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Legal firm Dentons makes its presence felt in Myanmar

Jun 04. 2017
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By Khine Kyaw
Myanmar Eleven
Asia News Network

Longterm isolation for nearly six decades will no longer become a barrier for Myanmar’s growth as another international law firm recently entered the market to provide muchneeded legal advice to international companies eyeing the emerging market, according to senior executives of Dentons.

Philip Jeyaretnam, global vice chair and regional chief executive officer of Dentons Rodyk, said in an interview that the firm expanded its presence with the launch of its new office in Yangon on May 31.

“It is logical for us to establish a presence in Myanmar. We are investing in Myanmar in order to better serve our global clients,” he said.

“Myanmar is a major opportunity for business growth in the next five years. Our new team in Yangon will expand our capabilities to provide indepth legal advice to clients who seek to establish and grow their businesses in Myanmar.”

The office was established by Dentons Rodyk, the Singapore branch of the global Dentons network with a team of seven lawyers and staff. The firm now has more than 8,000 lawyers in over 150 offices around the world. 

Jeyaretnam said that the firm was very optimistic about prospects for strong, sustainable economic growth in Myanmar.

“The developing Asean Economic Community provides an excellent framework for the new Myanmar. We intend to grow together with Myanmar,” he said.

Given the better business environment, a number of global law firms including big names like Baker McKenzie and Allen & Overy already had presence in Myanmar. Yet, Jeyaretnam believes the firm’s geographical breadth and strength in depth will set it apart from their rivals.

“Our Canadian and Australian partners who have grown up in resourcerich nations have worldleading experts in mining and environmental law. With our strong offering in Singapore, we can provide timely and responsive back up for our lawyers on the ground in Myanmar,” he said.

Mark Livingston, resident partner of Dentons, said his team had a deep understanding of the nation’s regulatory and business environment.

“We will work very closely with our colleagues in Singapore. We will also establish a regular secondment programme to let Singaporean lawyers work in our Yangon office and gain experience and exposure to the Myanmar market, as well as sending our Myanmar lawyers to Singapore for additional training in international law and practice,” he said.

Beyond support out of Singapore, the office will have the ability to source bestpractice expertise from around the world. According to Livingston, his team wants to execute a “series of firsts” in legal services.

“We are keen to position ourselves at the forefront of investment growth and development of the legal sector by drawing on this expertise to cooperate with investors and the government in pursuing legal structures and transactions that have proven successful in other jurisdictions,” he said.

Livingston considered the lack of efficiency and consistency among regulatory agencies and ministries as the biggest issue that the government should address urgently. 

“Development of new laws and regulations is only effective if those regulations are used and enforced in a sensible fashion in practice. If the government policies and practices can be applied in a more consistent, predictable and reasonably efficient fashion, this will greatly enhance the willingness of investors to commit to major projects in Myanmar,” he said.

According to Livingston, a more stable and predictable environment would support longterm and capitalintensive investments, and creating a simpler land tenure system will greatly enhance investor confidence to raise finance for major projects in Myanmar.

“Reforms to the land tenure system should ideally include measures for clear priority of legal interests and greater accessibility of security interests over land,” he said. 


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