Jai Pathak already is paying dividends for Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. The corporate partner joined the firm in February from the Los Angeles office of Jones Day, where he led the M&A practice in California. Now Pathak is back to drumming up cross-border transactional work as he heads up Gibson Dunn’s new ten-lawyer Singapore office.
“[Pathak] had been working in California with a focus on Southeast Asia and India, so while we talked about the possibility of a Singapore office at some point, it wasn’t a condition for him coming over,” says Gibson Dunn managing partner Kenneth Doran by phone from Paris.
Reached by phone in Singapore, where Gibson Dunn’s office has been operating out of a temporary space for ten days, Pathak says he was intrigued by the firm’s interest in expanding in Asia. “I spent 24 great years at Jones Day but it was time to move on,” says Pathak, who launched his former firm’s Singapore office in 2001 and managed it for two years.
The Singapore office is Gibson Dunn’s first foray into Asia since shuttering a small Hong Kong office ten years ago. Doran says the locations offers proximity and more immediate access to markets throughout China and India, which Gibson Dunn has an interest in. Current restrictions on practicing locally in India and Singapore–which might lift in the coming months–were not a factor in this decision, Doran and Pathak say, since the firm is interested primarily in cross-border transactional work.
Educated in India, the U.S., and the U.K., Pathak’s international experience made him a likely candidate for this posting. “[Pathak]’s well-known in [the Singapore] market and he’s extraordinarily well connected in India,” Doran says. The son of Raghunandan Swarup Pathak, a former chief justice of the Supreme Court of India who passed away last year, Pathak headed Jones Day’s India practice and is admitted to practice law in the country.
Pathak demurs when asked if his name carries any extra weight on the subcontinent–“My father had his name and I have mine,” he says–but he acknowledges that India and the developing markets in ASEANcountries like Indonesia, Malaysia, Cambodia, and Laos hold special interest for Gibson Dunn clients like alternative fuel company Synthetic Genomics and auto parts manufacturer Intermet Corporation.
Joining Pathak in Singapore and giving the office an international flavor are several of his former Jones Day colleagues, including Egyptian-born Emad Khalil, the former cohead of Jones Day’s global projects practice, U.K.-born projects finance partner Saptak Santra, and U.S.-born projects finance partner John Viverito. (They’re all multilingual: Khalil speaks Arabic, Saptak is fluent in Bengali and Hindi, and Viverito speaks Thai.)
“From Singapore, we think we can credibly cover all of Southeast Asia and India,” Doran says. “And we’ll continue to talk to our clients about other markets.”