Asia Pacific Legal Market Summary And Partner Moves - March 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


Hong Kong has been through its ups and downs with COVID-19 cases this month. New social distancing rules have been introduced and there are upcoming plans by the Hong Kong Government on mandatory testing across the city. This has slowed down some of the recruitment processes, and it takes a longer time to progress from application to offer stage. However, there is still demand in the market for strong candidates.

The demand remains in transactional practice areas, with growth in the corporate space. We have active needs for mid- to senior-level lawyers with our key US and Magic Circle clients. Interestingly, some of these positions do not require Chinese language skills, and we believe this is due to the departure of ex-pats leaving Hong Kong. Around 30 percent of the positions that we are working on do not require Chinese language capabilities and law firms are open to relocating lawyers to Hong Kong.

Other busy areas include finance, funds and investigations. We have also seen an uptick in demand for funds lawyers among offshore law firms. They are open to retooling corporate M&A lawyers to work on funds transactions. UK, Australia and Hong Kong-qualified lawyers will be considered for those positions.


During the month of March, recruitment activity remained steady in Beijing and Shanghai. Corporate M&A, finance and FCPA practices were the most active. Law firms still have a strong desire to hire PRC citizens, as COVID-19—related travel restrictions and visa application delays have made hiring foreign lawyers more complicated.


Although Singapore’s COVID-19 cases have been on the rise since our last newsletter and some restrictions remain in place, business activity is also on the rise in all sectors and there are plenty of opportunities for strong associates across a variety of practice areas. Business travel (both regional and global) is also beginning to bounce back and the CBD (Raffles Place, MBFC), shops and restaurants are all busy again!

Expansion and attrition are creating opportunity for associates at all levels and in most practice areas, with a solid corporate background or a solid finance background, being sought-after disciplines. To that end, we are keen to hear from candidates interested in a Singapore experience, and we would be happy to discuss what this market has to offer for international lawyers. There are also excellent opportunities for locally based candidates looking to take that next step in international law. 

SINGAPORE - Interim Legal

As highlighted in MLA’s recent Global In-House Market Conditions Report, the market remains very competitive. Young lawyers are keen to explore the interim market as it provides an opportunity to get their “foot in the door”, whether it is to explore specific industries or to make the transition from private practice to in-house. Remote working remains a high priority for many candidates as they juggle work and family life. 


Despite continuing high numbers of COVID-19 cases in Seoul, law firms are operating mostly business as usual in Korea with most lawyers working in the office. Firms continue to have some difficulty in filling roles for foreign-qualified associates, creating opportunities for people who are looking to relocate to Korea or make a lateral move in Seoul. There are currently several mid-level corporate associate hiring opportunities at major international and Korean law firms for highly qualified bilingual foreign-qualified associates.


After a veritable visa freeze since the early days of the pandemic, there is finally some movement as the government began to issue working visas in March. This is great news for those who have been waiting to enter the country and those who have put thoughts of a move to Japan on the back burner—although expect the government to need extra time to process the enormous backlog of visa applications. The market remains busy, with lots of opportunities for foreign-qualified associates with Japanese language skills and stellar credentials. Opportunities also abound for bengoshi associates looking to move to international law firms or in-house.


The Australian legal market, particularly in Sydney and Melbourne, remains busy with top-tier and mid-tier law firms continuing to compete for talent at both the associate and senior associate levels across a range of practice areas, particularly in corporate M&A, banking and finance.

Global issues such as rising inflation, the lingering COVID-19 pandemic and the conflict in Ukraine have not affected legal recruitment in Australia thus far this year. However, we are beginning to hear that a few corporate deals have been put on pause or postponed due to the uncertain climate. If there is a disruption, we have no reason to believe it will be nothing more than temporary. 

Partner Moves






Li-Chien Wong


Hong Kong Stock Exchange

(Managing Director)

Kirkland & Ellis

Hong Kong

Howie Farn

Capital Markets

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer

Kirkland & Ellis

Hong Kong

Wanda Woo

Capital Markets

Shearman & Sterling

Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati

Hong Kong

Brian Ho

Mergers and Acquisitions and Private Equity

Kirkland & Ellis

Securities & Futures Commission

Hong Kong

Peng Yu

Private Equity

Kirkland & Ellis

Ropes & Gray

Hong Kong

Xavier Amadei

Capital Markets

Herbert Smith Freehills

Baker McKenzie Wong & Leow.



Cathryn Neo



Ashurst ADTLaw

(Senior Associate)


Bryan Tan

Technology, Media and Telecommunications

Reed Smith

Pinsent Masons MPillay


Aragon St-Charles

Environmental, Social and Governance


Hogan Lovells


Kristian Bradshaw

Project Development and Finance

White & Case

INPEX Corporation


Erik Setio

Investment Funds and Financial Services

Hamilton Locke

Clayton Utz

(Special Counsel)


Maged Girgis


Herbert Smith Freehills



Andrew Bradley

Financial Services

Herbert Smith Freehills



Helen Clarke

Technology, Media and Telecommunications

Johnson Winter & Slattery

Corrs Chambers Westgarth


Keith Thomas


Meridian Lawyers

HWL Ebsworth



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