Taking stock


And moving ahead

As 2020 rolls in with the promise of a fresh start and new possibilities, we bid goodbye to a momentous decade. This was an important 10 years for Asia, when countries from the continent truly came into their own – both politically and economically.

The vibrant economies and a young aspirational population have transformed Asia into the engine of global growth and innovation. This transformational phase that the region is going through opens up both opportunities and challenges, the perfect setting for a thriving legal industry.

In our cover story, we turn to Malaysia, a nation that holds great potential but is weighed down by political uncertainties. Mahathir Mohamad’s return to power in Malaysia last year was watched with a mix of excitement and anxiety. A year later, we take stock of the hits and misses of the government and, more importantly, we talk to the country’s top lawyers on the steps needed to jumpstart the economy.

Having won on a platform against systemic corruption, erosion of the rule of law, economic malaise and anti-race-based politics, the administration has spent much of its time cleaning up. And it has results to show for its work. The nation has shown improvement in several international performance indicators and indices.

There are several regulatory reviews proposed that will have a direct and immediate impact on the country’s economy and business environment, such as a new Trademark Act and ratification of the Madrid Protocol, amendments to the Franchise Act, and proposals to support green initiatives and a boost to fintech businesses. Some are well placed, while others are awaiting positive regulation, but the real question is whether the government can move these along fast enough.

We also present to you the second edition of the Philippines Law Firm Awards. This year, we have identified one law firm of the year and four winners each in 22 categories. We also have an award for the best newcomer law firm. The Philippines’ legal market is an exciting mix of both old, long-established firms that are widely respected within the country and further afield, as well as bold new firms that are challenging the status quo. Law firms that are known and recognized for their expertise and experience are having to compete with younger firms that bring energy, new ideas and specialist knowledge.

In the hot seat is a conversation with Milton Cheng, the first Asian global chair of Baker McKenzie. He tells us about his vision for the firm, his plans in Asia, and the impact of the trade war and technology.

After in-depth editorial research and surveys of a large number of in-house counsel and corporate legal managers, we bring you the Taiwan A-list, profiles of the island’s top 100 lawyers. Not surprisingly, nearly all of the A-list lawyers are located in Taipei. This may reflect the premium on lawyers who are well placed to have their ear to the ground with regards to developments among the regulators and within the corridors of power.

In our Head 2 Head series, we explore some key regional developments in energy laws in Southeast Asia and India. As the region gears up to meet ambitious economic goals, supplying its energy needs is putting strains on resources, the environment and regulatory mechanisms.

Finally, make sure you don’t miss our latest Asia Business Law Directory, where we provide you a handy guide to Thailand’s legal market.

Best wishes,

Mithun Varkey
Editor, Asia Business Law Journal
Managing Editor, Vantage Asia