Deborah Barker named KhattarWong's new managing partner

SINGAPORE- KhattarWong, one of Singapore's biggest law firms, has named Ms Deborah Barker its new managing partner.

She takes over the reins of the 75-strong firm just as it prepares to mark its 40th year in 2014.

Other women who helm or co-helm major law firms are Stamford Law Corporation's Lee Suet Fern and WongPartnership's Rachel Eng. Ms Barker succeeds tax and wealth management law expert Gurbachan Singh, 64, who retired from the firm on Dec 7.

She is one of four children of the late E. W. Barker, a long-serving Law Minister in the Singapore Cabinet under Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.

Ms Barker, called to the Bar in 1976, joined the firm in 1980, when it was a boutique firm handling mainly tax matters, and saw it become a well-established full service firm. She has worked for more than three decades in civil and commercial litigation, acting for a wide range of clients, including banks and multinational corporations.

Among other things, she is currently acting for Kenny Chee and Gary Lim in their appeal to the courts to decide if the anti-gay Section 377A of the Penal Code infringes constitutional rights to equality, life and liberty.

Ms Barker, who is single, said she was "honoured by the confidence that my colleagues have placed in me. It is a huge responsibility to lead one of Singapore's most established legal practices."

Ms Barker, who also leads the firm's litigation and dispute resolution team, expects her reluctance for publicity to be reshaped as she becomes the visible face of the firm. "I can't be as retiring as I would personally like and would have to go out there more, meeting people often and with more calls on my time to manage and maybe even lead, in addition to doing litigation.

"In Singapore, people tend to look for the managing partner whenever they want something, even for a donation.

"There are exciting times ahead and we are looking forward to the new year."

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