Following an extensive nomination process, Asia Business Law Journal unveils its top performers of the country’s legal profession. Lim Miran and Nguyen Yen report

After experiencing its first economic contraction in two decades, Indonesia’s strong rebound was interrupted by the spreading delta variant of covid-19 in 2021. Yet beating the odds, the economy survived renewed turmoil thanks to economic reforms and substantial fiscal support. While the transformative investment climate reforms bode well for investment and employment, more businesses rely on legal professionals to navigate the ever-changing business landscape.

Indonesia’s economy grew by 3.7% in 2021 from the preceding year, mainly driven by ongoing global economic recovery coupled with growing domestic demand for consumption and investment. The World Bank forecasts Indonesia’s economy to accelerate to 5.2% in 2022, supported by faster vaccination rollout, policy stimuli and reopening of economic sectors.

Despite an optimistic outlook and on-track recovery, the Asia Development Bank’s March report titled “Southeast Asia Rising from the Pandemic” highlighted rising inflation among top challenges for Southeast Asia’s largest economy, undermining household purchasing power in coming years. Other challenges lie in uncertainty about the still-evolving pandemic, rising unemployment, and global political instability casting a shadow of lasting social and economic scars on the tourism-dependent economy.

To sustain economic momentum and strengthen resilience, the government has introduced a wide range of regulatory updates in several key sectors including manpower, banking and tax. This is in line with enactment of the new Positive Investment List relaxing Indonesia’s foreign investment rules to stimulate and liberalise its investment environment.

More significant changes in Indonesia’s legal landscape are expected in 2022 – notably over personal data protection, net-zero emissions and discussion advancing Indonesia’s State-owned Enterprises Bill. It is imperative for both domestic and international businesses to seek legal assistance when understanding the country’s evolving business environment.

Against this backdrop, Asia Business Law Journal presents its A-List of top 100 lawyers practising in Indonesia (a list and key practice areas for which they are endorsed follows). The list is based on extensive research – along with nominations from in-house counsel in Indonesia and elsewhere, and Indonesia-focused partners at international law firms based outside the jurisdiction.

Comments submitted to Asia Business Law Journal suggest that businesses appreciate lawyers who are open-minded to new business models while being proactive in all legal aspects when providing practical advice.

Nearly all of the A-List lawyers are located in Jakarta, the country’s capital and home to sizable government offices and businesses. The city is well placed for lawyers to build up networks and keep up with regulatory changes in various sectors.

Capital advisers

In recent years, Indonesia’s burgeoning investment ecosystem has witnessed an unprecedented surge in M&A and IPO activity in leading sectors, especially in the financial service industry, consumer goods, and information and communication technology. Many renowned lawyers on the A-List are nominated for their expertise in such transactions.

Hendrik Silalahi, managing partner at William & Hendrik, is one of them. He is recommended by Mary Cheung, CEO at local Jakarta fintech firm Pintar Inovasi Digital, for his years of experience in advising on complex corporate transactions.

“He definitely has excellent and notable professionalism and credibility in the capital market and M&A fields,” says Cheung. “He has made persistent efforts in helping and improving my company with the best and most suitable legal solutions in past years. Hendrik and his team never stop challenging themselves in providing better services to clients.”

Rama Gautama, partner and CEO at investment company Goldfive Investment Capital in Jakarta, recommends Silalahi as “a top lawyer in several areas of practice, especially with IPOs and the capital markets”.

“When we needed top-level advice on regulatory issues regarding capital market transactions for our client, we contacted Hendrik and his law firm because of his experience and reputation, and his team’s wide areas of expertise,” says Gautama.

Herbayu Yambo, vice president of litigation and special projects at insurance company Zurich Asuransi Indonesia in Jakarta, nominates ABNR partner Ayik Candrawulan Gunadi for his ability to manage complicated M&A projects, and provide detailed legal advice and several alternative solutions to legal issues.

“He also understands clients’ objectives and can give practical solutions,” says Yambo. “He always provides legal services with detailed legal advice and several alternative solutions to the client’s legal problems.”

