A law firm has become the first in Singapore to set up a public policy practice to advise clients on issues such as regulatory changes, government affairs management and commercial initiatives.
Allen & Gledhill's unit, launched last week, is co-headed by the firm's chief economist Elsa Chen, a competition law specialist featured in a 2016 global list of elite women in the field, and law partner Adrian Ang, who was previously an assistant director at the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).
In the US, public policy units in some major law firms help to shape decisions in matters of government law and regulation. Last month, global law firm Pinsent Masons launched a public policy unit in Britain to advise on the impact of the country's vote to leave the European Union.
A&G's managing partner Lee Kim Shin said shifts in the regulatory and legislative landscape can have significant impact on businesses and commercial imperatives. "Through effective public policy engagement, clients can better respond to, and participate in, the regulatory landscape to align commercial and business prerogatives with public policy needs.
"The practice integrates our firm's depth of expertise in public policy, applicable laws and regulations, competition and economic trends, and draws on Allen & Gledhill's deep industry experience... in key business centres throughout South-east Asia."
Ms Chen said the unit was set up to respond to the parallel trends of "co-creating value" with governments through collaboration, and the increasing impact of public policy intervention on how business is conducted. "It is not a one-off reaction to any one regulatory or legislative development, but a sustained observation of how public policy, domestic and international, impacts on business value in all sectors."
Mr Ang said new technologies have brought about increasing disruptions which "shake up the status quo in the form of new entrants to existing markets, with novel ways of doing business, and may have deep-reaching impact on existing businesses".
"Our new practice group is well placed to assist our clients in understanding the policy issues and legal ramifications surrounding the disruptions and to utilise such knowledge to their advantage."
Singapore Corporate Counsel Association vice- president Dharmendra Yadav said the move "will create opportunities in areas traditionally outside the remit of lawyers... It is the right signal for the profession because good lawyering must... involve an appreciation of the policy imperatives driving legislation".