Following an extensive nominations process, Asia Business Law Journal reveals the A-List of Taiwan’s legal profession. Lim Miran and Nguyen Yen report
While the pandemic plunges the global economy into deep contraction, Taiwan’s economy is an outlier – growing by 3.1% in 2020 and accelerating by its fastest pace in more than a decade, by 6.1% in 2021. This expansion, driven mainly by strong exports and capital investment, reinforced an imperative demand for businesses to have legal advisers by their side during these challenging times.
Benefiting from increased global demand for information and communications technology products amid the unprecedented disruption, Taiwan remains a world leader in semiconductor manufacturing.
This trend, among other key growth drivers, contributed to the return of Taiwan enterprises’ investment in Taiwan to the tune of TWD1 trillion (USD35 billion) from 2019 to 2021, according to the latest update from Taiwan’s National Development Council.
For 2022, however, Taiwan’s economic forecast is less rosy than 2021, with concerns over global inflationary pressures, supply chain disruption and trade war tensions. The Taiwan Institute of Economic Research (TIER) expects Taiwan’s real GDP to grow by 4.1% in 2022, while Morgan Stanley and Citi forecast 3.8% growth.
Despite labour shortages and temporary supply chain disruption aggravated by the covid pandemic, experts are optimistic that Taiwan’s economy will continue its recovery trend, and confident the resurgence will soon be brought under control.
Among relevant legal developments, Taiwan’s Financial Supervisory Commission responded to increased environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) investing last summer – mandating new disclosure requirements for ESG-labelled funds to prevent “green washing”, enabling investors to more closely scrutinise and evaluate their ESG performance. Taiwan also recently passed several amendments on tax incentives in the biotech and pharmaceuticals industries to maintain its economic competitiveness.
Against this backdrop, Asia Business Law Journal presents its A-List of the top 100 lawyers practising in Taiwan (the list of all 100 lawyers and key practice areas of endorsement follows this review). The list is based on extensive research conducted and nominations received from in-house counsel in Taiwan and elsewhere, as well as Taiwan-focused partners at international law firms based outside the jurisdiction.
Comments submitted to Asia Business Law Journal suggest that businesses especially appreciate lawyers who can handle a mix of public and private sector mandates, while being well equipped to tackle the ever-changing business landscape in Taiwan.
Nearly all of the A-List lawyers are located in Taipei ‒ the economic, political, educational and cultural centre. The city also headquarters the majority of business enterprises that fuel Taiwan’s economic growth and development.
Despite the persisting pandemic, Taiwan ranked fourth in the latest evaluation of the world’s best investment destinations 2021 by US-based Business Environment Risk Intelligence (BERI). As more companies seek growth beyond their home markets, lawyers help clients navigate the market to achieve their business goals, while reducing risks.
Yi Sung, chief financial officer at multinational electronics company ViewSonic Corporation in California, nominates Baker McKenzie partner Henry Chang for his longstanding support in handling the company’s patent lawsuit cases in the past decade.
“He has done a great job getting us very positive and better-than-expected outcomes in our cases,” says Yi.
Barry O’Neill, CEO of renewable energy provider WElink Energy in Dublin, also thanks Chang for his “outstanding commercial advice, support and access that consistently exceed expectations”.
Gu Jing, head of legal, APAC, at the International Swaps and Derivatives Association (ISDA) in Singapore, vouches for Russin & Vecchi partner Thomas McGowan.
“Tom is ISDA’s netting and collateral opinion counsel in Taiwan. He is a very experienced derivatives lawyer and the go-to-person for a lot of banks active in Taiwan’s derivatives market,” says Gu. “Tom is a phenomenal speaker and is able to dissect complicated legal issues and explain them very clearly.”
Michelle Lai, executive director at JPMorgan Chase Bank in Taipei, also trusts McGowan for his “professionalism, dedication to seeking the optimal solution, and stamina to provide the best service”.
