Linklaters’ new Asia leader lists priorities

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Linklaters’ new regional managing partner for Asia, William Liu, has named two priorities for his four-year tenure to maintain the law firm’s value and position in the market – the firm’s clients, and its own people.

The Hong Kong-based head of capital markets in Asia for Linklaters, until he began his new role on 1 June 2021, told Asia Business Law Journal that funding would also be a significant focus for the firm.

“Our works are fairly concentrated with acting for top international investment and commercial banks, financial institutions, and some of the leading and multinational corporates,” said Liu. “The clients have been very kind to us, and our big target is to continue to do what we do well and deliver the best service to our client base.”

Liu said he wanted to significantly expand the firm’s revenue from funds, including private equity, alternative credit providers, infrastructure funds and property funds. He noted that funding had risen as a major player in almost every sector, especially in emerging industries.

“Part of our core strategies is to follow our clients, banks, corporates and funds – we do feel we will be able to have a bigger share in the tech, healthcare and ESG sector,” he said. “We are already doing a lot of great work in those sectors, and we want to double down on it.”

Looking at his own experience in capital markets, where he grew revenue by 10-12% year-on-year, Liu said he believed Asia was a place full of opportunities. In general, he said the Asian market had been flourishing in its sophistication, and faster than anyone could have imagined.

For example, there were only two unicorn companies in Asia valued at more than USD1 billion in 2012, but today the region is home to more than 170, making up 30% of the total global share. This is most likely supported by advanced tech development and a relatively younger population than other mature economies.

As a people business, Liu said his second pillar, the firm’s people and culture, played a significant role in his strategy of cultivating the best talent. With companies starting to adapt better to the pandemic, and expectations that economies will bounce back, Liu has prepared the firm to shift back to some form of normalcy in the next six to nine months.

“The priority for us is that we prepare ourselves to be able to come out of the pandemic even stronger than before,” he said. “For months, we have been pretty much in a crisis management mode. [Now] we need to capture the growth right after the pandemic.”

Liu said he planned to continue to raise the firm’s investment in Asia by hiring more talent. The progress of the Asian market and the firm’s presence in the region has taught him the biggest lesson he needed.

“The experience I found is if you find the right people, who are hungry, energetic and curious, not afraid of trying new things, then if you put them together and empower them, the results will follow,” he said.