CMS secures local law capability in Singapore via deal with Olswang's former alliance firm

CMS has become the latest international firm to secure local law capability in Singapore with the launch of a formal law alliance (FLA).

The firm has entered into a formal relationship with seven-lawyer Singaporean boutique Holborn Law, which will now operate as CMS Holborn Asia, effective today (1 September). The alliance will enable CMS to offer the full spectrum of dispute resolution services in Singapore, including litigating in local courts.

Holborn Law was launched in 2015 by managing director Lakshanthi Fernando, a litigation and international arbitration specialist. Fernando launched the firm as a best friend firm of legacy Olswang – which merged with CMS this May – after leading the arbitration practice for local firm LegalStandard for six years.

Director Jeremy Tan, who specialises in technology, media and telecommunications matters, joined last year from Norton Rose Fulbright.

CMS’s current Singapore presence is the result of the combination of two legacy offices in the city-state – those of Olswang and Nabarro, following their three-way merger on 1 May.

The formal alliance takes the number of CMS lawyers operating in Singapore to 30, according to Singapore managing partner Andrew Stott.

Stott, former Singapore managing partner at legacy Olswang, took over as managing partner of the merged office when the CMS merger went live. He had led Olswang’s Singapore practice since May 2016 after succeeding former Asia head Rob Bratby, who subsequently left to join Arnold & Porter ahead of its merger with fellow US firm Kaye Scholer.

“Our growth has been driven by client support for our sector-aligned model across our practice groups. It also cements our investment in, and commitment to, contributing to the growth of the nation as a hub for local and global businesses operating in the region,” Stott said.

This February, CMS senior partner Penelope Warne told Legal Week that the firm had identified Asia as an immediate post-merger focus for investment. CMS UK managing partner Stephen Millar said the acquisition of a Singapore presence via the Nabarro and Olswang mergers had filled “a big gap” for the firm.

Nabarro launched in Singapore in 2010, while Olswang opened its base there in 2012.

CMS’s Singapore tie-up follows similar recent arrangements by several international law firms. In April, Ashurst launched a formal law alliance with local firm ADTLaw; that followed a joint law venture established by Simmons & Simmons and its partner firm JWS Asia Law in October 2016. Before that, Reed Smith also entered into an FLA with Singaporean firm Resource Law.