COVID-19 has impacted the legal industry globally, and offshore law firms have not been immune. However, they have used the past several months to embrace change and transform themselves, and as a result, are well-placed to tap into the potential of the year ahead.
Fintech in Indonesia is rapidly growing, buoyed by a young population, quick Internet adoption, and innovative new businesses. However, lawyers say that policies and regulations need to keep up with this growth, so as to ensure business innovation continues and customers are not left out in the cold.
With a most unique year winding to a close, law firm leaders in Singapore look back on some of the lessons they learnt, and also the ways they put both clients and employees in focus during a difficult time.
Despite a raging pandemic, in the first half of 2020, the Hong Kong IPO market outperformed last year, boasting 64 new listings with funds raised reaching $87.5 billion, according to PwC. Based on KPMG data, at the end of the third quarter, Hong Kong ranks third globally in terms of IPO fundraising and number of listings in the year to date. In part, this upward trajectory is due to the trend of U.S.-listed China-based companies carrying out secondary listings in Hong Kong, and this trend is continuing to gather steam.
Georgia Dawson, Asia managing partner at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, was recently named as the firm’s new senior partner. This made her the first woman to lead the firm in its lengthy history, and also made Freshfields the first Magic Circle firm to appoint a female leader. She tells Asian Legal Business about her plans to transform the storied firm.
Telecom giant Vodafone Group recently won an international arbitration case against the Indian government, bringing one the country’s most high-profile disputes — a $2 billion tax claim — to a close. According to an international arbitration tribunal in The Hague, India’s government has breached an investment treaty agreement between India and the Netherlands with its imposition of tax liability on Vodafone, Reuters reported. The tribunal has directed India to pay $5.47 million to Vodafone in compensation for its legal costs.
Corporate Japan’s lack of gender diversity is a widely known issue. While investors and the government have been pushing for greater female representation on company boards, women-only reportedly represent just six percent of board members at listed Japanese companies today, even though it represents a modicum of progress compares to three percent back in 2016.
During a year unlike any other, the pressure has been on in-house lawyers to lead their teams through uncharted territory. But it’s not just about the work — lawyers are also ensuring their staff emerge ready to tackle an increasingly challenging legal landscape.
With the fallout from corporate scandals, rapid globalisation, increased focus on corporate governance, advancement in technology and data protection, the role of a general counsel has gained significant importance. Several years ago, the role of a general counsel was perceived to be a lifestyle-friendly prelude to retirement or sometimes, in the case of a woman, a role which she would transition to once she got married or had children, since it was perceived to support a work-home balance and did not have the long hours synonymous with a law firm practice.
With COVID-19 keeping lawyers at home and making face-to-face meetings difficult, in-house legal teams have had to embrace technology like never before. Legal department leaders say that this is not a passing phase; tech will be a critical component of their work long after the pandemic subsides.
In light of Facebook’s recent controversies, as well as the online activism related to the Sushant Singh Rajput case, is it time for India to pass specific legislation regulating content posted on social media, and perhaps even create a regulatory authority?