The past year in the Asia-Pacific legal markets was distinguished by a number of trends, including regional expansion by Japanese law firms amid economic growth in China and the rest of the region, an expanding focus on health, wellness, and personal branding for lawyers and legal professionals, improving a technology-enabled law practice, including the increased utilization of remote work, the rise of differentiated boutique legal practices amid increased locally and regionally competitive markets, the continued rise of social media-driven alternative legal media and information platforms, the addition of more NewLaw providers to the market, and the continued adaptation by law firms and legal alliances to an economically growing Asia-Pacific region. With these trends in mind, here are 30 people who are playing integral roles in these trends, and hence, are 30 people to watch in the business of law in Asia in 2021:

  1. Adeline Chin, Founder & CEO, Law Asia 365, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia — Beginning in 2012, Adeline Chin launched a career as a legal knowledge management (KM) expert while working within a leading Malaysian law firm.  This experience ultimately led her to found Law Asia 365, a comprehensive legal KM and management consultancy, based in Kuala Lumpur. In an interview with Asia Law Portal, Chin detailed her extensive experience in legal tech and legal innovation both in Malaysia and the wider APAC region, and her predictions for the future of the region’s legal tech and innovation ecosystem.  Chin is also a Co-Founder of LawTech Malaysia and a Steering Committee Member of Asia-Pacific Legal Innovation & Technology Association (ALITA).  In this YouTube interview with Startups Zone, Chin explains the inspiration for her focus on legal technology.
  2. Namita Shah, Co-founder, Presolv360, Mumbai, India — In 2017, Namita Shah Co-founded Mumbai-based Presolv360, an online alternative to traditional dispute resolution systems.  In an interview with Asia Law Portal, she explained Presolv360’s services offer and detailed her extensive involvement in the ongoing expansion of legal technology and legal innovation in India. Shah is also Co-Founder of LegalTech.Asia, which she describes as: “energising a movement of legal innovation, entrepreneurship and technology”.
  3. Sue Kench, Global Chief Executive, King & Wood Mallesons (KWM), Hong Kong, China SAR – Kench “leads the development and implementation of the firm’s international strategy and is responsible for integrating the firm’s international operations.”  KWM is Asia-based and as of March 2015 is the largest law firm headquartered outside the US or the EU. When asked in August, 2020 how the “Asian Century” is impacting legal services, Kench told Asia Law Portal:  “Asia, and the individual economies that make up the region, play a key role in the global economy and their influence and impact is increasing exponentially, particularly as growth in other markets become more limited….To succeed, law firms will need to deliver a mix of legal expertise, commercial acumen, local knowledge and strong business relationships.”
  4. Andrew King, Founder, LegalTech Hub, Auckland, New ZealandAndrew King is one of the core connectors of the legal tech industry in New Zealand. The founder of LegalTechHub (a portal for legal tech in NZ), the founder of e-discovery and legal innovation consultancies, and the organizing force behind LawFest NZ.  In an April 2020 interview with Asia Law Portal, King detailed the state of legal innovation in New Zealand.
  5. Maurice L Rabb, Esq., Legal Tech Evangelist, Law Professor & Legal Recruiter, Hong Kong, China SAR – Rabb organized the first ever Legal Tech Hackathon in Tokyo, along with LexisNexis Japan, which took place in the fall of 2019, as ArtificialLawyer detailed. An American lawyer and Adjunct Professor of Law at Temple University in Tokyo, Rabb has specialized in legal recruitment in the Tokyo and Hong Kong legal markets for some time.  He’s also the Founder & Managing Editor of LegalTech Japan, and a founding Steering Committee Member of the Asia-Pacific Legal Innovation and Technology Association (ALITA). In an interview with KV Labs, Rabb detailed The Rise of Legal Tech in Japan.  Rabb is also a personal development & career coach, and diversity and inclusion advocate.
