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What will the future of work look like? Indeed, what will the office of the future look like, particularly in the aftermath of the pandemic? These are questions that law firms, among other businesses, will likely be grappling with over the coming months and years. And with COVID leaving workplaces empty for prolonged periods, firms using this time to relook at their needs and options when it comes to workspaces.
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The pandemic has so far had a broadly negative impact on businesses across the region, but surprisingly, the period has also seen a number of law firms open in various Asian markets.  Their founders say they are using this period of upheaval as a time to start afresh, establishing new operations with energy and determination to do things differently.
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Big Four Singapore firm Drew & Napier has undergone something of a metamorphosis over the past year, with lateral hires, the setting up of a regional network, and a greater emphasis on technology. CEO Cavinder Bull SC talks to Asian Legal Business about the changes, and shares plans for what’s ahead.
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Last year, green bond issuances in the Asia-Pacific region hit record levels, raising $18.89 billion. Of that Mainland China’s green bond market accounted for $8.13 billion, according to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange (HKEX).
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In May last year, six international law firms combined forces to create a set of universal best-practice arbitration guidelines. But Herbert Smith Freehills, Ashurst, CMS, DLA Piper, Hogan Lovells and Latham & Watkins were not aware that they would be releasing the draft protocol, which is out for consultation this month, in such a different climate.
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Even as Singapore sees tie-ups between international and local law firms coming under pressure, two major Japanese outfits have launched formal law alliances (FLAs) in recent weeks, eager to gain a deeper foothold in the market.
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Ince’s Singapore office recently consolidated with its local alliance partner firm, Incisive Law. After announcing new senior appointments, the firm is intent on creating a stronger internal culture that will carry them through this period of change. Wai Yue Loh and Bill Ricquier, managing directors of Incisive Law, tell ALB about the latest developments.
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June is LGBTQ+ Pride Month, and while the typically colourful celebrations have been muted due to the COVID-19 outbreak, many law firms are still marking the month with various online initiatives and virtual events. Clifford Chance has hosted webinars spotlighting its LGBTQ+ pro bono work, while Pinsent Masons, Taylor Wessing and others have launched social media campaigns.
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Eversheds Sutherland and Singapore’s Harry Elias Partnership recently announced that they were ending their three-year merger with a joint media release. The statement said the firms were parting on “good terms,” but those watching on the sidelines in Singapore have questioned why the arrangement didn’t work out, suggesting that the split is symbolic of changing expectations in the highly competitive market.
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The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc across countries and industries, and the region’s legal services sector is not immune. Here’s how lawyers are currently weathering the storm, and what they need to do to rebound when it’s all over.