find the latest legal job
Senior Associate - Competition, Policy & Regulatory
Category: Other | Location: Sydney CBD, Inner West & Eastern Suburbs Sydney NSW
· Work with a well regarded Partner · Sydney CBD
View details
Commercial Litigation Senior Associate
Category: Litigation and Dispute Resolution | Location: Sydney CBD, Inner West & Eastern Suburbs Sydney NSW
· Lawyers Weekly Australia Partner of the Year 2016, Insolvency
View details
MULTIPLEX Regional Legal Counsel (Vic) | 7 to 10 years + PQE
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Melbourne CBD & Inner Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· Career defining in-house role · Tier One international contractor
View details
Junior Lawyer - Personal Injury Law
Category: Personal Injury Law | Location: Parramatta & Western Suburbs Sydney NSW
· Highly specialized practice · Challenging role with great opportunities
View details
IR Advisor/Member Advocate
Category: Industrial Relations and Employment Law | Location: St Leonards NSW 2065
· Permanent (0.8-1.0 FTE) role in a developing team
View details
Firm opportunities in Myanmar

Firm opportunities in Myanmar

A founding member of the Australia-Myanmar Chamber of Commerce has said there are opportunities for international law firms in the emerging Southeast Asia nation.

“A lot of big companies are looking to come in [to Myanmar] … which will sooner or later translate into foreign inbound transactions … that will definitely require legal assistance,” said Baker & McKenzie senior associate Melinda Tun (pictured), who immigrated to Australia from Myanmar when she was 12 and speaks fluent English and Burmese.

She added that foreign lawyers could also help bridge the generation gap between the well-trained older generation of Myanmar lawyers and younger lawyers who were educated under Myanmar’s military dictatorship.

“The last properly qualified lawyers are in their 70s and 80s now and the new crop of lawyers are in a way a product of [an] education system [that didn’t] really allow for independent legal training … so you now have very young lawyers who are not quite well-equipped to practice.

“I think that’s where foreign lawyers and law firms can fill the gap … and hopefully bring the legal profession in Myanmar up to speed down the track.”

Myanmar was ruled by a military junta from 1962 to 2010 and faced sanctions from the international community during this time. Australia lifted its economic sanctions against Myanmar last year, though an arms embargo remains in place.

Tun recently spent three-and-a-half months in Myanmar volunteering at the Centre for Economic and Social Development in the Myanmar Development Resource Institute. She mostly advised on the legal aspects of macro-economic reform initiatives and prepared policy advice for government.

Tun spoke last week at an event hosted by the Australia-Myanmar Chamber of Commerce and Bakers on The Myanmar Business Climate and Insights on Doing Business in Southeast Asia.

The briefing coincided with the visit of a Myanmar delegation, which included the Myanmar Minister of Mines Dr Myint Aung, which was in Sydney to attend the Mining for Development and Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative Conferences that took place last week. The delegation also undertook a mining study tour in Queensland.

Also speaking at the business briefing was Australia’s trade commissioner to Myanmar Mark Wood, who is travelling to Myanmar’s largest city Yangon this week to set up an Austrade office there, and Hilda Frith, Myanmar representative (new business and strategy) with McConnell Dowell Corporation.

Business barriers

At the briefing, attended by close to 100 people in Bakers’ Sydney CBD office last Thursday (22 May), Wood outlined the challenges faced by businesses looking to set up in Myanmar, including that foreigners cannot hold bank accounts and only 60 per cent of Yangon has access to electricity.

“Foreign law firms will require an investment permit to operate in Myanmar,” explained Tun. “The country is only in the process now of amending the Bar Council Act, which is establishing the regulatory procedures around the legal industry again, so all of that is a work in progress.

“But there shouldn’t be any sort of practical impediment to foreign lawyers advising foreign companies entering the jurisdiction.”

Bakers’ Australia managing partner Chris Freeland also said there was a lot of opportunity for law firms in the resources-rich country, which borders China and India: “We certainly see Myanmar as an important stepping stone for our firm and many of our clients’ businesses as we continue to build upon our network and strength in Asia-Pacific.”

Tun added that most international law firms operating in the country currently have a fly-in, fly-out arrangement, including Bakers, which has a Myanmar practice based in its Bangkok office.

“That, in a way, is reflective of the nature of investors that are going in. A lot of the multi-nationals are trying to go into Myanmar based out of their regional head office in Singapore, so in some way there is a synergy to that working arrangement,” she said.

“Obviously, as Myanmar opens and infrastructure develops more, clients will establish operations on the ground [and] then there would be more of a demand for on-the-ground [legal] support.”

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

Firm opportunities in Myanmar
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Human body, illegal organ trafficking, ALHR
Sep 22 2017
Australia poised to combat illegal organ harvesting: ALHR
The Australian Lawyers for Human Rights are calling for changes to the law so that organ trafficking...
Online service, barristers, BarristerSELECT, Stephen Foley
Sep 22 2017
New online service leverages barristers’ clerks to aid briefing
A new online tool has been launched to help NSW solicitors find the most suitable barristers for the...
NSW District Court judge, Tim Gartelmann SC, next appointment,
Sep 22 2017
Silk replaces outgoing NSW District Court judge
A barrister has been named as the next appointment to the NSW District Court, following the retireme...
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...