SINGAPORE - Law firm Allen & Gledhill, one of the Big Four here, has been named in all 15 categories of the inaugural Singapore's Best Law Firms 2021 ranking, the only one to achieve the distinction.
But the top two positions in the Criminal Law category went to smaller outfits - Trident Law Corporation and Eugene Thuraisingam LLP.
The spread of small and large firms featured in the ranking reflects the diverse nature of the legal services market here, a survey undertaken by The Straits Times and German-based research firm Statista has found.
The results released on Monday (Nov 16) are based on feedback from professionals in the legal sector and clients, who responded to the survey conducted between June 9 and Aug 8 this year.
A total of 98 firms are represented in 15 different categories, with 265 mentions.
Firms that made it into the "Best Of" in a legal category will be able to obtain a licence to use an official seal created for the ranking.
The eye-catching seal features the trademarks of The Straits Times and Statista.
The list has familiar market leaders as well as niche firms with strong skills in the respective categories, from Banking and Negligence Law to Criminal and Commercial Law.
Adsan Law emerged as the best law firm in the rarely highlighted category for charities, non-profit organisations and pro bono work.
A total of 4,716 respondents took part in the online survey and more than 10,000 recommendations for awards were received in total.
"The response was impressive, almost overwhelming," said analyst Christian Leve, who is in charge of various law firm projects Statista does around the world.
He added the strong response was driven by the reach and reputation of The Straits Times and the efforts of the Singapore Corporate Counsel Association, which had reached out to many lawyers.
All recommendations were analysed and studied, and the top firms were identified and ranked according to the number of recommendations they garnered.
"The Singapore legal profession is well known for its breadth and depth of quality lawyers. Guides like this provide more information for potential clients and give some measure of feedback to the firms," said National University of Singapore law faculty dean, Professor Simon Chesterman.
Melbourne-based innovation and strategy consultant Dhamendra Yadav added: "It is important that The Straits Times, as the primary broadsheet in Singapore, has been able to lend its ground expertise to benchmark law firms. This will engender confidence in these firms."
The organisations had previously worked on two other projects - Singapore's Fastest Growing Companies and Singapore's Best Employers.
Mr Warren Fernandez, editor-in-chief of Singapore Press Holding's English, Malay and Tamil Media Group and editor of The Straits Times, said: "Our experience with the first two projects gave us confidence that Statista is the right partner to work with on this new project to focus on legal services in Singapore.
"This will be both of interest to readers and also useful to them when they need to seek legal advice and services."
Dr Friedrich Schwandt, founder and chief executive of Statista, added: "For us, it is always a pleasure to partner with SPH and The Straits Times on mega research projects such as this one - in general, but also with the specific view that Singapore is our Asia hub, with our office here constantly growing."
The full results can be accessed here.
News analysis: Benchmarking Singapore's best law firms
When an industry player - who was unaware of The Straits Times' project on Singapore's Best Law Firms - was asked which law firm she thought was the best in town, she named Allen & Gledhill (A&G).
"It's very telling when CEOs of well-known companies, fellow senior lawyers and even managing partners of other law firms send their law graduate kids to Allen & Gledhill for their training contracts and (they) subsequently go on to qualify as associates there.
"This reflects the trust and confidence these industry veterans have in A&G, as a firm, as a starting point for their next generation of lawyers," said Ms Lee Shulin, director of Singapore-based legal recruitment firm Ansa Search.
"In my line of legal executive search, we often encounter clients requesting to hire lawyers who've had experience working in A&G," she said.
Her response validated what the project found: A&G was the sole firm that was placed in all 15 categories of Singapore's Best Law Firms 2021, a project undertaken by The Straits Times and German-based research firm Statista.
Allen & Gledhill only law firm to be ranked in all 15 categories
Allen & Gledhill is the only law firm to be ranked in all 15 categories of the inaugural list of the ST Best Law Firms 2021.
The survey, done jointly with German research firm Statista, identified, for the first time, Singapore's front runners in 15 categories of legal practice ranging from banking and negligence law to criminal and commercial law, as recommended by their peers and users.
Allen & Gledhill obtained five-star ratings in 10 out of the 15 categories, including banking and finance, mergers and acquisitions and intellectual property law.
Hoh Law Corporation's islandwide reach with 10 branch offices
Hoh Law Corporation, which topped the list in the negligence law category in the ST Best Law Firms 2021 survey, and was also ranked among the top law firms in Family Law and Manpower and Employment, opened its 10th branch office in Woodlands last week.
Started by Mr Hoh Chin Cha in 1991 with a modest office in Middle Road, the firm now has the most number of branches in Singapore, and has firmly established itself with a dedicated focus on community issues and providing legal solutions to the masses.
The firm has handled a litany of headline-grabbing cases over the years. For example, it helped a woman obtain compensation after she became paralysed from being hit by falling branches of a tree within a cathedral's precincts in 2009.
Blind accident victim grateful for law firm Lee Shergill's efforts
For law firm Lee Shergill - one of four to achieve a five-star rating for negligence law in the Best Law Firms 2021 rankings - handling the case of a blind man was both rare and inspiring.
Managing partner Raj Singh Shergill said he was struck by the positive outlook of Mr Zamry Abdul Karim, who has been blind since birth.
In court documents filed, Mr Zamry related how, when using his white cane to cross Toh Guan Road at a signalised T-junction with Toh Guan View in Jurong East at about 11.30pm on June 13, 2017, he was knocked down by a taxi.
Small firms do well in criminal law
Small firms and sole proprietors showed they can do better than the big firms in criminal law.
Of the 15 firms named in the criminal law category of the ST Best Law Firms 2021 list, the top two are small law firms - Trident Law Corporation and Eugene Thuraisingam LLP. And the two were the only firms, big or small, to achieve five-star ratings.
Top-ranked Adsan Law places people at core of its practice
For Adsan Law, ranked at the top in the rarely highlighted best law firm category for charities, non-profit organisations and pro bono, it is people that matter and are placed at the core of its legal practice.
First established as a partnership, Yeo-Leong & Peh in 1987, the practice has since developed into a mid-sized law corporation, undergone a digital transformation and rebranded itself as Adsan Law LLC.
The only other five-star-rated law firm in this category of Best Law Firms was Quahe Woo & Palmer, Allen & Gledhill, Dentons Rodyk, and Rajah & Tann are in the next four-star tier, based on the number of recommendations from the legal profession and clients.