As 2015 begins – below is a list of 30 key people to watch for commentary and new initiatives in the business of law in the Asia-Pacific legal markets during the course of the coming year:

  1. Chris Devonshire-Ellis (@cde_asia) — Founder of Dezan Shira & Associates (@DezanShira) and Chairman of the firms International Board of Equity Partners & Directors. Dezan Shira produces Business Insights — a detailed and insightful commentary on the intersection of business and law in the Asia-Pacific region.
  2. Dan Harris (@danharris) — A partner in Seattle/China law firm Harris & Moure pllc, Harris also edits and publishes the widely read China Law Blog, which provides essential commentary on the intersection of law, culture and business in China.
  3. Yun Kriegler (@TheLawyerAsia) — Asia Editor at The Lawyer.  Kriegler is “responsible for coordinating all The Lawyer’s coverage of Asia Pacific, including international firms’ practices there, key developments of the region’s leading independent firms and in-house departments based in Asia.” She notes that: “As a native Mandarin-speaking journalist who grew up in China, I have a particular interest in, and strong connections with, the Greater China markets, but am also fascinated by the fast-evolving and highly-dynamic region as a whole.” Kriegler is arguably the pre-eminent observer of the Asia-Pacific region’s legal market.
  4. Elizabeth Broomhall (@ELBroomhall) — Asia Editor, Legal Week.  Hong Kong-based Broomhall covers the business of law in the Asia-Pacific region with lengthy and incisive articles that are must-reading for anyone seeking to understand the context behind the stories.
  5. Jessica Seah (@Jessica_Seah) —  Seah “Helped launch The Asian Lawyer–Asia region title for The American Lawyer”.  Currently on a “prolonged hiatus”, we’ll look forward to any of her superb reporting on the region’s legal markets in the coming year.
  6. George Beaton and
  7. Eric Chin (@EricJYChin) and
  8. Warren Riddell (@wpriddell) and
  9. Nick Seddon (@NicholasSeddon) — all of Beaton Capital (@BeatonCapital) — Beaton Capital’s collective experience in law firm management, macro-economics, strategy and finance offer an unparalleled depth of insight as applied to the business of law in the Asia-Pacific legal markets.  The Beaton Capital Blog should be the first port-of-call for any legal services sector professionals seeking insight into the business of law in the APAC region.
  10. Richard Smith (@RWS_01) – Sydney-based Smith draws upon more than 18 years experience in law firm business development in Southeast Asia and Australia – to provide essential insight  (from 30,000 feet up — to feet-on-the-ground and sleeves-rolled-up) on his blog RWS_01.
  11. Alan Hodgart — Managing Director, Hodgart & Associates – On April 18, 2013 at the Inter-Pacific Bar Association Annual Convention, Hodgart predicted the Asia-Pacific legal market would double between 2013 and 2017 in this presentation:  IPBASeoulpresentation.  While differing on the timing, I have found no experts who, based on analysis of the region, disagree with Hodgart’s overall conclusion of a doubling of the market within the next 7 years.
  12. Stephen Lai and
  13. Tara Shah (@TaraShah2) of Conventus Law (@conventuslaw) – Conventus-law is a Hong Kong-based digital platform serving the region’s most elite law firms.  Lai brings years of experience in legal publishing in the Asia-Pacific region to his role as Managing Director of this cutting-edge legal social media start-up.  And Attorney/Reporter Sha is often seen in front of the camera interviewing lawyers and legal services-sector professionals for the Conventus Law YouTube channel.