Gunadi is also recommended by Dan Cho, vice president, legal at major food and agri-business company Olam International in Singapore. “Ayik has been a reliable, intelligent and resourceful adviser for many years”, says Zaki. “Even as I have moved industries, Ayik is my go-to counsel in Indonesia. It’s a pleasure working with him and his team.”

Pieter de Ridder, managing partner of Mayer Brown’s Singapore office, describes Gunadi’s colleague, ABNR senior foreign counsel Theodoor Bakker, as a lawyer with “excellent knowledge and experience in Indonesian corporate law”.

Another client, Jackie Williams, operations director, compliance at London Stock Exchange Group, compliments Bakker for his agility. “Theodoor is new to our business segment, but he has got to grips very quickly with our services, the complexity of our business and the offering we are working on in Indonesia,” says Williams. “He is very professional, readily available to discuss issues and works to troubleshoot.”

Well-tailored service

There is a persistent need to keep businesses up to date with Indonesia’s regulatory changes and clients praise the top-notch lawyers for their exceptional service in these matters.

 

Hertyaning Vikadelina, legal head at global healthcare company GSK in Jakarta, recommends Ira Eddymurthy, founding partner of SSEK Legal Consultants. “She is very informative and resourceful in providing best practices, as well as the implementation of laws and regulations in practice,” says Vikadelina. “This is very helpful for clients to understand legal issues holistically, enabling them to make sound and informed decisions.”

Eddymurthy is also highly regarded as “a role model” by Daniel Kim, director and project manager, global workplace solutions Asia-Pacific, at global real estate services and investment firm CBRE in Singapore.

“Ira is a superstar lawyer who has not lost sight of client relationships and the technical aspects of the law,” says Kim. “She has built a team of extremely high-performing lawyers, from one end of the bench to the other, who are notably responsive, thoughtful and clear in communications.”

Hary Herdiyanto, CEO of corporate finance and consulting firm SF Capital in Jakarta, describes Eddymurthy as a “smart, firm, yet open-minded lawyer with strong international exposure, and experienced in handling a top-notch deal.”

Eddymurthy’s colleague, SSEK partner Denny Rahmansyah, is praised for his ability to “cut through to the crux of issues and provide remarkable solutions” by Karl Mohan, general manager Asia-Pacific at cryptocurrency exchange platform Crypto.com in Melbourne.

“What I have enjoyed most in working with Denny is that he is able to synthesise his views and answers so that non-legal folk like myself can clearly see the outcomes,” says Mohan. “He is aligned in working with fast-moving customers like us, who are pushing not only the boundaries but also have a need to work fast and efficiently. He has always put Indonesia’s legal structures in the forefront, including working progressively with regulators to educate them on a new industry such as fintech.”

Kary Tang, general counsel for Singapore-based trade centre developer Samanea Group agrees. “Denny Rahmansyah is very professional and responsive with extensive experience, particularly in the real estate area,” says Tang. “He is also able to provide practical advice based on our commercial needs.”

All-rounders

Indonesia is known for its complex legal mechanism – where rules can be unpredictable and often implemented at short notice. Legal professionals who can combine their diverse knowledge in various fields and become all-around experts are highly sought after.

Angela Maryska, legal head at Jakarta-based corporate venture capital firm Sinar Mas Digital Ventures, admires Soenardi Pardi, partner and head of litigation practice at Hendra Soenardi.

“He’s a great all-rounder who has extensive international experience in corporate and dispute settlement, being appointed as Indonesian counsel and expert witness in several international dispute resolution cases,” says Maryska. “Despite his seniority, he always provides personalised service and attention to his clients’ needs”.

Pardi is also recommended by Mohammad Prianto Madelar, director and legal counsellor for litigation at Jakarta-based investment holding company Rajawali Corpora. “He always had a reasonable and workable solution, although sometimes it took him a while to find such a solution,” says Madelar.

Maryska, of Sinar Mas Digital Venture, also extends her compliments to Pardi’s colleague, Hendra Soenardi partner Oscar Damarjati, for his ability in providing practical solutions to suit clients’ business needs. “He is able to negotiate comfortably and on point, comparable with other lawyers who are more senior than him,” says Maryska.

