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Strong relationships deliver strategic success for clients at Tilleke & Gibbins

Like many ambitious law firms, partners at the Bangkok-headquartered firm of Tilleke & Gibbins had an important decision to make during the Covid-19 crisis.

Do they put their strategic growth plans on hold as the firm – and its 550+ staff – adapt to the new ways of working in the post-pandemic world, or do they press on and implement a new strategic plan aimed at delivering new growth opportunities?

Perhaps not surprisingly, Tiziana Sucharitkul, Managing Partner at Tilleke & Gibbins, took the decision to push forward with implementing the firm’s strategic review – a review that has resulted in a new three-year strategic plan that will see Thailand’s largest law firm continue its upward trajectory in Southeast Asia.

Tilleke & Gibbins has been supporting organisations – the vast majority of whom are based outside of Thailand’s borders – to do business in Southeast Asia for the last 132 years, and today the firm boasts seven offices in six jurisdictions across the region. This strong base allows them to support their international clientele of Fortune 500 companies and dynamic start-ups, enabling them all to successfully conduct business in some of the world’s most challenging markets.

Originally founded by a British-qualified Sri-Lankan lawyer in 1890, Tilleke & Gibbins has never shied away from working in politically challenging environments for foreign organisations, which is, no doubt, why Sucharitkul had the confidence that her firm would be able to deliver on the strategic plan over the coming three years.

“One of the key focuses of our strategic plan,” says Sucharitkul, “is to further strengthen the existing relationships the firm has with both overseas clients and law firms and to look for opportunities to grow and develop brand new relationships. That is a clear focus for me and one I will be working closely with all our partners and associates on in the months ahead. Obviously, key to that objective are the close relationships that we have already built over the last 30 years with our fellow Lex Mundi member firms around the world.

One key focus of our strategic plan is to strengthen the existing relationships the firm has, and look for opportunities to grow relationships.

Tiziana Sucharitkul Managing Partner

“We were one of the founder members of Lex Mundi in the 1980s and the network has been instrumental in terms of making Tilleke & Gibbins the premier law firm for doing business in Southeast Asia. Lex Mundi has supported us from being a single office firm headquartered in Bangkok to having seven offices in six jurisdictions.”

Another strategic focus for Sucharitkul is to further commit to delivering its extraordinary level of service to clients, regardless of location, and making sure that Tilleke & Gibbins’ unrivalled level of client service is delivered consistently across all the firm’s offices through its 200 fee earners and support teams.

To that end, Sucharitkul, who was Lex Mundi’s Chair from 2018-19, looks to her fellow member firms for inspiration on how to continually push her own firm, her lawyers, and her support teams across IT, business development, marketing et al. to continually strive to learn new and better ways of delivering services to clients and internally across the firm’s offices.

Many legal networks are simply referral networks...Lex Mundi has always been much more than that.

Sucharitkul adds: “Many legal networks are simply referral networks, but Lex Mundi has always been much more than that and I’m delighted to see how it has developed into a genuine full service global legal platform. Continued professional development is something that is absolutely key to our future success and by sending our people, from junior associate to partner level, to Lex Mundi’s many conferences and training courses, we are able to remain at the cutting edge of international legal practice. The innovative methods for client service delivery, business development, marketing, IT, and much more that we have learnt from our participation in Lex Mundi over the years have been invaluable.

“Sometimes in our region it can be hard to find professional development, leadership and training opportunities for our people, so to be able to tap into the knowledge Lex Mundi offers us is a huge benefit for our people and, in turn, our clients who get access to the very best legal services in the region.”

To that end, Sucharitkul and two other members of her team are travelling to Edinburgh in the coming days to attend Lex Mundi’s annual conference. With a two-year delay thanks to the pandemic, they are eager to reconnect physically and catch-up with fellow members.

“Humans are social animals – we all like to meet, talk and share ideas. It’s easy to continue an established relationship through Zoom and Teams but building new business relationships through Zoom or Teams is much harder, I think. That is why we invest so much time and embrace the opportunities to meet other lawyers socially that Lex Mundi provides us with.

“One thing is key, the more you engage and invest in terms of your time – whether by sending your people, joining and participating in committees, joining or initiating business development activities, or however you engage – the more you get out of the Lex Mundi network. We fully intend to continue to be as engaged, if not more, as we deliver on our strategic plan over the next three years and beyond.”