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Local lawyers come out tops

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S'pore-based lawyers make up 52 of 120 in-house counsel in South-east Asia on new Legal 500 list

More than 50 Singapore-based corporate counsel have proven to be among the most influential and innovative in the region, according to an inaugural list by Legal 500.

The country's lawyers made up 52 of the top 120 in-house counsel named in the GC Powerlist: South-east Asia, which featured all Asean countries except Laos.

Singapore has the largest group of lawyers on the list, followed by Malaysia with 16 and Indonesia with 15.

Singapore Press Holdings' (SPH) Ginney Lim, McDonald's Singapore's Faz Hussen, Sentosa Development Corporation's Theresa Low and CapitaLand's Michelle Koh are among the Singapore-based in-house counsel recognised for their outstanding work.

Legal 500 - a global legal rankings publication that has been studying law firms across more than 100 jurisdictions for 29 years - said its research team gathered nominations, and spoke to law firm partners and in-house counsel across the region, before finalising the list.

Selection criteria included those who have developed technical solutions to complex issues and created innovative structures to drive business forward.

"Today, general counsel have a remit that extends well beyond the traditional role of legal advisors," said Mr Dominic Williams, who led the research for the GC Powerlist series.

"They are expected to provide vital input and new strategies for a variety of tasks when conducting business domestically and internationally."

President of the Singapore Corporate Counsel Association (SCCA) Wong Taur-Jiun told The Straits Times yesterday that while this shows that in-house counsel remain in demand, it is crucial not to take the work that the Republic has received for granted.

He said it is crucial "to ensure a large enough talent pool of highly qualified in-house counsel, who are able to work not only in Singapore but anywhere in the region".

The South-east Asia list, which is the first of its kind, was among its latest additions to the GC Powerlist series, which was started about four years ago.

Ms Lim, who has been with the company for about 25 years, was previously named in the Corporate Counsel 100: Asia Pacific list.

Ms Lim, who is also SPH's group company secretary and executive vice-president of corporate communications and corporate social responsibility, said yesterday: "This honour should be attributed to my bosses and colleagues in SPH who have given me their unstinting support and encouragement over the years."

Among those on the new list include Mr Hussen, who is also director of legal, government relations and communications at McDonald's Singapore.

He said: "My role goes far beyond legal and compliance, you need to be someone who helps to grow the business as opposed to just advising."