Asia Pacific Legal Market Summary And Partner Moves - March 2018


(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 market has picked up with opportunities across different areas and levels. The busiest practice areas include corporate, capital markets, litigation and finance. There are also a few opportunities that do not require Mandarin language skills, which do not often appear in the market. They fall under the M&A and finance spaces and are available for senior lawyers with at least six years’ post-qualification experience. We foresee the market will remain busy for at least the next couple of months.


Corporate and FCPA are the busiest practice areas in China with both Shanghai and Beijing presenting opportunities for associates at the junior-mid level. Likewise, we have recently seen an increase in investment funds work. According to associates on the ground, the pipeline of corporate deals for this year is significant, and they expect a lot of deal flow in the coming months.


The Singapore recruitment market has been steady, though mainly replacement roles are available. We have seen an interesting trend that more associates are looking to relocate to Hong Kong, Beijing or Shanghai for exposure. Senior lawyers are more interested in relocating to China for career progression. The market in China is busier and lawyers view that as an opportunity to build their own business on a high-performing team. Firms are generally smaller to which their ability will receive high recognition. Junior to mid-level lawyers are more interested in relocating to Hong Kong; the pay is generally more attractive and they are expecting to do quality work in the Hong Kong market.

In Singapore, there are a few openings in the project and energy sector. Power and infrastructure experience or project finance experience are in demand. Strong lawyers with such background will be able to get attractions to multiple firms in the market.


South Korea remains steady with opportunities focused around corporate M&A and PE, as well as more general transactional practices. 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.


Sydney remains busy across banking and finance, corporate (M&A and ECM), IT/TMT and real estate. Work across litigation/dispute resolution has significantly picked up in the last month with most large firms having needs for disputes lawyers across all PQE levels.

Melbourne continues to mirror Sydney, however, on a slightly smaller scale. Demand for real estate lawyers in Melbourne remains strong, and demand for corporate and finance lawyers has been steady since mid-2017.

In Perth, we are seeing a slight uptick in demand for energy and resource lawyers. Demand for corporate, real estate and construction lawyers remains high within the select top-tier and mid-tier firms in Perth.

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Recent Partner Moves in Asia Pacific






Benjamin Su

Capital Markets

Latham & Watkins

Kirkland & Ellis

Hong Kong

Jackie Kahng


Ropes & Gray

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett

Hong Kong

Richard Sharpe

White Collar and International Risk

Kirkland & Ellis

Clifford Chance (Consultant)

Hong Kong

Mike Suen



DLA Piper

Hong Kong

Frank Bi



Slaughter and May (Counsel)

Hong Kong

Li Han


O’Melveny & Myers

Shanda Group Pte. Ltd. (Group General Counsel)

Hong Kong

Melanie McKean

Dispute Resolution


Norton Rose Fulbright


Angela Summersby



HWL Ebsworth


Michael Lundberg

Commercial Litigation and International Arbitration

Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan

King & Wood Mallesons (Managing Partner)


Nick Dingemans


Watson Farley & Williams

Norton Rose Fulbright


Edward “Ted” Johnson

Real Estate

ZelusTech Foreign Law Office

Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe


These listed partner moves are obtained from both public sources and Major, Lindsey & Africa. This 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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