  6. Jaayaa A Kumarr, Associate General Manager, Strategy & Development at J. Sagar Associates, Mumbai, India — Kumarr heads Marketing, Communication and Business Development at J. Sagar Associates in Mumbai. She has more than 10 years of experience in the legal marketing profession and as a qualified lawyer. In a recent interview with Asia Law Portal, she details the unique challenges and opportunities to marketing and business development for law firms in India in 2020.
  7. Michael Lew, COO, Rajah & Tann Technologies, Singapore —  Lew is a Founding Board Member of the ASEAN Legal Tech Association (ALT) and co-author of the book: A Practical Guide to E-Discovery in Asia.  In 2017, he founded AI-driven legaltech startup LegalComet, which was acquired by Rajah & Tann Technologies in 2018.
  8. Hiroko Nakamura, Anderson Mori & Tomotsune, Hong Kong, China SAR – As Nikkei Asia detailed in September 2020: “Big Japanese law firms are expanding operations related to China on expectations corporate demand for their services will keep growing despite the country’s tightening control over Hong Kong and U.S. sanctions on the world’s second-largest economy. They are doing so by taking steps such as establishing offices in Hong Kong and also leveraging their presence and expertise in other Asian locations… Nakamura, a Hong Kong-based lawyer with Anderson, opened the firm’s de facto office there in November last year.”
  9. Katsuro Tanaka, Senior Managing Partner, TMI Associates, Tokyo, Japan — TMI Associates is one of Japan’s five largest law firms with offices in Beijing and Shanghai – and is among the Japanese law firms focused on the Chinese economy as Japanese corporates expand business operations there, China’s outbound investment in Japan increases, and as recent tensions between the US and China have increased. Notably, TMI’s “China-related legal services”, as Asia Nikkei details, “have logged yearly revenue gains of 20% to 30%.” As Tanaka told Asia Nikkei in September 2020: “We want to hire lawyers and experts in Tokyo fluent in Chinese and capable of arranging investment in Japan by Chinese companies as they are expected to again start paying attention to Japan amid the U.S.-China cold war.” 
  10. Jiang Fengwen, Senior VP and Senior expert, docQbot, Beijing, China – Fengwen recently left a role as Sr. VP-Region General Counsel and Head of Legal & Integrity-Asia, Middle East and Africa (AMEA) at ABB (China) Limited – to join, as InHouseCommunity detailed in November 2020: “AI legal solutions provider docQbo, the leading provider of technology-supported legal solutions in China”.  Fengwen told InHouse Community: “I was attracted to docQbot because of my great interest and prior achievements in legal digitisation and contract standardisation (as stated above), and I view my new role as Senior VP and Senior expert at docQbot as the continuation of that work, and as an opportunity to further legal AI development and leadership. In this role, I help the in-house corporate law departments to design and implement legal-tech solutions utilising docQbot’s cutting edge tools.”
  11. Rajen Ramiah, Consultant, SCL Nishimura, Bangkok, Thailand – In August 2019, Thailand’s SCL Group merged with Japanese law firm Nishimura & Asahi, creating SCL Nishimura.  The deal created, as the firm website details: “one of Thailand’s largest Japanese law firms, as well as one of the largest, well-resourced and most diverse international business law practices in Southeast Asia.”  As the firm website also details: “Ramiah joined SCL Law Group in June 2015 as a Business Development Consultant. To kick-start in his new role, Rajen led efforts in rebranding the Group. With the Group recently celebrating its 10-year anniversary, Rajen was instrumental in the rebranding process, which involved creating a clear and impactful corporate identity for the Group and revamping the website content and design.” 
  12. Roslyn Lai, Editor for Asia-Pacific, The Legal Technologist, Hong Kong, China, SAR – Lai serves both as the Editor for Asia-Pacific for the Legal Technologist and Co-Founder of legal technology startup Let’s Chat Law. In The Legal Technologist, Lai regularly profiles some of the leading entrepreneurs in legal technology in the Asia-Pacific region. Let’s Chat Law is a “bi-monthly chat for legal-focused topics, ranging from job applications to contemporary legal developments. This is the #lawgram chat for aspiring lawyers and legal professionals in the UK”.
