Duane Morris is first US law firm to set up office in Myanmar

Crossing a new frontier in Southeast Asia, the Philadelphia-based Duane Morris has become the first US law firm to establish an office in Myanmar, the firm announced last week, Reuters reported.

The office, which will be in the capital Yangon, will be a joint venture with Singapore-based law firm Selvam, it said. The 700-lawyer Duane Morris does not have a presence in Hong Kong, based on its website. 

John Soroko, CEO and chairman of Duane Morris, declined to say which clients prompted the move other than that they included companies looking to invest in energy and natural resources work in Myanmar.

“As the first US firm to be there, we thought we would seize something of a first-mover advantage," said Soroko.

But Carter Phillips, chairman of Sidley Austin, which has offices in Singapore and Shanghai, questioned Duane Morris's business strategy of opening an office in Myanmar.

“Why not represent outside interests making investments and decide later (probably much later) what value would be served by having an office there?" Phillips said in an email to Reuters.

“I don't see this (move) leading to a stampede.”

- Reuters News