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Morgan Lewis & Bockius’ Singapore managing partner Suet-Fern Lee has stepped down from the top role due to a high-profile family dispute between Singapore’s prime minister and his siblings.
Lee founded Singaporean firm Stamford Law in 2000, after she left WongPartnership where she was corporate head and played played an instrumental role in the firm’s joint law venture (JLV) discussions with Clifford Chance.
In 2015, Stamford merged with US firm Morgan Lewis & Bockius to form Morgan Lewis Stamford and she continued to serve as the country managing partner at the global firm.
A spokesperson of Morgan Lewis confirmed to The Lawyer that Lee has stepped down from the Singapore managing partner role.
“The firm does not anticipate any material change in our Singapore team or practice. Suet-Fern Lee will continue to spend a significant amount of time in Singapore as well as travel to Hong Kong, as she already does in support of her strong client relationships there and as head of our international leadership team,” said the spokesperson.
A source familiar with the firm said Singapore deputy managing partner Joo Khin Ng has taken over as office managing partner.
“The leadership change is part of a long-planned transition. We always intended that once the office was well integrated into the firm, Joo Khin would step into that role,” said the source.
However, the transition coincided with a high-profile dispute between Singapore’s prime minister Lee Hsien Loong and his two siblings Lee Wei Ling and Mr Lee Hsien Yang. Suet -Fern Lee is the wife of Lee Hsien Yang and the prime minister’s sister in law.
The widely reported family feud relates to the will of Singapore’s founding father Lee Kuan Yew, with core issue lying in the future of the family house their father lived in for most of his life.
Last week, in a six-page statement jointly issued by Ms Lee Wei Ling and Mr Lee Hsien Yang, they alleged that they felt “threatened” in their attempt to carry out their late father’s wish to demolish their family home. The statement also said that Mr Lee would be leaving Singapore “for the foreseeable future” as a result.
Morgan Lewis Stamford has around 71 fee-earners and 16 partners. Litigation and corporate are the two largest practices in Singapore by number of partners. The firm’s clients include AusGroup, Marco Polo Marine, Trikomsel, Pacific Hunt Energy Group, Shanghai Shipyard and Arup Singapore.
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