Asia Pacific Legal Market Summary And Partner Moves - January 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


It was a busy year for Hong Kong in 2018. There was a high volume of recruitment activities throughout the year across different practices areas with law firms hiring associates across all levels.

2019 has started with strong flow of activities. Law firms are actively recruiting mid-level lawyers who have a mix corporate finance background. Senior M&A and funds lawyers with Chinese language skills are also in demand. We foresee the recruitment market to remain active throughout the year.


In 2018, China was busy largely in corporate and finance. We saw a number of clients recruit talents with Chinese language skills from Singapore and Hong Kong markets.

The China market is having a slow start to the year in anticipation of the upcoming New Year festivities. Most activity has focused around corporate and banking opportunities at the mid-level. We anticipate an increase in new roles towards the end of this quarter.


It was a steady year for Singapore in 2018. We saw some senior movements throughout the year. Finance and corporate M&A were the areas where firms recruited slightly more than others. Singapore- and UK-qualified candidates were in demand, while Singaporean returnees with couple of years of experience in the UK, US or Australia are still in need.

We foresee the recruitment market to remain steady in 2019. There are a number of ambitious Singapore-qualified lawyers seeking opportunities to work in Hong Kong and China and hoping to be in a busier market. We foresee there will be more candidates open to opportunities outside of Singapore in the coming year. High profile deals’ exposure is the No. 1 priority for candidates and this seems to be a trend for 2019.


The Tokyo market is picking up its pace after the holiday season. Active M&A and related activities continue to be the biggest driver in 2019. Experienced M&A transactional lawyers are in demand. There has also been a strong appetite for Japanese-qualified lawyers and bilingual, foreign-qualified lawyers with three years PQE+ across practice groups and firms.


Seoul was a steady year overall, looking back in 2018. Corporate remains the dominant area with some firms slowly looking to expand their reach.

Korea remains steady with opportunities focused around corporate M&A and private equity. There is still a strong preference for US-qualified talent with fluency in Korean looking to return to Seoul with a small handful of firms open to candidates being based in Hong Kong. English fluency is important for drafting, sometimes preferred over Korean fluency. High-quality training and academics are essential for the market at the moment.


The Sydney legal market has started off 2019 right where 2018 left off—busy and full of activity. Although January has historically been a slow month for recruitment across the Australian legal market, so far this year, we have experienced a flurry of demand for talent from the Sydney offices of global and top-tier law firms. Demand is across several practice areas and for lawyers with 1–5 years PQE in banking & finance, corporate/M&A, litigation, regulatory and real estate. Several firms are also on the lookout for dedicated Senior Associates across mostly finance and corporate practice areas. Firms continue to be willing to sponsor foreign finance and corporate lawyers interested in moving to Australia, especially UK and South African-qualified lawyers.

The Melbourne private practice legal market has also started off strong with international and national law firms maintaining their demand for top talent across Banking & Finance, corporate/M&A and Regulatory lawyers as well as mid-level Real Estate lawyers.

Perth has been quiet so far although there is an almost rolling need from national and global firms for corporate, energy and finance lawyers with 1–5 year PQE.


Partner Moves






Simon Powell


Independent Arbitrator

Latham & Watkins
(Managing Partner)

Hong Kong

Anthony Chan


Squire Patton Boggs

Stephenson Harwood

Hong Kong

Julia Yu


Oon & Bazul

Bae, Kim & Lee (Special Counsel)


Rajaram Ramiah


RHTLaw Taylor Wessing

Quahe Woo & Palmer


Richard Tan Kheng Swee


RHTLaw Taylor Wessing

Barker Henley
(Managing Director)


Felicia Tan


TSMP Law Corp.

Incisive Law


Ton van den Bosch


Addleshaw Goddard

Ince & Co
(Of Counsel)


Daiske Yoshida


Morrison & Foerster

Latham & Watkins


Zein El Hassan

Financial Services


Norton Rose Fulbright


Elisabeth Ellis

Projects and Corporate

Dorter Family Lawyers & Mediators

(Managing Partner)


Esteban Gomez



Holding Redlich


David Gartside

Project Finance

Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy

Sidley Austin, Singapore


Arjun Ghose

Structured Finance


Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas


M. Nikhilesh Rao

Disputes Resolution

Khaitan & Co





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