Six months after retiring from her position as managing partner for Asia at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Ruth Markland has joined the board of Standard Chartered as a non-executive director. In directorial circles in Britain, high ranking professionals who join boards of public companies refer to themselves as 'going public'.

Markland had been a partner with Freshfields since 1983 and had run the Asian office since 1996. During her time at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in Asia, she saw the firm rise to the very top of the financial legal world. Indeed in 2002, the firm won FinanceAsia's award for Best Financial Law Firm.

Joining Markland on the bank's board is Paul Skinner who is chairman of Rio Tinto plc. "I am delighted that Ruth and Paul will be joining us," says Bryan Sanderson, Chairman of Standard Chartered. "Ruth has great experience in Asia - where she has worked for much of the past 22 years - and a deep understanding of the regulatory environment." Could it be that Standard Chartered is planning some major moves which will require the kind of top level legal advice that Markland could offer? Certainly, recent news reports that Tan Sri Khoo Teck Puat's 14% stake in the bank is up for sale have sent the bank's shares skywards, even though the bank has been the perennial subject of merger rumours for many years, (indeed since Tan Sri Khoo first bought his stake in the early 1990s). Perhaps Markland will be able to offer some legal advice on the whole subject.