Pinsent Masons will launch its NewLaw flexible consulting service, Vario, in Singapore in mid-2018. Vario was first established in the Asia-Pacific region in Australia in July 2017.  The firm reports it is witnessing increased client demand for its flexible lawyer solution globally, including in Asia. In this Q&A interview with Asia Law Portal, Matthew Kay, Director of Vario, explains why Singapore was chosen as Vario’s next locale in Asia, the firm’s unique service offer, and his thoughts on the prospects for future regional growth for Vario:

Why has Vario chosen to expand into Singapore now? Is demand for secondment of lawyers into the GC’s office in Singapore increasing?

This isn’t so much about Vario expanding, this is more about Pinsent Masons expanding the services that it offers into Singapore. Vario is merely one of those services.  Singapore is a forward-thinking, entrepreneurial market which is attracting blue-chip clients from across the globe. These clients are looking for flexible services from their law firm, Vario is one of these services. Ever more frequently our Partners are having discussions around this type of work, so yes, I get a sense that the demand is continuing to rise.

What team will you have in place in Singapore and do you plan to offer additional services beyond secondments of lawyers into the GC’s office?

One of our most experienced team members, Kate Cauldwell-Hunt, has moved from the UK to Singapore to head up the service here. Kate is a qualified lawyer in the UK and has worked for Vario for a number of years. She is joining the Asia-Pac team which includes those already working for Vario in Australia. The Asia-Pac team is then supported by the operations function in the UK. There are plans to grow the Singapore team, once the service is established and as demand requires.

Yes, it’s likely that the Vario service will expand beyond lawyers, as it has done in the UK. For example, it could include paralegals and programme managers.

Recently we’ve seen more new entrants into the Singapore NewLaw market. What is Vario’s unique offer that distinguishes it within the market?

Vario differs in a number of ways.

First, we are deeply ingrained with the other service offerings of the firm, we aren’t a stand-alone organisation. This means when a client works with us, they are receiving a fully integrated law-firm service.

Second, our lawyers are very carefully assessed, this lengthy process sees each Vario selected on criteria around two main themes: their professional capability and the behavioural characteristics. We are looking for high-quality lawyers who are highly flexible, resilient and adhere to the values of Pinsent Mason.

Third, we supply our lawyers with all of the tools that they need to be successful, these include: professional indemnity cover, access to the firm’s knowledge systems & people, professional development and access to high quality legal work.

Do you foresee future potential growth for Vario in other markets in Asia where NewLaw is currently not operating?

We are already seeing demand in other Asian markets and will undoubtedly expand this service into other jurisdictions across Asia. Indeed, we are actively considering a number of other markets.

Posted by John Grimley

John Grimley edits and publishes Asia Law Portal. A writer and editor to the international corporate and professional services sectors, he's the author of: A Comprehensive Guide to the Asia-Pacific Legal Markets (Ark Group, 2014).

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