  14. Chew Seng Kok, Managing Director of Zico Holdings, Inc —  Zico (an outgrowth of Malaysia’s largest law firm) is the first professional services firm to list in Singapore in 2014. An Alternative Business Structure (ABS) legal services firm, it may be a future predictor of the ability of the ABS ownership model to succeed in legal services in the Asia-Pacific region.  The firm’s website describes it as an “integrated network of professional service firms focused on the ASEAN region.”
  15. Karen Tan (@HKIAC_Karen),  Business Development Director at Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre.  Tan is helping to lead the effort to help distinguish Hong Kong as a regional arbitration center amidst increasing competition from Singapore.
  16. Timothy Langley (@langleyesquire) – Tokyo based legal advisor and author of Langley Esq. Blog.  Langley’s blog is essential reading for anyone interested in the intersection of law,  business, politics, social media, traditional media and public affairs in Japan’s capital.
  17. Steven Millward (@SirSteven) – As his Twitter bio outlines, Millward “Cover[s] startups, ecommerce, tech market research and analysis across Asia for @Techinasia.  Precious little is covered at the intersection of tech, law and innovation in the region.  However, Millward recently profiled Singapore-based LawCanvas (@lawcanvas).  Here’s hoping we hear much more about it from Millward.
  18. Iris Leung (@irismtleung) — Editor of StartupsHK, Leung recently profiled Hong Kong-based legal start-up Dragon Law (@dragonlawasia).  Let’s hope we see more from Leung on the legal start-up ecosystem in Hong Kong in 2015.
  19. Gaythri Raman (@gaythri) – Raman is Head of the Asia-Pacific Rule of Law & Emerging Markets initiative at LexisNexis.  She’s helped to spearhead, among other initiatives, LexisNexis efforts to build the Myanmar civil law structures post-market liberalization.  She’s also an author at the influential Malaysian legal blog LoyarBurok (@LoyarBurok), where she “recount[s her] time with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi” in one guest-post.
  20. Sean Hayes (@SeanHayes), Editor & Publisher of The Korean Law Blog and Seoul-based Partner of IPG Legal (@IPGLegal).  Hayes provides superb commentary on the intersection of law, business and politics in South Korea.
  21. Rob Bratby (@rbratby) — International telecoms, media and technology lawyer and Managing Partner of Olswang Asia (@Olswang_Asia).  Author of ‘Watching the Connectives’ blog, Bratby is one of the pre-eminent law bloggers in Asia.
  22. Ken Jagger, Co-Founder and CEO and
  23. John Knox, Co-Founder & Managing Director, Asia, AdventBalance (@AdventBalance) – Sydney-based Advent Balance is an Asia-Pacific leader among a new breed of “NewLaw” law firms seeking to provide lower overhead, highly-efficient legal services at flat-rate prices to increasingly cost-conscious general counsel purchasers.
  24. Daniel Walker and
  25. Jacob Fisch (@jacobfisch), Serial legal-entrepreneurs and Co-Founders of Hong Kong-based legal start-up Dragon Law (@dragonlawasia) and Chief Technology Officer
  26. Terry Wong (@wawrus).  Dragon Law focuses on the provision of flat-fee legal services to other start-ups. The efforts of Walker, Fisch and Wong are perhaps a predictor of future opportunity for other similar legal start-ups in the region.
  27. Daniel Leong and
  28. Mark Png (@pngmark), Co-Founders of fast-growing Singapore-based legal tech start-up LawCanvas (@lawcanvas).
  29. Eddie Law, Editor and Publisher of eLawyer Law Blog Forum – covering the business of law in Malaysia from an insider’s perspective.
  30. Paul Kossof – A recent law school graduate — Kossof has already published two books (the first book on China’s new trademark law, and a guide to Chinese legal research) and numerous scholarly articles on Chinese legal practice with a focus on intellectual property and business law.

