Linklaters appointed William Liu as its new regional managing partner for Asia. A former head of China, and head of the Asian capital markets practice, Liu talks about his priorities going forward.

ALB: As we slowly emerge from the pandemic, in 2021 what are your main business focuses for the year ahead?

WILLIAM LIU: It has no doubt been a challenging year for our clients, our team and the communities we operate in. Thanks to the trust of our clients, the team has been at the forefront of some of the most significant landmark deals in Asia over the last year; with many of them being priced and closed while the clients and us were working from home. I am proud that the team have been able to continue supporting our clients throughout this uncertain period.

My focus is to ensure we continue supporting our clients as they emerge from the pandemic. The pandemic has accelerated a drive for innovation, flexibility, and efficiency in business. This is a very transformational phase and a lot of market and working practices have been rewritten during the pandemic. Clients are now focused on post Covid recovery and need that critical counsel to help navigate their challenges. We will continue to help our existing clients meet their business goals by leveraging both our deep practice and sector expertise in the region, whilst also drawing on the strength of our global network of lawyers in 20 countries around the world. In addition, we will double down on our investments in funds, tech, health care and ESG so that we can support our clients effectively. I am excited that our firm is leading the way in legal innovation with products like CreateiQ, which brings contracting into the digital age. Working alongside our clients, we are constantly improving our processes and harnessing technology to achieve ground-breaking changes in how we deliver legal advice. I’m determined to continue focusing on this in the months and years ahead as it becomes an increasingly important part of our offering.

Investing in our people is the other key priority for me. Our colleagues have embraced agile working and proven our ability to adapt. However, many may have felt disconnected whilst working remotely. There is clearly pandemic fatigue among many of us. I am going to put extra emphasis on developing our “one team” culture and the health and wellbeing of our people whilst also supporting exceptional talent across the region as they forge their careers with us.

ALB: Longer term, what do you hope to achieve while in the role?

LIU: Linklaters has one of the best regional practices with a depth envied by many of our peers in Asia. In my role, I would like to lead the firm in leveraging our fantastic platform and talent to capitalise on the growth opportunities in the region. I am committed to building a strong and diverse team in Asia who can adapt to our clients’ changing needs and the widely forecasted growth of the Asian economies. I believe if we empower our people, results will follow. Asia’s experience in the pandemic has informed the firm’s approach in many aspects during the last year. It is clear to me that Asia can lead and be a powerful force for positive change. I would like to see Asia becoming a powerhouse of the firm.

ALB: Where are the big areas of opportunity for your firm — and how will you make the most of them?

LIU: We believe funds, tech, healthcare and ESG present many opportunities for us. We are advising many of our clients on their path to becoming more sustainable businesses, and ESG and tech are key focuses for many of our clients. As mentioned above, we’re pleased to have been advising on some of the landmark green bond issuances in the region over the last year. We expect the trend for sustainable finance to continue to hold strong whilst governments, regulators and central banks around the world seek to create alignment of ESG standards.

We are also significantly expanding our tech offerings in Asia and have been supporting many of our clients in developing their tech investments, digitalisation of their platform and other technological upgrades. In the context of Asia, funds (private wealth, sovereign, private equity, credit, infrastructure and real estate) present opportunities for us to maximise the strength of our platform as the funds expand into tech, healthcare and ESG. As we move out of the pandemic, I look forward to leading the region to maximise these areas of opportunities, support employees’ return to offices and agile working practices and continue to serve our clients.


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