Law firm leaders look to the future
We’ll send you a myFT Daily Digest email rounding up the latest Legal services news every morning.
Building businesses and maintaining momentum, post-pandemic, requires leaders with a blend of empathy, dynamism and vision. And all the individuals profiled here demonstrate this — from Yash Rana in founding the Asian business of a US law firm, to Pallavi Shroff in consolidating one of India’s top law firms out of a break-up.
However, the winning leader, Warren Hua, stands out for his efforts to modernise Chinese law firm JunHe, and pushing it to embrace two of the biggest challenges facing legal practice today: smart knowledge sharing and environmental, social and governance matters.
Profiles compiled by RSGI researchers and FT editors. “Winner” indicates an Innovative Lawyers 2023 award, the rest are in alphabetical order.
Winner: Warren Hua, managing partner, JunHe
As a managing partner for three years and a member of the management committee since 2015, Warren Hua stands out for his work in modernising the Chinese law firm. Using his digital skills and experience as a partner at French law firm Gide Loyrette Nouel, Hua has had direct involvement in designing technology products at JunHe.
These include the associate appraisal system, which monitors task allocation and meeting of targets, and improving the firm’s knowledge management system.
One of his key achievements is setting up “mega groups” to connect practice areas and give clients joined-up advice on topics such as environmental, social and governance matters, and compliance.
Yash Rana, Asia chair, co-chair private equity group, Goodwin Procter
It is not always easy for lawyers to operate globally, but Yash Rana has proved to clients he can work effectively across regions, from Asia to North America.
Over the past 15 years, Rana has built Goodwin Procter’s Asia presence, with offices in Hong Kong and Singapore, which have a combined headcount of around 50 lawyers.
Leveraging the firm’s expertise across a range of sectors, he has created dynamic private equity and corporate finance practices in the region. Revenue for the firm’s Asia-Pacific practice has risen by more than 50 per cent in the past three years.
Patrick Ang, managing partner, Rajah & Tann Singapore
Since his appointment in 2019, Patrick Ang has focused on promoting young lawyers into leadership roles, which he says keeps the firm vibrant and dynamic. The majority of people on the executive committee are now in their early to mid-forties, which is unusual for law firms worldwide.
Each member is tasked with advancing a specific strategic goal for the firm. Under Ang’s leadership, the firm has pursued expansion, and invested in offices in Vietnam and Indonesia, which have seen double-digit revenue growth in the past two years despite the impact of the pandemic.
Pallavi Shroff, co-managing partner, Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas
When Indian law firm Amarchand & Mangaldas & Suresh A Shroff split in 2015, Pallavi Shroff had a lead role in establishing and expanding Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas (SAM), alongside husband Shardul Shroff and co-managing partner Akshay Chudusama.
She was responsible for the new firm’s day-to-day operations, including people management, and led the firm’s Covid response to ensure staff and their families had access to hospital beds. Mental wellness programmes are now more robust, she says.
Shroff is also forward-thinking on the digital front, sitting on committees to advise the Indian government on its proposed digital competition law, and ensuring her firm adopts important technologies, such as those that reduce time spent on contract due diligence.
Lloyd Parker, managing partner, Asia-Pacific, Hogan Lovells
After managing the firm’s Tokyo office for 15 years, Lloyd Parker took on the Asia-Pacific region leadership role in 2020. His approach is to consolidate the work of the regional team, which operates as one business, rather than as separate offices.
Parker is passionate about supporting people’s careers and endorses the firm’s passport scheme, which allows associates to be seconded to other international offices for six months.
A tech-savvy practitioner, he is used to solving clients’ problems with innovative approaches such as using bots to automate trademark renewals and apps for clients to manage their global intellectual property portfolios.
Mick Sheehy, partner & Apac leader, NewLaw PwC
Having set up PwC’s NewLaw legal solutions business in Australia in 2020, Mick Sheehy last year designed an accelerator programme to expand NewLaw’s offering across the Asia-Pacific region. Instead of operating on a country-by-country basis, as the Big Four accounting firms tend to do, the programme centralises core activities such as sales, marketing and branding to enable teams to work more effectively together on cross-border projects. In just seven months, PwC has launched NewLaw businesses in eight of the firm’s 12 Asia-Pacific territories, with revenue increasing by more than 50 per cent.