“His guidance and advice always strike a balance between commercial goal and legal risks,” says Lai. “He has acted at all times with great judgment, integrity and professionalism. I appreciate with my whole heart the services he provided to my firm all the years.”
Jennifer Lee, financial controller at testing and accreditation service provider Bureau Veritas in Paris, praises Tseng Ken-Ying, a partner at Taiwan’s largest law firm Lee and Li, as “the lawyer to contact at once for every legal matter”.
“We are lucky to have her on our side to handle legal matters for us, and we will continue to rely on her for our future operations,” says Lee.
Tseng is also praised by Ivy Lin, senior legal counsel of health technology company Philips Taiwan in Taipei. “Ken-Ying is professional and experienced in privacy law, and always provides cost-effective and cost-efficient services,” says Lin.
Tseng’s colleague, partner Lawrence Yu Tien-Chi, who specialises in employment issues and arbitration, is also praised by Lin as “professional and experienced in labour law”.
Known for its mature and active capital market, Taiwan is reshaping its portfolios for an evolving investment landscape.
Taiwan’s Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC) has announced seven key areas for financial inspections including information security, consumer protection, conflict of interest, real estate credit, and green finance. These are areas in which many renowned lawyers on the A-List are applauded for their valuable advice.
Hung Yuchuan, director at Taipei-based semiconductor products provider Topco Scientific, nominates Guo Ju Law Firm managing partner Alex Hsin for his decades of experience in international investment, M&A, corporate management and dispute resolution.
“Alex is renowned for his good knowledge of the business operation and high sense of market change, and is good at coming up with a solution that always satisfies his clients,” says Hung.
Robert Lou, general counsel at global live streaming platform 17LIVE in Taipei, also applauds Hsin as a veteran practitioner. “With deep experience in corporate and contentious matters, and multi-disciplinary such as law, accounting and advisory, Alex and his team provide clients with full service on a single platform and thus handle all cases in an effective and efficient manner,” says Lou.
Stuart Feldstein, executive vice president of crop protection products supplier Albaugh in Iowa, recommends Jones Day partner John Lin for his assistance in completing complex cross-border merger transactions.
“John is a very experienced and talented M&A lawyer,” says Feldstein. “His experience in such transactions proved invaluable in arriving quickly at decisions for structuring the transaction, and in assuring a smooth negotiation process. He works very well with opposing counsel, communicates frequently, and anticipates issues.”
Lin’s fellow partner, Simon Yu, is applauded by Titan Lee, head of legal at Taiwanese electric scooter manufacturer Gogoro in Taipei, for his international litigation experience. “Simon is creative, experienced and smart,” says Lee. “He can always figure out what his client is looking for through a quick conversation and provide all the scenarios and pros and cons for his client to consider. He is the best litigator I have ever met.”
Foo Maw Shen, managing director at Singapore-based dispute resolution law firm FC Legal Asia, has this to say about Formosa Transnational senior partner Cheng Chun Yih: “Chun Yih is an effective bilingual lawyer. He is commercial-minded and always able to come up with innovative and practical solutions best suited to the clients’ commercial objectives.”
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 Taiwan, we turned to thousands of in-house counsel in Taiwan and around the world – as well as partners at international law firms – asking them to tell us which lawyers should make the cut, and why?
Nominations were made by professionals at a wide range of Taiwanese and global companies, as well as international law firms including: Albaugh, Bureau Veritas, BASF Taiwan, Dyaco, EY Transaction Advisory Services, FC Legal Asia, Fresenius Medical Care Taiwan, GigaMedia, Gogoro, Kuehne + Nagel International, Philips Taiwan, Ting-Hsin International Group, Topco Scientific, Shin & Kim, Softstar Entertainment, Venable, ViewSonic, WElink Energy, 3M, 17LIVE, 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 more than 30 years of collective experience in documenting and analysing Taiwan’s legal market.
All Taiwanese 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 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.