Asia Pacific Legal Market Summary And Partner Moves - November 2021


(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


The Hong Kong legal recruitment market remained steady in October. Interestingly, we have encountered more urgent searches than usual given the ongoing need for talent. Hiring is occurring from the junior to senior level with Chinese language skills, as ever, being highly preferred. Active practices include TMT, employment, US capital markets and M&A.


Recruitment activity is solid in Beijing and Shanghai with opportunities in the FCPA and corporate M&A sectors. Mid-level lawyers with two years of previous experience are in particular demand. Lawyers with overseas experience remain highly sought after by law firms. 


With new firms coming to market and established firms showing strong activity and financial performance, new opportunities for strong associate talent are available in the current market.

Demand stems from our clients with well-developed regional finance teams, energy/infrastructure (development and finance) practices and within M&A/private equity, TMT and disputes practices.

We also have active needs in the PE space with our key US firm clients. At the junior and mid-level, there is strong demand in the finance space, with some of our Magic Circle law firm clients wanting to grow this practice offering. 

SINGAPORE - Interim Legal

There is a lot of movement in the market. With ongoing work-from-home realities and persistent travel restrictions, candidates have more time to think about what they are looking for in a job/career. This, in part, seems to have led to what some in the media are calling the great resignation. As legal professionals assess their career paths, the availability of contract roles allows them to explore different industries and new aspects of legal work.

Astonishingly, in the current market candidates are receiving multiple offers and strong counter-offers as companies seek to maintain their legal personnel. Not surprisingly, the factors leading to decisions on which company to join are (increasingly) general flexibility including the option to continue to work from home, the financial package and growth opportunities.  


Law firms are operating mostly business as usual in Korea although international business travel remains difficult. There are currently limited hiring opportunities at major international and Korean law firms for highly qualified bilingual associates as well as open in-house positions. For associates, three or more years of prior US experience is particularly helpful. Litigation associate hiring has been more active than corporate in the past six months, but the cross-border transactional market is showing new signs of life, leading to roles for corporate associates as well.


With Tokyo finally out of its state of emergency, more lawyers are starting to return to the office. Many associates are still working principally from home but will likely be encouraged to spend more time in the office soon. There are quite a few associate-level recruiting efforts underway including hiring in the areas of capital markets, M&A and investigations. Firms are finding it difficult to fill new positions given the continuing inability to get visas for lawyers currently working outside of Japan. Strong language skills and top credentials are musts. The in-house sector also continues to be very active with lots of great roles open for bilingual lawyers with 5+ years of experience.


Sydney has emerged out of its four-month long lockdown while Melbourne will end its own at the end of October. Law firms in both cities will be taking a staggered approach to getting lawyers and staff back into the office, starting with those who are fully vaccinated.

Recruitment continues to be as busy as ever across the legal private practice market with firms looking to lock in new hires ahead of summer and the Christmas break.

Corporate M&A continues to be the main practice in demand followed closely by banking and finance. Financial services and regulatory lawyers and litigators with experience in defence of class actions and regulatory investigations also are being actively recruited by many of the top-tier and large global law firms.

More good news for the Australian legal market and the wider economy is the plan for Australia’s international border reopening in November. Foreign nationals, students and those on work visas likely will be allowed to enter by early 2022. This news has spurred interviewing and law firms are, again, extending offers to foreign-qualified lawyers based overseas.

Partner Moves






David Blumenfeld

Real Estate


Paul Hastings

Hong Kong

Kathleen Aka

Restructuring & Insolvency

Weil, Gotshal & Manges

Ropes & Gray

Hong Kong

Phil Culhane

Private Investment Funds

Goodwin Procter

Culhane & Associate

Hong Kong

Elyn Xing

Private Investment Funds

Goodwin Procter

Debevoise & Plimpton

Hong Kong

Daniel Margulies

Financial Restructuring


Kirkland & Ellis

Hong Kong

Suzanne Johnston

Private Wealth

Stephenson Harwood

UBS (Director and Senior legal counsel)


Priscilla Lua


Oon & Bazul

Cavenagh Law (Senior Associate)


Mark Veitch

Energy and Infrastructure


Herbert Smith Freehills


Siddhartha Sivaramakrishnan

Securities and Corporate Finance

McDermott Will & Emery

Herbert Smith Freehills


Naoya Shiota

M&A and Private Equity

White & Case

Mori Hamada & Matsumoto


Stephen Putnins


Mills Oakley

Norton Rose Fulbright (Special Counsel)


Sungjin Kang


White & Case

Latham & Watkins



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