Asia Pacific Legal Market Summary December 2022


(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


As we approach the end of 2022, recruitment in the corporate space is slow, but activity remains in other practice areas. Partners are open to seeing candidates in the litigation, projects and finance areas. These opportunities are mainly within international law firms for candidates with over three years of post-qualification experience; fluent Chinese is not required. Firms are also open to candidates with Korean or Japanese language skills. Many of the US law firms will be entering into the new year with a headcount freeze, but they are hoping to get a better sense of their 2023 staffing needs in January. The UK firms, however, still have an appetite to hire, and they expect any upcoming recruitment needs will be driven by replacement.

Mainland CHINA

Recruitment activity remained steady in Beijing and Shanghai for December. Though China has eased its COVID-19 restrictions on travel and production this month, and most law firms believe business activity will be influenced by the easing of these restrictions. With the early Chinese New Year in mid-January this year, most firms foresee the period between Christmas and Chinese New Year will be relatively quieter than usual.


As we wind down the calendar year in Singapore, it’s a good time to reflect on activity in 2022 and look forward to 2023. Since the removal of COVID-19 restrictions, Singapore has seen a resurgence in incoming travellers. However, we are not immune to global business conditions, and there is caution in associate hiring across all practice areas. Our clients are always open to seeing quality candidates in key associate areas, and we predict that this will continue through 2023 as the global markets stabilize. We are still seeing demand for skilled associates in investment funds, private equity, restructuring and major projects areas.

SINGAPORE - (Interim)

The interim model is a practical and powerful staffing option that provides a wealth of opportunities for both employers and candidates. With the threat of yet another recession, it is a great tool to help employers fill the gaps during a transition and keep businesses moving forward.


The last month has welcomed exciting news in the Korean legal market with the opening of Ashurst’s new Seoul office. Ashurst Korea JV, a combination of midsize Korean law firm HwaHyun and Ashurst, will be the first global law firm permitted to practice Korean law and hire local attorneys in the country since the legal market opened in 2011. It will be interesting to see the scope of this new venture and whether other firms will follow suit in the year ahead. As mentioned in our past newsletter, we are looking forward to re-connecting with many of you in person when our consultants travel to Seoul in January. Please feel free to reach out to us if you wish to meet up. We are hopeful that the new year will bring more opportunities for associates to join the international law firms in Seoul.


Between the bustle of tourists and flurry of holiday gatherings, Tokyo finally feels like it has returned to pre-pandemic normalcy, save for continued face masking. The exchange rate also seems to have at least stopped its cratering descent. Law firms have generally wound down their hiring for the year, with several international firms taking a wait-and-see approach to their recruiting needs for early 2023 and large Japanese firms having satisfied their international lawyer hiring needs for the time being. Firms are, as always, opportunistically interested in corporate bengoshi associates and international corporate associates with Japanese fluency, but we do not expect to see a dramatic increase in open roles for foreign lawyers until perhaps early spring.


The private practice market will likely quiet down over the holiday season, as law firms across Australia close for the Christmas and New Year break. In turn, firms expect recruitment to slow through to January, with many partners remaining away over the summer. Recruitment should pick back up again in February. Senior associates from private equity, banking, finance, financial services and infrastructure backgrounds remain in demand. Several firms are reporting needs for banking and finance associates with 2–4 years of post-qualification experience. Firms also continue to show an interest in meeting with talented transactional candidates, with 2–10 years of post-qualification experience who are looking to relocate to Australia.

Partner Moves






Terence Luk


Zhong Lun Law Firm

Fairbairn Catley Low & Kong

Hong Kong

Simon Wong

Investment Funds



Hong Kong

Trinh Hoang


DLA Piper


Hong Kong

Lance Jiang

Restructuring and Insolvency


Addleshaw Goddard

Hong Kong

Tristan Thompson



DLA Piper


Richard Sharpe

Investigations and White-collar Crime

King & Spalding

Kirkland & Ellis, Hong Kong


Jerald Foo

Litigation and Dispute Resolution

Duane Morris & Selvam

Oon & Bazul


James Lonie


K&L Gates

HWL Ebsworth


Natalya Hards


K&L Gates

HWL Ebsworth


Lisa Lautier

Asset Mand Investment Funds

K&L Gates

HWL Ebsworth



Office openings

Ashurst opens in Seoul.

Partner moves are obtained from both public sources and Major, Lindsey & Africa market intelligence. The list is not intended to represent Major, Lindsey & Africa as the consultancy involved in the moves, although some moves may have been brokered by Major, Lindsey & Africa.


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