  13. Shulin Lee, Director, Legal Recruitment, ANSA Search, Singapore – In 2016, together with seasoned veteran, Helen Ng, Lee set up ANSA Search – a specialist Legal & Compliance Search firm, with a strong focus on the Asian region, mainly in Singapore, Hong Kong and China. When asked about the current state of the Asia-Pacific market in legal and compliance recruitment for a recent interview with Asia Law Portal, Lee explained that: “The market has evolved dramatically, even more so during the pandemic. In our line of work, we have seen clients adopt the use of technology in ways which were previously unimaginable.”
  14. Nisha Chugh, Head of Legal & Compliance, ConnectedGroup, Hong Kong, China, SAR. Chugh has been in recruitment for over 13 years after practicing law for 7 years with top international law firms. In her current role, her ambit is Legal & Compliance roles both in private practice and in-house. In a recent interview with Asia Law Portal, Chugh explained that she “Concentrate[s] first on the well-being of lawyers when working with them on career placements…I have noted that [since COVID 19] firms are adapting to work from home and are now learning to be more agile…The development of digital tools has now allowed lawyers to work undisrupted and the client experience seems to remain unfettered.”
  15. Shamila Nair, Co-Founder of Peter Ong & Nair, Singapore – In 2020, Shamila Nair co-founded Peter Ong & Nair, a law firm with a focus on trans-border Malaysia-Singapore legal issues for businesses and individuals. In a recent interview with Asia Law Portal, Shamila outlined the key opportunities and challenges in operating a new boutique legal practice.
  16. Sania Husaini, Lawyer & Principal Consultant, Commwiser Consulting Editor, LawWiser, South Delhi, India – As Commwiser’s website details: “Sania is a lawyer who puts her legal knowledge to use while creating high impact litigation and dispute communications campaigns. She is also a guiding force in shaping directions of law firm marketing campaigns. She actively leads client campaigns and is also well-versed with social media. Before being a ‘communicator’, she was litigating with one of the best-known law firms in India and a prominent advocate. She also worked as a Research Assistant to former Supreme Court Judges. Sania is an avid reader and loves to research and find interesting stories.”
  17. Clinton Swan, Co-founder of Codelex Legaltech; Member of the Legaltech Advisory Council for the Astana International Financial Centre; Faculty Member of the Legal Technology & Innovation Institute; and Orchestrator of the Legaltech Product Channel group on Linkedin, Singapore – As Swan details on his LinkedIn profile: “Following 12 years on the management team of Clyde & Co, a large international law firm, helping drive establishment and significant build-out of the business and networks across the Middle East and Asia / Indo Pacific regions respectively… [I have been] helping out with and building out a number of start-up and legaltech projects [across Asia and] mentor[ing] a handful of professional services business development managers and executives.”
  18. Miriam Shastri, Managing Director, TOP Beraten Malaysia Sdn Bhd, Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia – Shastri heads up a hybrid law and trade consulting firm where she “offer[s her] expertise across the whole spectrum of Malaysian market entry, corporate services, management advisory, legal, tax, IT consulting and accounting.” As Shastri details on her LinkedIn profile: “Having grown up between two continents, intercultural dialogue and cooperation have always been at the core of my being. My career as well as life experiences have successfully contributed to my adaptability, diplomacy, and world citizenship. Educated in British and German law, I have developed analytical and problem-solving skills which complement the array of my other capabilities.”
  19. Renita Sophia Crasta, Group Legal Counsel at Temasek Infrastructure Companies: CapitaLand-Ascendas, Singapore – In a recent interview with Asia Law Portal, Crasta detailed some of the opportunities and challenges in-house counsel are now facing in these changing Covid-19 times. Among the things she told us in that interview: “Many in-house counsels like myself, have therefore also had the opportunity to be brought into conversations on many of the emerging trends, as well as how businesses may evolve to future-proof ourselves better. Along with that, many in-house counsels, including at our company, have also been taking the opportunity to digitalise much of the work that we do”. Notably, Crasta has been active in elderly, women and migrant worker causes during this Covid period with the Covid Migrant Support Coalition, Young Women Leadership Connection, Love our Elderly SG, the Alzheimer’s Disease Association, and more.