After working together on their Series-B Investment round, Bambang Susilo, chief financial officer and head of people development at digital signature service provider PrivyID in Jakarta, was impressed by Damarjati’s work quality.

“He has provided us with a deep understanding of our needs, not only for the current transaction impact but also for potential future circumstances that we need to be aware of from early on,” says Susilo. “He delivered a good quality of work and in a timely manner. He and his team have made significant roles and contributions during our investment round.”

Frida Chalid, legal and regulatory affairs director at dairy-based nutrition company Frisian Flag Indonesia in Jakarta, has this to say about Vincent Ariesta Lie, partner at Makarim & Taira S: “Vincent has in-depth knowledge of corporate, commercial laws and has a good understanding of clients’ business. He has fluency in translating the law into common language for business people.”

 

Kresna Panggabean, managing partner at TNB & Partners, is another prominent lawyer specialising in M&A, compliance strategies and general corporate affairs. He is recommended by Adrian Dwitomo, general manager director at global logistics company Speedmark Transportation Indonesia in Jakarta.

“Kresna is an experienced corporate lawyer and has advised our company with regard to compliance and complex transactional matters in Indonesia and also cross-border,” says Dwitomo.

With two decades of experience, Luky Walalangi, managing partner at Walalangi & Partners, stands out as a long-standing adviser in foreign investment. He is recommended by Yuya Kodera, deputy head of legal at Mitsubishi Corporation in Tokyo.

“He is able to understand the true needs of clients and provide accurate advice,” says Kodera. “He is also very polite and responsive.”

Ignatius Tirto Judokusumo, vice president of corporate finance at logistics company Sicepat Ekspress in Jakarta, nominates Erwin Kurnia Winenda, partner at Dentons HPRP. “Erwin is helpful and can help us solve issues by providing solutions,” says Judokusumo. “I feel safe because every time I can call him, he will happily help us.”

Real estate, construction giants

In the real estate sector, Eddy Leks, founder and managing partner of Leks&Co, is recommended by Ivan Setiady, director at real estate company Risland Indonesia.

“He can find legal solutions for us and understands very well the complex and dynamic regulations in his field,” says Setiady. “He was one of the few lawyers who educated us when the government made changes to the regulations in the property sector in the Omnibus Law.”

Steven Kusnadi, development manager at asset management services Boustead Funds Management in Singapore, has this to say about Leks. “He is always willing to absorb new challenges and perform to the next level. His knowledge and honesty about the subject are appreciated, without overselling the service he offers.”

Arif Kurniawan, legal manager at public railways operator Kereta Api Indonesia in Bandung, recommends Kirana Sastrawijaya, senior partner at UMBRA, as “an experienced lawyer in the field of construction contracts and dispute resolution”.

Fransisca, partner at Makes & Partners (who is known by just one name), is applauded by Miarni Ang, legal director at real estate developer Agung Podomoro Land in Jakarta for being “very responsive and concerned in client interest”.

“For emergency cases, we can always ask for her advice any time,” says Ang.

Compiling the A-List

The A-List is based on extensive research conducted by Asia Business Law Journal. To identify Indonesia’s top 100 lawyers we turned to thousands of in-house counsel in both Indonesia and worldwide – 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, including Boustead Funds Management, CBRE, CIMB Niaga Sekuritas, Coca Cola, Crypto.com, Europacific Partners, Goldfive Investment Capital, GSK, London Stock Exchange Group, Mayer Brown, Mitsubishi Corporation, PrivyID, Rajawali Corpora, Frisian Flag Indonesia, Zurich Asuransi Indonesia, Sicepat Ekspress, Agung Podomoro Land, Pintar Inovasi Digital, Kereta Api Indonesia, Rabobank, Risland Indonesia, SF Capital, Sinar Mas Digital Ventures, Speedmark Indonesia, and many more. Thorough editorial research followed the nomination process.

The final list reflects the nominations received, combined with Asia Business Law Journal editorial team’s more than 30 years of collective experience in documenting and analysing the Indonesia legal market.

All Indonesian private practice lawyers 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 following this article. 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.

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