Watson Farley seals new Singapore alliance after calling time on previous joint law venture

Watson Farley & Williams has secured a new Singapore tie-up via a formal law alliance (FLA) with local firm Wong Tan & Molly Lim.

The new alliance, dubbed WFW & WTL, comes after the breakup of the UK firm’s previous Singapore relationship in 2016, when it ended a five-year joint law venture (JLV) with local firm Asia Practice.

Wong Tan & Molly Lim is led by managing director Sunny Wong and chair Molly Lim, who co-founded the firm in 1987 after practising at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in the city-state. Wong is a banking and finance lawyer while Lim specialises in litigation.

The firm, which has six directors, focuses on corporate and banking, litigation and arbitration and real estate.

The deal hands Watson Farley a full-service Singapore law practice, including the ability to handle local court proceedings.

“Our alliance with Wong Tan & Molly Lim is another step forward in our strategic focus on strengthening our services offering within our core sectors,” said Watson Farley managing partner Chris Lowe, who oversaw the firm’s Singapore operation between 2001 and 2012.

JLVs and FLAs were introduced by the Singapore Government in the early 2000s to encourage collaboration between Singapore and international legal professions.

The two structures are similar in that they both grant foreign law firms access to a full-service Singapore practice. However, FLAs are generally considered the more flexible option as they do not require the creation of a separate legal entity, unlike JLVs, under which firms collaborate while remaining distinct entities.

Other firms to have recently secured FLAs in Singapore include CMS and Reed Smith, while Simmons & Simmons formed a JLV with local firm JWS Asia Law in 2016.