  20. Christy CL Ng, Legal Data Consultant / ISDA Negotiator, D2 Legal Technology LLP, Hong Kong, China SAR – As her LinkedIn profile details: Ng “is a legal technologist with a particular focus on the digitalization of financial services and derivatives documentation negotiations. She has been involved in various projects to structure legal data and innovation initiatives within the documentation outfits of major banks. She has a particular research focus and pragmatic interest in vertical AI applications in the legal profession and financial services.She has advised on a range of documentation and innovation initiatives within the derivatives industry and fintech space. She is a consultant at D2 Legal Technology LLP and its Hong Kong subsidiary where she has worked on projects on legal data for machine learning and digitalisation of financial services. She has worked with banks, investment firms, governments, asset managers and law firms in an external and in-house capacity in Toronto, Hong Kong and London. Through her unique experience she has gained a broad picture insight into the current state and upcoming trends in the financial industry from a documentation and legal-tech perspective. She is an author in the LegalTech Book, published by Wiley & The Fintech Circle.  She also detailed her experience in legal tech and innovation in a November 2020 interview with Roslyn Lai in the Legal Technologist.
  21. Stephanie Szeto – Head of Peerpoint Asia (by Allen & Overy), Hong Kong, China SAR – As In-House Community details: “Stephanie Szeto heads up Peerpoint’s business in Asia. She has over 15 years’ experience in strategic business roles at top-tier international law firms and is passionate about working with legal professionals on their career development, and finding solutions to clients’ business needs. Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Stephanie moved to Hong Kong in 2008.”  Szeto was recently interviewed about her view of “legal consulting in uncertain times” in Hong Kong Lawyer.
  22. Stuart Fuller, Head of Global Legal Services, KPMG International and Partner and Asia Pacific Regional Leader for Legal Services, KPMG Australia, Hong Kong, China SAR – KPMG recently announced the launch of a new Global Legal Operations Transformation Service.  In a recent interview with Asia Law PortalStuart Fuller, Head of Global Legal Services, KPMG International, explained this new service focus — and the firm’s plans for expansion in the Asia-Pacific region.
  23. Tahirah Ara, Managing Partner, Singapore and Head of Asia, Mishcon de Reya, SingaporeTahirah Ara was recently appointed Managing Partner of the Singapore office of Mischon de Reya, the firm’s newly opened first office in Asia.  In a recent interview with Asia Law Portal, Ara explained the firm’s goals for Asia, and how it plans to compete in Singapore’s highly competitive legal market. She also detailed her practice focus on cross-border M&A and finance, and the firm’s provision of comprehensive strategic legal services to wealthy families and individuals.
  24. Jacky Liu, Co-Founder, LegalClarus, Hong Kong, China SAR – As Roslyn Lai details in the Legal Technologist: “Jacky Liu is a co-founder of LegalClarus, a Hong Kong startup that aims to connect and match lawyers to clients on its machine-learning powered platform. LegalClarus aims to bring further clarity, transparency and digitalization to the legal industry by making legal services more accessible and affordable, whilst creating more business opportunities for all legal professionals.”
  25. Lee Eng Beng, Senior Partner, Rajah & Tann, Singapore / Chairperson, Rajah & Tann Asia, Singpore – In a recent interview with Prisca Akhaya T, on e27, Beng is identified as: “one of the pioneers in the legal tech front in Southeast Asia”.  He spoke to e27 about Lupl, an open industry platform for legal matters (of which Rajah & Tann supports) that came from a collective frustration of functionality overlaps in new legal tech solutions. Beng told e27: “[T]he digitisation that the sector has seen has been nothing but crowded and overlapping in its functionality” – and that “[t]he new technology has been causing frustration among legal departments and law firms when it shouldn’t be the case. This fragmentation of technologies has created a pressing need for a platform that enables clients and lawyers to have a cohesive single view of all legal matters.”
