Harry Elias merging with global giant

Mr Philip Fong will head the new firm, after the merger with Eversheds Sutherland.
Mr Philip Fong will head the new firm, after the merger with Eversheds Sutherland.

Harry Elias Partnership, one of Singapore's most well-known law firms, is merging with global giant Eversheds Sutherland to form a new entity - Eversheds Harry Elias (EHE).

The merger, given in-principle approval on Feb 14 by the Ministry of Law, is due to take effect in May. It marks a milestone for Harry Elias Partnership, which was founded by its veteran namesake in 1988.

Its managing partner Philip Fong, who will head EHE, told The Straits Times last week that the firm has been looking at ways to internationalise its practice - in line with the Government's call for firms here to globalise the local legal market and compete with other legal centres, such as Hong Kong.

"The merger with Eversheds will facilitate and expedite this," he said.

In terms of business prospects, the new firm expects strong interest and an inflow of work from both American companies and the region, Mr Fong said.

He added that Eversheds was an obvious choice for a merger because of the two firms' "similar mindsets and culture" .

With more than 130 staff, Harry Elias Partnership has been involved in ground-breaking cases as well as the legal work behind landmarks such as the Marina Bay Sands resort and Singapore Flyer.

Eversheds Sutherland is one of the world's leading international law firms, with 61 offices across Europe, the United States, the Middle East, Africa and Asia, as well as strong links with firms across the globe.

Mr Stephen Kitts, the Eversheds Sutherland (International) managing partner for Asia, saidSingapore is a key market for Eversheds Sutherland, and the new firm will be a key player both here and across South-east Asia.

"We have worked successfully with Harry Elias Partnership for a number of years and developed a strong, positive relationship," he added.

"EHE will be a full-service practice, combining the resources of the global Eversheds Sutherland network with the local expertise of one of Singapore's largest, and most experienced, domestic firms."

An elated Senior Counsel Elias, who turns 80 in May, said the union will enable the firm to do what "the big boys" are doing.

"We will get the expertise to be able to do it and the symbiosis will provide the type of work for growth," he said.

"When I started about 30 years ago, I envisaged the firm would grow locally - but this is a paradigm shift to a new strategy, where we will be able to reach out with the resources worldwide."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 22, 2017, with the headline 'Harry Elias merging with global giant'. Print Edition | Subscribe