International law firm Mayer Brown, the world’s 22nd largest law firm, has launched an Asia trade consulting arm in Singapore, according to a media release issued by the firm last week.  Richard Smith (RWS_01), Australian business development professional, also noted the event on Twitter.

The new consulting arm, according to the firm’s media release, will “advise clients on a wide range of Asia-focused international trade matters including WTO issues, international trade policies, customs, export controls and anti-dumping investigations.”  Further, as the firm outlines, the consulting division “will be staffed by five highly experienced customs and international trade advisors based in Asia.”  The consultancy will be “headed by Chief Executive Officer Cecil Leong in Singapore”.  Flora Sun will join the consultancy as Greater China Managing Director.

The firm cited increased demand for Asia-focused trade and customs issues among clients as responsible for the establishment of the division.

More law firms adopting non-legal consulting practices

International law firm Withers LLP set up a non-legal consulting practice, the Withers Consulting Group (WCG), in early 2013.

Diversification of services into non-legal or quasi-legal consulting is already a tried and tested method for law firms to generate new revenue.  The District of Columbia Bar permits Washington, DC-based law firms to maintain hybrid law and lobbying practices together with non-lawyer professionals, for example.  And these arrangements have proven to be extremely lucrative.  And the trail has been blazed previously by accounting firms as well.

George Beaton, Head of Australia’s Beaton Global, provided a superb outline of why law firms should diversify in an article published in late 2012 in the Financial Review.  Beaton outlined in that article why the legal services sector ought to emulate the success the accounting industry has had with consulting practices.

Posted by John Grimley

John Grimley edits and publishes Asia Law Portal and is the author of A Comprehensive Guide to the Asia-Pacific Legal Markets. He specializes in providing writing, editing, research and strategy services to the corporate and professional services sectors. Between 2002 and 2008, he established and directed the European representative business development office of US AmLaw 100 law and public policy firm Patton Boggs LLP. At the inception of his career, he served as a writer to the President of the United States in the White House. A licensed American lawyer, he holds a Juris Doctor from the University of San Diego School of Law.

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