Paul Supramaniam has left Lovells in Singapore to join Latham & Watkins. He will be the firm's leading English law partner in the Singapore office and will spearhead a push into English law throughout the region.
Supramanian was Lovell's managing partner in Singapore for more than five years. He has a history of building practices, having built Holman Fenwick and Williams' Singapore corporate practise in the early 1990s before joining Lovells. While at Lovells he also oversaw the establishment of that firm's joint law venture (JLV) with Singapore firm Lee & Lee.
According to Supramaniam, his move coincides with reports that the Singapore government's free trade agreement with the US might include some provisions to allow US firms to practise local law in Singapore, thus by-passing the JLV system, which has been so torturously put together over the last three to four years. Supramaniam stresses that his move is not some opportunistic act to try to take advantage of this but he does admit that it is an interesting dynamic.
His real reason for moving is that the offer from Latham was very attractive. In terms of responsibility he will be charged with building an English law practise in the markets where Latham already operates, namely Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand, as well as bringing with him work in countires less touched by Latham so far, Malaysia, India and Hong Kong.
He states that Latham has very sucessfully built up a strong European network of offices over the past few years and it wants to replicate that in Asia. He does admit however, that his new employer has no plans to put together a JLV in Singapore.