Top 30 UK law firm Mishcon de Reya opened its first office in Asia, choosing Singapore as its base to serve high net worth clients, after hiring a two-partner team from Withers KhattarWong.
The firm intends to initially focus on legal services catering to high net worth families across Southeast Asia, including international tax and succession planning, and advising clients and their businesses on private capital investments, restructuring and debt financing transactions.
Mishcon is London-based, and the new Singapore branch is the only office outside the UK capital. As a licensed foreign law practice in Singapore, the office will not conduct Singaporean law-related work apart from in those areas permitted by its licence, such as international commercial arbitration.
Tahirah Ara will lead the office as managing partner, Singapore, and head of Asia for Mishcon. Ara, a specialist in restructuring, finance and corporate transactions, was previously a partner at Withers KhattarWong and co-head of their business group for Asia.
Partner Simon Michaels, an international wealth planning expert in Singapore, who left Withers last year to head the Singapore office of Mishcon’s wealth advisory arm, MDR Mayfair, joins her, along with special counsel Lawrence Altman, a US-qualified finance and restructuring lawyer, and several associates and administrative staff.
“Opening a legal office in lockdown is an interesting experience to say the least,” Ara told Asia Business Law Journal. “Although we have a steady stream of existing client work, we have not been able to visit our clients following the office opening, and have not been able to pitch new clients for work in person.
“The latter is a challenge all lawyers are currently facing, as the lawyer-client relationship is a relationship of trust and an in-person meeting is typically required to start that relationship, in particular with Asian clients.”
Mishcon de Reya’s executive chair, Kevin Gold, added: “Singapore is the centre of professional services talent in the region and, as such, is attracting capital from the entire region. Having a physical presence here represents our commitment to both Asia – a key growth area for our firm and the world – and its people. It will be key to enabling us to build meaningful relationships with our clients and intermediaries.”