Asia Pacific Legal Market Summary And Partner Moves - August 2019


(As excerpted from our monthly Associate Newsletter - Asia Pacific)

Associate Newsletter – Asia Pacific is a monthly resource that reports current legal market news, trends, partner moves and active opportunities in the Asia Pacific legal markets.

Legal Market Summary


This month, we have seen a slow down on IPO projects, and there is not a lot of hiring happening within the teams. Majority of the positions that are available tend to be mid-level to senior needs. On the other hand, a few top US firms are recruiting for strong M&A lawyers at the four–six—year level. Strong M&A skills and native/near native Chinese skills are required for these positions. Banking and finance teams are always in need of talents.

Banking lawyers have a lot more options outside of private practice, and there are gaps within team for law firms to fill. Most of these openings are between two and five years’ PQE. We have a few other openings within litigation and funds areas, which again appear to be replacement positions.


There are recruitment activities across banking, M&A, FCPA and regulatory teams. However, law firms foresee down time for the next few months, wanting to spend this period to train up their existing associates. Law firms are still keen to hire for replacement positions.

FCPA teams are particularly busy in the Shanghai market. There are a couple of US firms hiring at the junior to mid-level. Mandarin is a must and partners prefer candidates with the Chinese citizenship. The application process for work permit is lengthy, and law firms do not want to lose talents due to the long wait.


Singapore remains to be a replacement market. Majority of hiring appears to be at mid-level and firms are willing to relocate talent to the market. Some firms have increasing workflow from Chinese clients and candidates with Chinese skills are in advantage for these roles.


Seoul, as ever, remains a steady market. We have seen an increase in hiring opportunities this year from the international firms as well as some demand for Korean speakers in Hong Kong/Tokyo for Korea practices. Applications for these roles have been high, and there is a lot of competition among an excellent calibre of talent. Fluent Korean language skills and native-level English are still in high demand but planning and diligence should be considered for any future moves.


While some Japanese companies are opting out to slow down M&A activities, in part due to increasing geopolitical concerns, Japanese outbound investment remains a priority. There has been a continuous appetite for M&A lawyers. Experienced Japanese–qualified lawyers with strong academic backgrounds and solid training from top firms and bilingual US qualified lawyers with two to three years’ PQE experience are highly sought after in the market.


Global and national law firms continue to show strong demand for top lawyers, especially for commercial litigators to handle financial and banking sector regulatory disputes as well as class action defence matters. Demand also remains high for lawyers with two to nine years’ PQE across banking and finance, infrastructure and construction, real estate, corporate/ M&A, and technology/TMT.

Firms continue to look to sponsor UK, New Zealand and South African–qualified lawyers with top-tier experience who wish to relocate to Australia.

Partner Moves

Partners Practice To From Location
Jeanette Chan Communications and Technology Airwallex (Chief Legal and Compliance Officer) Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison Hong Kong
Marco Pocci Energy Stephenson Harwood Winston & Strawn Hong Kong
Phyllis Xu Capital Markets M&A JunHe FinEX Asia Shanghai
Xiaohu Ma International Arbitration Hui Zhong Law Firm Morrison & Foerster Beijing
Paul Marston Corporate Hughes Hubbard & Reed (Counsel and Head of Tokyo) Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman Tokyo
Cameron Ford International Arbitration Squire Patton Boggs Rio Tinto (Senior Counsel) Singapore
Moses Lin Maritime Shook Lin & Bok  Incisive Law (Director) Singapore
Jon Howes Construction Disputes Clyde & Co Pinsent Masons MPillay Singapore
Sean Hardy Construction Disputes Clyde & Co Pinsent Masons MPillay Singapore
Sean La’Brooy Disputes Selvam LLC (Director) Oon & Bazul Singapore
Kim Hyun-suk Capital Markets YKVN Clifford Chance (Korea) Singapore
Alexander Shepherd TMT Pinsent Masons MPillay Bird & Bird Singapore
David Lam Cross-Broder Finance Allen & Overy King & Wood Mallesons Sydney
Paul J. Kim Corporate Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton McDermott Will & Emery (Managing Partner) Seoul
Rahul Arora Energy and Infrastructure Trilegal  HSA Advocates Delhi


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