Merger negotiations between Alllen & Gledhill and A&O pose questions for future of profession in Singapore

November 30, 2011 As Allen & Gledhill, Singapore's leading corporate law firm continues its courtship with British giant Allen & Overy, many in the industry are asking what a merger between the two firms could mean for Singapore’s legal industry.

Until 2008 foreign law firms in Singapore were not permitted to practice local law unless they formed a non-exclusive joint law venture with a local firm. In 2008 the Singapore government licensed six foreign firms to practice local law if they met certain conditions. And now the merger negotiations between of a Singaporean and an international law firm proceed without objection from the government.

Kenneth Aboud, Singapore managing partner for Allen & Overy, declined to comment specifically about the two firms' plans but noted that it made more sense these days for international and local firms to strengthen their ties. "A lot of work now is intra-Asia, instead of just Western money coming into Asia," says Aboud. "Local and regional contacts are very important in this market and one can take advantage of that."

K. Anparasan, senior partner at KhattarWong, says that if the merger is completed it will lead to other mergers with foreign law firms, in large part because local firms will need international alliances to remain attractive to the top talent out of Singapore’s law schools.

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