Indonesia’s 2019 Top Lawyers

To be part of Indonesia’s top lawyers, one needs to be “communicative, responsive and supportive”, according to Rany Anggrainy, human resources and general administration manager of Geodis Wilson in Indonesia, when describing Indra Setiawan, a partner at ABNR.

“Indra’s response helps me to make further decisions for my company. I am happy having him as my business partner,” she adds.

“Commercial, responsive and well informed” are the specification that Freddy Karyadi, a partner at ABNR, possess, according to Matt Richards, founder and managing director of Watiga Trust in Singapore.

Muhammad Bhadra Aditya, legal, compliance & government relations manager at Digital Alpha in Indonesia, says people needs to “understand what the client needs and always come up with practical legal and commercial solutions”, which is how he described Abadi Abi Tisnadisastra, a partner at Akset Law Firm.

Speaking of Andi Walli, one of the founders and managing partners of Andi & Law, Nanda Juwita, a senior legal personnel at Cipta Integra Duta, says: “Andi is the full package when it comes to a high-quality lawyer … he is highly skilful, and has integrity and professionalism, yet is easy going.”

These comments, submitted to Asia Business Law Journal by the clients of Indonesian lawyers, suggest that they not only look for lawyers with an extensive knowledge of the law, but also those who are experienced, have skills to communicate, the ability to tailor-make solutions, and be professional and personable with their clients.

In addition, most international clients seek out Indonesian lawyers who have international experience and great mindset.

Spotlighting The Individual

With the largest economy in Southeast Asia, Indonesia’s economy has been growing at a respectable rate of 5% over the past five years amid a global slowdown, with the Indonesian government investing in US$350 million worth of infrastructure, the largest the country has even seen, and enjoying low levels of unemployment. Although the recent presidential elections create some uncertainty, it is expected that Indonesia’s economy will keep pushing forward.

In its effort to improve Indonesia’s business environment by attracting foreign direct investment, the government has been upgrading power and other infrastructure, aggressively prosecuting more corruption cases, and taking parts to improve the regulatory environment to sustain economic development and create new industries.

Indonesia’s legal system is largely based on Dutch colonial law as a result of 350 years of Dutch colonial rule until it’s independence in 1945, when the country started to establish its own laws by modifying existing Dutch legal principles and adapting from customary law that existed before colonization, as well as Islamic law (sharia), which applies to Muslims. Judicial precedent is not a source of law in Indonesia.

The Indonesian legal market has been making its best efforts to rebuild since 2016 despite economic challenges. Today, the Indonesian legal market continues to be one where clients seek out good lawyers, rather than good law firms.

Perhaps this is because of the respect and trust individual lawyers have built and nurtured in lawyer-client relationships, and, more importantly, their own reputation, which far outweighs their firm’s brand name or firm size, factors that are predominant in more developed jurisdictions.

This list is based on extensive research and nominations received from in-house counsel based in Indonesia and elsewhere, as well as Indonesia-focused partners at international law firms based outside Indonesia. Nearly all of the A-list lawyers are located in the country’s capital, Jakarta. This may reflect the premium on lawyers who are well placed to have their ear to the ground with regard to developments among the financial and sector-specific regulators, and within the corridors of power in government.

As would be expected, the heads of Indonesia’s top law firms are on the A-list. These include: Ahmad Fikri Assegaf, a partner at Assegaf Hamzah and Partners, who is described by Anne Yeo, co-head and equity partner at Rajah & Tann Singapore, as “a dynamic, articulate, knowledgeable and commercial minded lawyer who stands out with his ability to identify legal and commercial issues”.

Daru Lukiantono, the head of IP lawyer indonesia‘s practice group at Hadiputranto, Hadinoto & Partners, is described by Louis Chan, senior legal of counsel at The Procter & Gamble Company, as “having a good grasp of IP law and practice, and being responsive to client needs”.

Also making the list are: Linda Widyati, a founding partner of Linda Widyati & Partners; David Tobing, a founding partner of Adams & Co; Andi Simangunsung, managing partner at AFS Partnership; Sri Rahayu, managing partner at Rahayu & Partners; Aurora Nia Pratiwi, founding partner of ANC Attorneys at Law; and Bagus Nur Buwono, managing partner at Bagus Enrico & Partners.

High praise

Marissa Octrinanda, a business development personnel at Kian Santang in Indonesia, spoke about Dianyndra Kusuma Hardy of Suhardi Somomoljono & Associates: “Dianyndra always believe in the ethos of the client, not the lawyer, determining the format and amount of legal services to be provided.

He listens to the client, takes the time to determine client’s wants and needs, and works within that framework.” She adds, “Dianyndra works to ensure that the scope of his legal services stays consistent with our expectations and budget.”

