S'porean-run NY law firm on global list

A LAW firm founded by a Singaporean and based in New York has been placed alongside five other top Singapore law firms on a prestigious global list of 100 arbitration practices.

The 2014 edition of the GAR 100, which is published by the London-based Global Arbitration Review, was released last week at a Paris gala event.

The firms for the GAR 100 are identified by researchers based on audits of work volume, reputation and experience.

The list serves as a global reference for clients seeking the best firms for arbitration and comes at a time when settlement of global cross-border disputes through arbitration is on the rise.

Leading the pack are international firms Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and White & Case.

Singapore law firms on the list comprise Drew & Napier, Wong Partnership, Rajah & Tann, Allen & Gledhill and Rodyk & Davidson.

They do corporate work, general litigation and other areas of law in addition to arbitration.

Among these giants sits a small firm based in New York founded and run by Singaporean Dan Tan which specialises solely in arbitration.

Dan Tan Law may be a David among Goliaths in terms of the number of lawyers, but Mr Tan says: “The cases we handle are higher value on an average basis, and we arbitrate cases all over the world, not just in Singapore.”

Mr Tan, 40, had practised in New York for 10 years before he started the firm three years ago.

He is the only Singaporean law professor currently at Stanford Law School.

He also lectures at Harvard University. In June, he will teach at Singapore Management University as well.

The New York firm, which opened a branch in San Francisco last year, also set up a fully-licensed affiliate Singapore law firm, FocusLaw, which is headed by Singaporean Shem Khoo. 

“We opened up an office in Singapore because we have been doing a lot of hearings in Asia over the past few years and wanted to serve our US clients better when they are arbitrating cases in Asia,” said Mr Tan.

“We also wanted to be closer to our Asian clients and to be the first Singapore firm that focuses on international arbitration.”

In its first six months of action, the firm successfully settled an arbitration in California for 10 times what the client was previously offered to settle the case, according to the GAR 100 report.

It is also representing the Palestinian Water Authority in what is said to be the first Uncitral (United Nations Commission on International Trade Law) arbitration under Palestinian law.

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