Dougan is NewLaw’s pioneer in Asia
Kirsty Dougan co-founded NewLaw in Asia in late 2009 and last month, after almost a decade in the sector, she joined Pinsent Masons flexible NewLaw unit Vario as Managing Director for Asia. Dougan will be based in a new office in Hong Kong. The firm also has a presence in Australia and Singapore.
Dougan pioneered the NewLaw business model in Asia when she began her own NewLaw firm in Hong Kong more than 10 years ago. That firm was later acquired by Axiom over 8 years ago – and Dougan served as Managing Director there until recently. She began her Asia-Pacific region career as Regional Counsel for Diageo based in Shanghai.
On why she’s joined Vario
In explaining her move to Vario as Head of Asia, Dougan said: “I’m very Impressed by the path they’re on. It’s a vision from the very top of Pinsent Masons. The firm has a big ambition for Vario which has already grown significantly and gained good market share in the UK in a relatively short period of time. The chance for me to direct a NewLaw business again but this time with a strong law firm platform, which provides infrastructure and key support, was a challenge I was very pleased to assume!”.
On Vario’s goals for the region
Asked about Vario’s goals for the Asia-Pacific region, Dougan explained that “Vario has a true vision and ambition for Asia-Pacific and is prepared to invest heavily in the region and my mandate is to deliver on that. We also want to expand, in time, into different markets within the region. We want to expand into key markets like Japan, Korea, and Vietnam, markets not yet regularly served by the NewLaw model. But not in year one! We first have a business to build in Singapore, Hong Kong and grow Australia. There is absolutely client demand in the region but the challenge is of course finding the right calibre of lawyers who want to work flexibly”.
On the state of NewLaw in Asia in 2019
Asked about the state of NewLaw in Asia in 2019, Dougan said she believe it’s “now very well established which is not to be underestimated given the conservatism in the profession in this region. NewLaw is an efficient, smart, innovative way to manage spend and legal departments. There was a stigma in NewLaw’s early years about flexible work-life balance but that is long gone and secondments are now viewed as a very clever way of working. This is all positive and exciting for NewLaw in the region. Is there room for new entrants? Of course but the business needs to be managed carefully ideally by a team who have worked in the legal profession in Asia and it needs to be understood differently from traditional professional services”.
On joining Vario and the future ahead
Joining Pinsent Masons Vario has also been something of a homecoming for Dougan, as she trained as a junior lawyer in Glasgow with Alastair Morrison, a member of Pinsent Mason’s Board, and Global Head of Client Strategy.
“Pinsent Masons”, Dougan concluded, “is a law firm on a mission and a path to greater legal services innovation in services to our clients. As Vario’s new Head of Asia, I’m delighted to be a part of this mission and will bring the best available NewLaw services to clients in the Asia-Pacific region”.