan, managing partner at Hermawan Juniarto; Rahayu Ningsih Hoed, senior partner at Makarim & Taira S; Prudence Jahja, managing partner at Januar Jahja & Partners; and Jennifer Tumbuan, managing partner at Tumbuan & Partners.
Compiling the A-List
The A-List is based on extensive research conducted by Asia Business Law Journal. To identify the top 100 lawyers in Indonesia, we turned to thousands of in-house counsel in Indonesia and around the world – as well as partners at international law firms – and asked them to tell us which lawyers should make the cut, and why. Nominations were made by professionals at a wide range of Indonesian and global companies, financial institutions and law firms, including Adaro Energy, AirAsia, Angkasa Pura, ANZ Bank, Gojek, Ashland India, Astra International, ASUS, AXA Mandiri, Bae Kim & Lee, Bank CIMB Niaga, Bank IBK, Bank Mandiri, BFI Finance, Blue Bird, Bukalapak.com, Citibank, City-Yuwa Partners, Dentsu, Drew & Napier, IDI Infrastructures, Indonesia Stock Exchange, JLL, Jones Day, Kendall Court, King & Wood Mallesons, KPMG, LEGO Singapore, LG International, L’Oreal, Marubeni Corporation, Mattel, Mayer Brown, Medco Power, Mitsubishi, Mori Hamada & Matsumoto, Nishimura & Asahi, OLX, Ovolo Group, Reckitt Benckiser, Shanghai Electric, Shell, Shimizu Corporation, Tempo Scan Group, Tokopedia, WongPartnership and many more. Thorough editorial research followed the nomination process.
The final list reflects the nominations received combined with the Asia Business Law Journal editorial team’s extensive experience in documenting and analysing the legal market in Asia. All Indonesian private-practice lawyers and foreign lawyers based in the country were automatically eligible for inclusion in the nominations process, and, as always, there were no fees or any other requirements for entry.
The names and photographs of all 100 A-List lawyers are published here. In addition, each A-List lawyer was given the opportunity to include their biography and contact details, for which a publishing fee was charged.
It is important to note that while the compilation of the A-List was based solely on independent editorial research, the biographies and contact details that appear alongside many of the listings have been written by the participating lawyers, and the content has not been independently verified by Asia Business Law Journal.