  26. Matt Murphy, Managing Partner, MMLC Group, Beijing, China – As China-focused boutique MMLC Group’s website details: “Matthew has over 20 years of China and Asia Pacific legal and business experience, focusing on Intellectual Property, Mergers & Acquisitions (including anti-trust) and International Trade. Matthew has been listed as a leading corporate/IP lawyer by various publishers such as Euromoney, Chambers and the Legal 500 and is an arbitrator (MCIArb) with the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre, the Beijing Arbitration Commission, Asian International Arbitration Centre and CIETAC. Matthew is a regular contributor of articles on Chinese and IP law to major journals, and regularly teaches international IP and technology law at the post-graduate level at a number of leading universities.” Murphy and MMLC Group both frequently comment with prescient updates on corporate legal issues related to China.
  27. Sarah Mateljan, Co-Founder & Director at LawCPD & CourseGenius, Perth, Australia – As Mateljan details on her LinkedIn profile: I’m the co-founder of two tech startups – LawCPD and CourseGenius. LawCPD was the first company to provide online CPD to lawyers on any device – smartphone, desktop or tablet – and continues to be an industry leader. CourseGenius was launched to make the custom online learning platform created for LawCPD accessible to a wider range of industries and organisations. CourseGenius is now one of the leading online learning platforms used by organisations to train their staff or to sell courses to the broader public.” Mateljian detailed her thoughts about legal technology use among lawyers in a recent article on Asia Law Portal.
  28. Fazlin Azrimi, Co-Founder, MY Women Legal Counsel Association (MWLEC), Kuala Lumpur, MalaysiaMY Women Legal Counsel Association (MWLEC) is a nonprofit association with the aim of providing support and useful insights to female in-house counsels in Malaysia, in order to help them advance in their chosen careers and increase their marketability. In a recent interview with Asia Law Portal, Azrimi explained the inspiration that led her to help women lawyers in Malaysia achieve their professional and personal objectives.
  29. Ning Zhu, Managing Partner, Chance Bridge Partners, Beijing, China – As Alliott Global Alliance recently detailed on Asia Law Portal: “Ning Zhu, Managing Partner of highly regarded law firm Chance Bridge Partners in China has been appointed to the Asia Pacific Regional Advisory Committee of Alliott Global Alliance, one of the world’s largest international alliances of independent law and accounting firms. Ms. Zhu joins other senior partners from some of the region’s leading independent law and accounting firms on the committee. Alliott Global Alliance has member firms in 80 countries, including in 15 countries across Asia Pacific… With a focus primarily on capital markets, cross border investment, M&A and financing, Ms. Zhu is highly experienced both domestically and internationally in representing clients in many large-value cases involving corporate governance, venture capital and equity markets… Ms. Zhu joins the region’s leadership team at a time of strong alliance growth in the region. Chance Bridge Partners became the alliance’s first law firm member in China when they joined the alliance in April 2020. As a regional committee member, Ms Zhu will play an important part in helping to develop and monitor the implementation of the alliance’s strategic plans and will also help to create innovation in the region which will bind members closer together and advance the alliance’s value proposition.”
  30. Daniel Lo, Creator, LegalGrounds.Asia, Singapore — Daniel is a Singapore-based private equity lawyer and a proud Canadian.  In a recent interview with Asia Law Portal, he explains what inspired his career focus and why he enjoys working in-house. He also explains how he helps young lawyers plan a career path, his views on the importance of lawyer wellness, and the importance of personal branding for lawyers. Lo also recently created LegalGrounds.Asia — a “private [networking] community created exclusively for the Singapore legal market”.

Posted by Asia Law Portal

A forum for discussion of news, information & opportunity in the Asia-Pacific legal markets.

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