🇸🇬 Singapore: The new Asian powerhouse?
In today’s email:
Get a £5 free share
A degree in wizardry
A&O Shearman is a reality
The sounds of the seaside
The scampi king gets blocked
LadBible wants to break America
Microsoft is finally a massive gamer
… and more!
EDITOR’S RAMBLE 🗣
At university studying law, I was able to pick a ‘non-law’ module in my second year.
I picked a philosophy module called Introduction to Logic. It ended up being my best grade that year (clearly, I was not an amazing law student!).
I really enjoyed studying something completely different.
Exeter Uni have taken this further, though. They’re now offering the UK’s first degree in magic and the occult — which I thought was cool.
The new program explores the impact of witchcraft and magic on society. Students will be able to take modules on dragons, the legend of King Arthur, the philosophy of psychedelics, and more.
If you’re studying law, and are allowed to pick even one non-law module, I’d recommend you try something different… you might even pull your average grade up!
P.S. If you’re into legal tech, my friends at Law School 2.0 have released tickets for this year’s amazing (and free) legal tech vacation scheme. Sign up if you’re into it.
FEATURED REPORT 📰
🇸🇬 Singapore: The new Asian powerhouse?
What’s going on here?
A number of law firms are opening offices in Singapore (and moving out of Hong Kong and China).
Which firms have opened offices in Singapore?
📆 August '21: Orrick opened its Singapore office
📆 October '22: Goodwin opened an office in Singapore, relocating some lawyers from its Hong Kong office
📆 October '22: Mayer Brown announced a joint venture with Singapore’s PK Wong & Nair
📆 July '23: Charles Russell Speechlys set up shop in Singapore
📆 July '23: Ropes & Gray shared plans to launch an office in Singapore
📆 October '23: Quinn Emanuel applied to open an office in Singapore
📆 October '23: Wilson Sonsini announced that it’s considering opening a firm in Singapore
Why do firms open offices in Asia?
💴 Economy: The Asian economy is outperforming both North America and Europe. Their economy has not had the interest rate shock seen in the US or Europe (which has been slowing down transactions – and legal work – in these regions). Actually, Asia’s inflation has been at about half the rate of the US and Europe (here’s why law firms care about inflation and interest rates).
💫 Reputation: Singapore and Hong Kong are considered the two financial centres of the Asia Pacific region, so it makes sense for law firms to develop their practices there.
📜 Common law system: With legal systems based on English common law, Singapore and Hong Kong are also very attractive for English and American law firms to expand their offices.
Why are firms moving out of Hong Kong and China?
There are geopolitical hurdles in Hong Kong and China that can make it hard for international law firms to operate.
In August, Dentons separated from its Chinese partner, Dacheng, after eight years together. This move came after China introduced stricter data privacy and cybersecurity regulations.
Last year, Addleshaw Goddard closed its Hong Kong offices due to a “unique set of challenges” it faced there – probably the strict Covid restrictions (which included travel bans, quarantine periods and office closures). But the firm did keep its office in Singapore.
So, how’s Singapore any different?
✌️ Political stability: Compared to Hong Kong, Singapore is more politically stable. Hong Kong is divided politically between the pro-democracy group and those that support closer ties with mainland China.
🔄 Openness: China and Hong Kong have both had stricter Covid restrictions over the last few years. This makes it more difficult and uncertain to do business there.
⚙️ Regulatory framework: Chinese President Xi Jinping’s regulatory crackdown on the tech sector has slowed down dealmaking in the region. In 2023, Chinese deal activity in the US fell to its lowest level in 17 years.
Why do law firms care?
Law firms (like their clients) are dealing with an ever-changing world and geopolitical changes have real impact. That’s why China’s becoming harder to operate in.
We’ve also seen this with Russia. A lot of global firms operated there. But weeks after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it became a risk to have an international law firm operating in Moscow, so firms left.
As a global firm, they’ll want to help clients in the markets where their clients operate – that’s why firms open new offices in different spots around the world, like Singapore.
Opening an office in Singapore isn’t without its own problems, though. Startup costs are high there (you need to apply to open an office) and there are restrictions on who can advise on local Singaporean law (for things like regulatory work or private wealth, you might need to get advice from a Singaporean law firm).
But, right now, as the environment in China gets more politically challenging, law firms seem to have picked Singapore as the new Asian powerhouse.
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A BIT OF FUN 😄
Next time you're feeling imposter syndrome, think: ‘what would Brian do?’
IN OTHER NEWS 🗞
🤝 Allen & Overy (A&O) and Shearman & Sterling have officially joined forces to create a transatlantic law titan, now dubbed A&O Shearman. With revenue of around $3.5bn (£2.1bn) and nearly 4,000 lawyers across the globe, this merger is making waves. The unanimous partner nod (over 99% votes in favour) shows a solid backing for this deal, which some say indicates the death of the ‘Magic Circle’ as a concept. If you want the background, we did we covered this merger.
💻️ Ladbible Group's owner, LBG Media, has acquired Betches (a US-based women’s media brand) an initial $24m (£19.8m). There's a sweetener too: if Betches hits certain profitability targets by 2026, the deal could soar up to $54m (£44.6m). This isn't just a random buy; both brands have a young audience and LBG Media is eyeing the vast US advertising market, aiming to deepen its roots in North America.
🎮 Microsoft finally seals the deal on its $69bn (£57bn) acquisition of Activision Blizzard, marking the gaming industry's biggest takeover yet. Though it stirred a bit of a storm with regulators, UK's approval was the green light Microsoft needed. Now, apart from having big titles like Call of Duty under its belt, Microsoft's aiming to level up the cloud gaming scene by passing the distribution rights of Activision's games to Ubisoft. This mega deal not only spells more game titles for Xbox fans but also might shift the leaderboard in the gaming industry.
🔒 TikTok is fighting back against its recent €345m (£299m) EU data privacy fine. The platform has bounced back with an appeal in the EU’s General Court, challenging the hefty fine and a compliance order from its lead data regulator in Ireland. The fine came after a close look at how TikTok handles child safeguarding, amid a broader EU move to tighten the leash on big social media players when it comes to curbing disinformation.
🍤 Scampi is serious business in the UK. Whitby Seafoods planned to acquire Kilhorne Bay Seafoods, but had to abandon it after a regulator's warning about potential price surges for customers. Whitby, a scampi giant, holding a 90% market share, eyed a merger to possibly ride the tide into European markets, leveraging Kilhorne's existing sales channels. However, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) threw a wrench in the plans, fearing less competition and a dip in quality.
AROUND THE WEB 🌐
🌊 Calm: If you wish you were by a beach, create your own custom sound of the seaside while you work.
🎵 Music: This cool website that shows you the original artist of any song, as well as any artist who has covered it.
⚽️ Sports (without the mansplaining): The GIST is a free sports newsletter led and written by women that covers the biggest headlines, including the social and cultural impact of sports. Sign up for free.*
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