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Desmond spent his early years of practice at Messrs Allen & Gledhill and Messrs Rajah & Tann. In 1998, Desmond became the Managing Partner of Messrs J Koh & Co, a niche practice specialising in corporate restructuring and complex litigation work. Under his stewardship, the firm grew to over 60 employees across offices in four jurisdictions.
In 2003, DLA Piper acquired Messrs J Koh & Co and Desmond became the Managing Director of its Singapore office and head of its South East Asian practices. In 2008, Desmond set up and managed the Singapore operations of Eversheds, another leading international law firm. In 2013, Desmond returned to focus on local work by setting up his own boutique firm which subsequently merged with JLC Advisors LLP.
Throughout his career spanning almost two decades, Desmond has been involved in many complex cases. Desmond has advised, amongst others, Nick Leeson in relation to the collapse of Barings Bank, Chen Jiulin in relation to the trading losses of China Aviation Oil, the corruption charges against Airocean’s CEO and most recently, City Harvest Church. Desmond has also advised and represented governments, statutory boards, listed companies, REITs and MNCs.
Desmond has been consistently named as a leading individual in the Asia Pacific Legal 500, in both the Dispute Resolution and Corporate categories – one of the very few individuals to be cited in both sections. He has also been repeatedly cited by Asian Legal Business as one of the “Hottest 100 lawyers” in Asia.
“With his remarkable knack for earning a client’s trust, Mr Ong has become a key behind-the-scenes adviser to the defendant in some of Singapore’s most notorious corporate scandals over the past 18 years. … Lawyers who know Mr Ong personally or have had professional dealings with him were almost unanimous in their praise for his ability to deal with clients.” – The Business Times Weekend, May 25-26 2013