Asian Legal Market Perspective: Top Innovative Law Firms in the Asian Region

Topics: Asia Pacific, Law Firm Profitability, Law Firms, Leadership, Legal Innovation, Thomson Reuters


In its inaugural innovation list, Thomson Reuters’ Asia Legal Business named the Top 10 law firms across the Asian region that are using innovation to work more efficiently, assist clients better and remain ahead of their competitors. You can see the entire list here; and some of the firms named are highlighted below:

AdventBalance (Singapore & Hong Kong)

Leading the charge of the new law firms in Asia is the Australia-headquartered AdventBalance, one of the early pioneers in the contract lawyer space in the region, and it is going from strength to strength, with more than 100 lawyers in Asia at present. Following its stated aim for “putting our clients and lawyers in control,” AdventBalance’s lawyer/consultant team works onsite and directly with clients, giving them direct, flexible access to legal expertise. The firm has also done away with the billable hour – work is completed on a fixed fee basis.

Eversheds (Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai & Singapore)

Eversheds prides itself on going beyond “black letter” legal advice and its focus on “changing the business of law.” In Asia, Eversheds has pioneered a new approach to advising clients on employment and HR-related legal and commercial issues. For example, the team has co-authored a report that examines the future of the HR function and stresses the need for the HR profession to redefine its role at a more strategic level. In this way, says the firm, the employment teams could “analyze the ‘business critical’ issues facing organizations and provide guidance and support on how to address these commercial challenges.”

Finally the firm launched two key products and services in Asia last year. The first was Eversheds Consulting, which provides legal and business advisory consulting solutions to clients across Asia, helping general counsel and in-house teams to develop their business plans and strategy. Eversheds Consulting in turn launched Eversheds Agile in Asia, which provides contract lawyers to in-house legal teams.

Kim & Chang (Seoul & Hong Kong)

South Korea’s largest firm Kim & Chang had a good year in 2015 when it came to innovative deals. For one, it represented the KT Consortium in receiving preliminary approval for Korea’s first Internet-only bank. It was the first banking license issued by the regulators in 23 years.

Apart from the deals though, the firm is known in South Korea for pioneering a task-force approach to each engagement. In addition to lawyers, its team includes subject matter and industry experts.

Pinsent Masons (Beijing, Hong Kong, Singapore & Shanghai)

Notable innovative work from Pinsent Masons last year included advising the International Finance Corp. on the development of a $600 million Light Rail Transit system in Manila, a key component of the Philippines government’s ambitious Public-Private Partnership program.

In China, it has made some innovative moves in the recent past. It worked with its strategic ally Hesen Law Firm to successfully develop an approach that not only allows them to collaborate in a way that is compliant with Bureau of Justice rules, but also allows the partners of each firm to co-attend client meetings and provide a comprehensive service. Pinsent Masons has also developed close links with top Chinese schools like Tsinghua, Peking, Renmin and Tianjin universities to ensure a steady flow of talented graduates, and to forge close relationships with academics who are often key referrers of work.

Ropes & Gray (Hong Kong, Seoul, Shanghai & Tokyo)

In 2015, Ropes & Gray was involved in several transactions that used novel strategies, such as the PT Berlian Laju Tanker restructuring (see Drew entry above), which required the implementation of dozens of arrangements across Asia and the U.S.

In addition, Ropes & Gray introduced a new practice called “special situations.” Special situations teams combine private equity, M&A, finance, capital markets, and other corporate transactional skills with the knowledge of formal bankruptcy and insolvency processes. “We have seen the formation of this type of group at many of our clients,” says the firm. “These groups seek unique investment opportunities that exist at the cross-section of transactions and restructurings with an aim to capitalize on a variety of bespoke situations. Our clients include the special situations groups at top-tier financial institutions, the private debt arms of global private equity funds, and global and regional hedge funds.”