KPMG expands Asia Pacific legal services

KPMG has launched a law firm in Hong Kong and is to open another in Shanghai later in the year as part of moves to expand its legal capabilities in Asia Pacific

SF Lawyers is the newest member of the KPMG’s global legal services network. It will initially commence operations with four senior hires (Shirley Fu, Rodney Chen, Leo Tian and David Murray) and two senior associates (Alex Ma and Sherman Wong) joining either now or over the next few months.

There are plans for around 20 lawyers in the first year, as well as opening an office in Shanghai. Honson To, chairman of KPMG Asia Pacific and China, said: ‘With increased global connectivity and the digitalisation of many business functions, SF Lawyers will be uniquely positioned to deliver on the needs of both domestic clients (including going outbound) and multinational clients entering or transacting in the Chinese market.’

Working in conjunction with KPMG, SF Lawyers will provide clients with legal services in key areas such as M&A and deals, and infrastructure projects. It will also offer technology enabled legal services, using robotics, artificial intelligence and other technologies developed globally and in China through the KPMG digital ignition centre.

SF Lawyers will be operating in association with KPMG Law in Australia, which is led by recent hire Stuart Fuller, the former global managing partner of King & Wood Mallesons. 

Fuller, who is Asia Pacific regional leader for legal services, said: ‘We are excited about the association between KPMG Law in Australia and SF Lawyers in Hong Kong, which is reflective of the increasingly important trade and business flows between the two jurisdictions.

‘We are not trying to be a traditional law firm. Our approach is different, with a focus on offering our clients integrated global legal advice and solutions, where we are able to work seamlessly with existing KPMG clients who are looking for local and multijurisdictional counsel.’

All of the Big Four firms have moved into the Asia Pacific legal market in recent years. PwC launched its firm Tiang & Co in Hong Kong in 2017, while EY added Singapore’s Atlas Asia Law Corporation as a part of its network last year, and operates as LC Lawyers (Lin & Associates) in Hong Kong. Deloitte launched foreign law practice Deloitte Legal International in Singapore.

In the UK, Deloitte has announced the appointment of Michael Castle as its new managing partner for Deloitte Legal in the UK and its first permanent lead partner for this service line

He joins after spending more than two decades at Allen & Overy, where he was a partner in the banking practice.

Deloitte first announced plans to expand its legal services last year. Since then, the UK team has over 60 client-facing practicing lawyers and 125 other fee earners, with recruitment set to continue throughout 2019. Globally, Deloitte Legal has 2,500 professionals operating in 85 countries.

Report by Pat Sweet

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