Clifford Chance to close Bangkok office and end Jakarta alliance

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Clifford Chance (CC) is closing its Bangkok office and ending its exclusive association in Indonesia, as the firm moves to concentrate its Southeast Asia practice in Singapore.

The decision was announced internally on Thursday (27 April). The winding down of the Bangkok office is expected to take between 12 to 15 months, while the association with Jakarta-based Linda Widyati & Partners (LWP) will end in October this year when name partner Linda Widyati retires.

In Bangkok, where CC opened in 1996, the firm currently has 26 lawyers, including three partners – office head Fergus Evans, who has been with the firm since 1993, M&A partner Andrew Matthews and banking partner Joseph Tisuthiwongse.

A decision has not been made as to what will happen to the staff in the Bangkok office. “We have only just informed our staff and clients and we will be talking with our people over the coming weeks about the transition plan and what it means for them individually,” said Asia-Pacific managing partner Geraint Hughes.

Hughes added that the firm was very grateful for the service and contribution of lawyers and staff in Bangkok, and would provide them with full support during the transition period.

In Indonesia, CC has had an association with LWP since January 2014. The Jakarta firm, which currently has around 13 lawyers, will dissolve following Widyati’s retirement. Resident partner Jeroen Koster, who has been on secondment from CC’s Amsterdam office, will return to the Netherlands.

Hughes, who took over as the firm’s Asia-Pacific managing partner last September, said the changes would lead to further expansion of CC’s Singapore office. The measures will include adding new partners and taking additional office space in the city-state during the next few months. The firm now has 86 lawyers in Singapore, including 23 partners.

Hughes added that the decision was driven by client demand. “Concentrating our Southeast Asia resources and capability in our existing regional hub in Singapore, investing in systems and innovation that will further enhance our service to clients, and using leading local law firms in each jurisdiction, ensures we are best equipped to respond to this demand,” said Hughes.

CC declined to disclose financial performance for individual offices, but maintained that regional revenues in Asia have been growing. The firm, which saw Asia-Pacific revenues increase by 50% between 2011 and 2016, said it is currently on track to deliver its “best year ever”.

Before taking on the regional managing partner role, Hughes had managed the Singapore office for six years.