5 key trends appear to be shaping the Asia-Pacific Region’s legal markets in 2015 and are worth paying close attention to as the year progresses.  Here they are:

Increased M&A Activity — In an interview this week, Herbert Smith Freehills (@HSFlegal) Partner Rebecca Maslen-Stannage discussed the strength of M&A activity in Australia and Asia-Pacific in 2014 and prospects for 2015.  She explained there was a 20% increase in M&A in Australia in 2014 and 30 deals of 1B or above last year in the APAC Region.  Maslen-Stannage projects an excellent 2015 for M&A across the region.

ASEAN Integration — According to new reports from Baker & McKenzie (@bakermckenzie) and the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) (@TheEIU): “By 2015, the 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia,Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam) aim to create an ASEAN Economic Community – a single market and production base that stitches together the bloc’s 10 economies into a coherent whole, becoming the world’s ninth largest economy at USD1.8 trillion.”  Importantly, as the reports outlines, multinational business are re-thinking their ASEAN strategy as a result.  Eugene Lim, Head of Asia Pacific Trade & Commerce at Baker & McKenzie is interviewed here by Conventus Law (@ConventusLaw) about what businesses need to know about the upcoming ASEAN Economic Community. This is a clear opportunity for the region’s law firms.

Competition for Lucrative Arbitration Work — According to recent reports in Asian Legal Business (@ALB_Magazine), arbitration in Asia is increasing rapidly as an optimal means by which to resolve the increased number of disputes in the region resulting from increased trade.  Hong Kong and Singapore are in increasingly heated competition to serve as a venue for these disputes.  Watch also the China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission (CIETAC)Kuala Lumpur Regional Centre for Arbitration (KLRCA), The Korean Commercial Arbitration Board (KCAB) and others as they compete for the increasing amount of arbitration work in the region.  Be sure to follow Ben Rigby (@Bert_Digby), Editor of Commercial Dispute Resolution (CDR), for in-depth news coverage of this topic.

Competitive Pressures Among Various Legal Services Providers — While the region’s legal markets are seeing tremendous growth (APAC legal market size between 2012 and 2022 will double), the competition for work among a variety of service providers including BigLaw, NewLaw, domestic incumbent law firms and regional boutiques, as well as Legal Process Outsourcing Companies (LPO’s), the Big4 accounting firms and ambitious Alternative Business Structure (ABS) firms is bound to increase this year and in the years ahead.  In-depth analysis of this competition can be found on Beaton Capital Blog.

Opportunity Created by Regional Infrastructure Development — McKinsey & Company (@McKinseyestimated in 2011 that Southeast Asia Infrastructure development would be worth $8 trillion (USD) during the course of this decade “to remedy historical underinvestment and accommodate the explosion in demand.”  A clearly profound opportunity for law firms seeking to serve the legal needs of those companies who might secure the work associated with this infrastructure boom.  Not a day goes by without more news of more projects.  The best regional source of daily information about this development is the Twitter feed of Australia-based legal business development professional Richard Smith (@RWS_01).

Posted by John Grimley

John Grimley specializes in the provision of writing and research services to the corporate and professional services sectors. He is the author of A Comprehensive Guide to the Asia-Pacific Legal Markets. He also edits and publishes Asia Law Portal. For over 15 years he has helped lawyers grow their practices internationally. Most notably, he established and directed the European representative business development office of US AmLaw 100 law and public policy firm Patton Boggs LLP. In 2016, Dr. George Beaton of Australia’s Beaton Capital called him the “foremost exponent” of the concept of the sales function in BigLaw firms. 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. He can be reached at: Email: jg@asialawportal.com, Tel: +1 (213) 814-2855 and Skype: JohnGrimley

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