Foreign Firms Trim Their Singapore Offices

The Singapore Business Times is reporting..

That  Foreign law firms in the city state are trimming headcount, freezing salaries and asking staff to work fewer hours.

‘We are currently undergoing an evaluation of our partnership, which will result in a reduction in the number of partners, commensurate with current and anticipated business needs,’ said Nicholas Clarke, regional media relations manager – Americas, White & Case LLP told the Singapore Business Times

The report goes on to say:

‘The Asian economy is not immune to these forces. However, we are adopting a long-term view for the region,’ said Mr Clarke.


‘It gives the firm flexibility on its overall cost but no one is made redundant,’ said Jeff Smith, head of Norton Rose (Asia).

The scheme, which was voted by 96 per cent of worldwide staff, will allow the firm to ask people to work four days a week on 85 per cent of base salary, or take a sabbatical of 1-3 months at 30 per cent of base salary.

Nobody will get less than 20 per cent of their annual income, said Mr Smith, who also voted for the scheme which starts on May 1.

The flexi-scheme applies worldwide, including the Singapore office, which Mr Smith says is very busy. ‘I would say it will have limited application here,’ he said.

The Singapore office (set up in 1982) has hired more than 10 lawyers over the past year, a handful of them local, Mr Smith said. Norton Rose, a UK-based firm, has over 50 lawyers in its Singapore outfit and is also a QFLP firm.

Local firms say they are benefiting from the redundancies of lawyers who work at some of the branded foreign firms.

‘We’ve got so many applications from those at big international firms like Linklaters, Clifford Chance and Baker & McKenzie,’ said Tan Peng Chin, managing director, Tan Peng Chin LLC.

‘It’s a golden opportunity for us,’ said Mr Tan, whose firm has about 40 lawyers and recently recruited a Singapore-qualified lawyer with 6-7 years’ experience from DLA, one of the largest law firms in the world.

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