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International firm expands into Sydney

A UK-headquartered international firm is broadening its hotels and hospitality practice into the Asia-Pacific region, with four senior lawyers to be based in Sydney and Singapore.

user iconJerome Doraisamy 19 March 2021 SME Law
International firm expands into Sydney
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Watson Farley & Williams (WFW), which opened in 1982, has over 170 partners and more than 550 lawyers in 17 countries around the world, has announced a “major expansion” of its hotels and hospitality practice, with four senior lawyers joining from rival international firm Withers.

The team of four will be led by partner Robert Williams, who the firm said is a “recognised expert” in APAC hotel and resort M&A, investment and structuring as well as management contracts and operating leases, co-ownership schemes, franchising, hotel operating platforms and joint ventures. He will be based in Sydney.

Mr Williams will be joined by fellow partner Lada Shelkovnikova, who joins the firm in Singapore, and also consultant Chris Greiner and special counsel Kate Switajewski, both of whom will be in Sydney.


The acquisition of the four represents a “significant step forward” for WFW, the firm said in a statement, deeming the new presence in Sydney a “major expansion of [its] highly regarded” work in the hotels and hospitality sectors.

Speaking about the appointments and expansion into APAC, WFW managing partner Chris Lowe said that the new team of four gives the firm’s hotels and hospitality practice a “greatly expanded” presence in the region, where many of its international clients are based.

“This complements our existing practice in the region which includes Hong Kong, Singapore, Thai and Vietnamese law capability, as well expanding our existing excellence in-sector in EMEA and the US. I’m delighted to welcome Robert, Lada, Chris and Kate to the firm,” he said.

WFW global real estate sector head Felicity Jones added that the hiring of Mr Williams and Ms Shelkovnikova is an “exciting and timely opportunity” for the firm to better support its international client base, as the hotels and hospitality sectors continue to grapple with disruption to the existing models and risk stack, as well as resolve current issues and move to restructuring and M&A opportunities.

“I look forward to developing with them the exciting new dimension their Asia-Pacific expertise brings to our global offering,” she said.

Reflecting on the team’s move across to WFW, Mr Williams said they are excited to be joining the international firm and making a contribution to its global offering.

“Joining WFW enhances our team’s regional coverage, with the ability to better service the Thailand, Vietnam and Middle East markets through offices in Bangkok, Hanoi and Dubai,” he said.

“We will continue to partner with and closely support all our clients and further expand our hospitality teams in Sydney and Singapore in the coming months.”

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