If there’s anyone else you believe is essential to follow in the Asia-Pacific legal markets this year, please add them in the comments section below.  Here’s to a happy and healthy 2015.

Posted by John Grimley

John Grimley edits and publishes Asia Law Portal

6 Comments

  1. Nice list. Greetings from Nee Zealand. Not sure about Dan Harris being at #2 though. He’s based in Seattle, not Asia, is restricted to China and his blog mainly comments on other lawyers work and commentary – not his own. He does hearsay and “comments about comments” rather than real law intelligence and doesn’t have offices in the Asia region, his own work is subcontracted to local Asia firms to perform. He’s a middle man, not a bona fide contender. But otherwise its a list of the great and the good and interesting to see and I agree with most.

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  2. David – thanks for your message. I picked Dan Harris of Harris & Moure pllc because his commentary on China Law issues is widely recognized as very helpful to foreign businesses doing business in China. Harris’ blog, China Law Blog, is consistently named to the American Lawyer Blog 100 (a list of America’s top 100 law blogs). Too, Harris is a regular columnist on China law for Forbes Magazine, among others. His law firm has two affiliated offices in China.

    Also, I selected other commentators who are focused on one market within the Asia-Pacific Legal Markets. For example, Eddie Law, #29, focuses on Malaysia. Timothy Langley #16, focuses on Japan, Sean Hayes #20, focuses on Korea.

    Some experts I listed are not based in Asia. But their commentary and insight, nonetheless, is essential to understanding the region’s legal business environment.

    Yun Kriegler, #3, is based in London. Kriegler is in my opinion the leading observer of the Asia-Pacific legal markets. Aland Hodgart #11, is also London-based. Hodgart’s scholarship on the growth of the region’s legal market has laid the foundations for the recent understanding of the size and scope of the market. Paul Kossof #30, is Chicago-based. His scholarship focused on China law at such an early age merits his inclusion – as from my research – he has no peer doing the same.

    What this list does is demonstrate that those lawyers and legal services professionals who become active and engaged in discussions via blogging or publishing articles in newspapers – or engagement via Twitter or YouTube – goes a very long way in getting them noticed, mentioned, discussed – not just by observers of the market like me – but by clients as well. My blog focuses on the business of law in the region. And an integral part of the business of law in the region – is effective marketing and business development. Just the other day, well-know legal public relations consultancy Jaffe PR published a blogpost outlining, among other things, that law firms in 2014 “that published high-quality, thoughtful content saw website traffic soar.” And these efforts translate into attention from other bloggers, other lawyers, legal media and clients.

    I would encourage you and other colleagues to consider publishing a law blog dedicated to the New Zealand legal market. You firm Wong & Bong Law Office Ltd. in Auckland (http://www.wongbonglaw.co.nz/ – according to your Avatar) – does not appear to have a blog. I’d strongly encourage you to found one. #1 on the list is Chris Devonshire-Ellis, whose firm, Dezan Shira, publishes a superb blog covering the regions legal market and the business considerations companies will have in the region. Your home market New Zealand is an ideal market for foreign direct investment and a superb hub for foreign companies seeking a base of operations in the Asia-Pacific Region. It would be my pleasure to list a blog you establish on my blogroll and promote your blogposts and help increase your exposure among the audience that follows Asia Law Portal.

    Thank you again for your insight on the 30 people to watch. While we may disagree about my including Dan Harris on this list – I’m glad we do agree for the most part on the rest of the list. All the best, John

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  3. Yup it’s just that Dan Harris doesn’t have a real presence in China. He’s a middle man based out of Seattle and neither he or his firm are registered to practice law in China. Let’s get that distinction right and understood before you include him amongst the individuals and firms who have got properly licensed and are qualified to comment in Asia. There is a big difference in commitment there. Harris is noisy yes, and his law blog is well known but he is not a China lawyer. He also tends to comment on other lawyers comments then pass the entire work off as all his own expertise – something that has upset a lot of qualified China lawyers who are licensed to practice. It is not an entirely honest way of promoting oneself and I’m sure other China lawyers listed here would agree. He has upset rather a lot of people in China due to this.
    Otherwise thanks for the suggestion about the Kiwi law blog, and your other recommendations I’ll discuss with my partners. And keep up the grand work!

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  4. John thank you very much for this accolade. We work very hard through our firm (www.dezshira.com) as well as our Asia websites (www.asiabriefing.com and http://www.aseanbriefing.com) to bring Asia legal and regulatory intelligence to the market, whoever they may be – potential clients, law academics and international media as well as including our competitors LOL! Thanks are due actually to our editorial and marketing staff as well, I cannot take all the credit. However we’re very pleased with your recognition of our hard work and wish you and your readers all the best for 2015.
    Best wishes
    Chris

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    1. thanks very much Chris. Your blogs are excellent reads – so I’m very glad to be able to list them and for the opportunity to regularly read them. All the best, John

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  5. When working in Asia, your effectiveness as a legal practitioner is often in reverse proportion to one’s profile, ie the more one blows one’s trumpet, the less effective one becomes on the ground for obvious reasons.

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