Fabian Buddy Pascoal, a partner at Hanafiah Ponggawa & Partners, received high praise from Azman Jaafar, the deputy managing partner at RHT Law Taylor Wessing in Singapore: “Fabian is one of those rare lawyers who navigates the legal world and the business world seamlessly … by being actively involved in the business community, Fabian is able to get a deep understanding of the needs of his clients and offer advice attuned to the business landscape.”

Catherine Stemp, executive director and senior counsel at Goldman Sachs, Hong Kong, commended Theodoor Bakker, foreign counsel at ABNR, with this observation: “Theo has an encyclopaedic knowledge of Indonesian law as it relates to our finance business, as well as strong regulatory relationships and knowhow, which means that we get accurate, relevant and up-to-date steers on how to structure and run our business.”

Toplist women lawyers

Not to be outclassed by their male peers, a good portion of the A-list was filled by Indonesia’s leading women lawyers including: Helena Adnan, a senior partner at Adnan Kelana Haryanto & Hermanto, who also serves as director of legal and compliance, and independent director at Pelita Samudera Shipping; Melli Darsa, founder and senior partner at Melli Darsa & Co, who was recently named one of Globe Asia’s 99 most powerful woman in Indonesia; and Irawati Hermawan, managing partner at Hermawan Juniarto, who is currently active in several organizations such as the Indonesia Chambers of Commerce, the Indonesia Transport Society and the Indonesia Advocates Association. 

SH Fransisca, a partner at Makes & Partners, received praise from Lawrence Foo, a partner at WongPartnership in Singapore, who says, “Fransisca is a top corporate finance lawyer, and also has considerable experience in the real estate and M&A practices. Her strong analytical skills and ability to provide legal solutions place her in the top bracket of lawyers in Indonesia.”

Kevin Kileen, managing counsel at Amway, USA, describes Chandrawati Dewi, a partner at Ali Budiardjo Nugroho Reksodiputro, as “an exceptional lawyer, and we have worked with lawyers and firms around the world in gaining this perspective”. He adds, “she is a wise business counsellor, providing both accurate legal advice and common sense, [and] practical solutions that help us operate in a compliant, growth-oriented manner.”

The Future Lawyers

Included in the A-list lawyers is also Indonesia’s young legal talent. Pramudya Oktavinanda, managing partner at UMBRA Strategic Legal Solutions, received this positive note from Hendrawan Hendrawan, AVP – financial advisory services at RHB Sekuritas, Indonesia: “Pramudya is a young, passionate and talented lawyer. He always shows professionalism, providing significant solutions and advice in situations involving legal matters. I believe he will become one of the influencing leaders in legal practice in the future.”

Satisfied clients such as these are what make a lawyer or foreign legal consultant, counsel or adviser one of Indonesia’s top 100.

Compiling the Toplist

The Toplist is based on extensive research conducted by Asia Business Law Journal. To identify the top 100 lawyers in Indonesia, we turned to thousands of in-house counsel in Indonesia and around the world – as well as partners at international law firms – and asked them to tell us which lawyers should make the cut.

Nominations were made by professionals at a wide range of Indonesian and global companies, financial institutions and law firms, including: Adani Global; Allen & Gledhill; Amway; Astro Computer; AUG Consulting; Badan Pertanahan Nasional; Bank ANZ; Bank CIMB Niaga; Bank Dinar Indonesia; Bank Mandiri; Baramulti Group; BDO Indonesia; Beijing Kingsoft Office Software; Bintraco Dharma; BT; Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group; Centrepark Citra Corpora; Chatham House; Citibank; CMS; Covington & Burling; DLA Piper; Goldman Sachs; Grab; Hogan Lovells; Hutchison 3 Indonesia; Indonesia Stock Exchange; Konsultan Partisipasi Publik; KTC Coal Mining & Energy; Linklaters; Mapletree Investments; Mayer Brown; Mitsui & Co; Mizuho Asia Partners; Moka Teknologi Indonesia; Morrison & Foerster; Nestle Indonesia; Nishimura & Asahi; ORIX Corporation; Panasean Investama Indonesia; Panasonic Gobel Energy Indonesia; Pasifik Satelit Nusantara; Pengadilan Negeri Bangko; Pengelolah RPTRA; PT Indonesia Power; PT Jasa Digital Nusantara; Public infrastructure development of Dki Jakarta Province; RHB Sekuritas Indonesia; Saipem Indonesia; Singapore Airlines; Telekomunikasi Indonesia; Total Marine & Claims Services; Volvo Group Trucks Asia; Watiga Trust; Xendit; Xiaomi Communications Indonesia; and many more.

All Indonesian private-practice lawyers were automatically eligible for inclusion in the nominations process and, as always, there were no fees or any other requirements for entry.