Bird & Bird moves to the forefront in Singapore

By Justin Walkey, Alban Kang, Lorraine Tay, Sandra Seah


International law firm Bird & Bird moves to the forefront as its Singapore associated office changes its name to Bird & Bird ATMD LLP.

The change from ATMD Bird & Bird LLP to Bird & Bird ATMD LLP reflects the successful integration of a local practice with an international practice over the past six years following the initial global association in Singapore in 2009. The Singapore office is integral to Bird & Bird's long-term strategy for the Asia Pacific region, and provides a central hub for driving  the firm's focus for development and growth in ASEAN.

In addition to the formal name change, the Singapore office has also implemented strategic changes to its management structure. These changes have included the recent handing over of management responsibilities by long-standing Managing Partner, Alban Kang to the newly appointed joint Managing Partners Sandra Seah and Lorraine Anne Tay (who also heads the Singapore IP Group) in May 2015. Sandra and Lorraine are supported by a local Executive Committee comprising partner Marcus Chow and COO Haryane Mustajab.

Alban Kang continues his role as an active partner in Bird & Bird's IP Group in Singapore, and plays a key role in the firm's Asia Pacific Development Advisory Group, with a particular focus on the further development and expansion of the firm's business in the ASEAN region and the Japan markets. Alban will also work closely with senior partner Tay Beng Chai from Singapore and who heads up Bird & Bird's Asia Corporate Practice Group and who is also a member of the AP Development Advisory Group. The strategic advisory team is led by Justin Walkey, Chairman Asia Pacific for Bird & Bird.

Alban Kang said: "the development and internationalisation of the Singapore practice will continue. In addition to our ever growing IP, Corporate, Employment and Dispute Resolution practices, we have also fostered sector focus practice areas such as Aviation and Energy & Utilities serving clients not only in Singapore but also within the ASEAN and the broader Pan Asian region. Our Singapore based lawyers are doing more cross-border and trans-jurisdictional work than ever before."

Newly appointed Joint Managing Partner Sandra Seah who also heads the Singapore Corporate Group further added; " While a few years ago, we hardly did any non-IP work for airlines, with the arrival of Leo Fattorini, who joined us from a leading European airline, we are now representing several major airlines in the ASEAN region in a variety of aviation related work from leasing of aircrafts to regulatory matters."

The past 18-24 months has seen some very exciting developments for Bird & Bird in the Asia Pacific region with the strengthening of its geographical footprint into new markets. The firm opened its first Australian office in Sydney in November 2014. Bird & Bird has also established strategic cooperations with leading local firms in Korea (Hwang Mok Park) Indonesia (K & K Advocates and Nurjadin Sumono & Mulyadi Partners), and which complement the firm's longer stablished associations with Tay & Partners in Malaysia and Lawjay Partners in China.

Bird & Bird's growing presence and strength in the Asia Pacific region has not gone unnoticed with the firm being recognised for two consecutive years at the prestigious Asia FT Innovative Lawyer Awards for its dynamic cooperations in Korea and Indonesia, and in Australia where the cooperation transitioned to full merger. In 2015 in the Business of Law category the firm was one of only four firms recognised as "stand out" with the FT praising the way Bird & Bird has "built up its Asia-Pacific business by focusing on its core strength of technology". In the FT Law 25 - Internationally headquartered firms list, Bird & Bird was ranked 15th out of 25 which was a significant step up on last year when it was  ranked 21st. In the recent The Lawyer Asia - Asia Pacific top 150 report Bird & Bird was also ranked 21st in the category for International Investment - International Top 50 and which noted "The fastest growing include Bird & Bird which grew 87.3 per cent, partly as a result of its merger with Australian firm Truman Hoyle". We were also listed under the category for Interest in the ASEAN as one of at least nine new entries into the ASEAN region by international firms over the past 18 months.

As well as the move into new and emerging markets, Bird & Bird has significantly bolstered its service offering in the Pan Asian region with a series of senior later hires and partner appointments which have included Ken Cheung (Corporate) and Seow Hui Goh (Employment) in Singapore, Wing On Chui (Corporate), Michelle Chan (TMT), Ying Wang (Employment), Sven-Michael Werner (Corporate), David Allison (IP), Zhaofeng Zhou (Competition), Christine Yiu (IP), Ted Chwu (IP) and Rieko Michishita (IP) in China and Hong Kong, and Jane Owen (IP) in Australia.

On the business services side and to further support this rapid expansion in the region and cross marketing, Alastair Graham, the former Director of Corporate Affairs in London, relocated to Singapore as the Director of Corporate Affairs - Asia Pacific. Alastair works closely with Justin Walkey, Chairman Asia Pacific, in implementing the firm's continuing strategy for growth and development across the Pan Asian region.

Angela Keogh also recently relocated from London to Sydney, where she holds the role of Head of Finance Asia Pacific.

Justin Walkey said: "The rapidly growing and developing Asia Pacific region is increasingly important to our business. These developments further reinforce Bird & Bird's international strategy for growth and investment, and our long-term commitment to clients in the ASEAN and the broader Asia Pacific region.  We will continue to grow our business and geographical network to meet the ever changing needs of our clients in the region."

Bird & Bird's partner headcount has increased to a total of 38 in the Asia Pacific region with offices in Beijing, Hong Kong, Singapore, Shanghai and Sydney.