Pinsent Masons’ first APAC head targets energy, infrastructure

Pinsent Masons’ first APAC head targets energy, infrastructure James Morgan-Payler
James Morgan-Payler

Pinsent Masons has overhauled its regional leadership structure with Melbourne-based partner James Morgan-Payler in the newly created head of Asia Pacific role. The appointment underlines the firm’s focus on the region’s infrastructure and energy industries, which are Morgan-Payler’s specialised areas of practice.

Morgan-Payler is supported by Singapore-based partner Johanna Murray who will be the firm’s inaugural chief operating officer of Asia Pacific. Partners Alvin Ho in Hong Kong and Kanyi Lui in Beijing will be on the Asia Pacific strategic management team along with Melbourne-based partner Matthew Croagh as head of Australia, and partner Ian Laing as head of Singapore. Partner Melanie Grimmitt, in Leeds, England will be global sector head for energy and partner Hammad Akhtar, in London, the global practice group head for transactional services.

“Renewable energy will continue to be at the forefront of energy sector growth across the region, driven by the demand for clean energy contributing to net-zero and ESG targets,” Morgan-Payler told Asia Business Law Journal. “The infrastructure sector continues to boom in Australia backed by significant government investment and there is a strong pipeline of infrastructure development expected throughout Asia.”

Morgan-Payler expects a rise in projects endorsing the clean energy transition with strong interest in harnessing offshore wind across Southeast Asia. The firm is also seeing continued investment and opportunities in technology, science and industry – fast-moving sectors even during the pandemic.

“The scope for market growth across the Asia Pacific region provides significant opportunities for the entire project lifecycle and most practice areas,” said Morgan-Payler.

Pinsent Masions’ revenue has grown by more than 20% over the past three years, and its headcount has risen from 247 to 277 across the region. The firm has longstanding bases in China and Singapore, and expanded to Melbourne and Sydney in 2016, and Perth a year later.

Priorities in the coming year will be enhancing client service delivery as a purpose-led professional services business with law at the core as challenges ranging from the pandemic to legislative, geopolitical and technological advancements continue.

“While there are some companies who choose to invest in larger in-house legal teams, there is still a need for expert advice where deep sectoral and industry experience is required for the project or dispute at hand,” Morgan-Payler said.

”In many instances, stronger in-house teams result in a better understanding and identification of risk. This often results in greater recognition that external assistance is required and more sophisticated identification of the right external specialist.”