Asia Pacific Legal Market Summary And Partner Moves - April 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


Since the Easter break, we have seen a flurry of recruitment activity in the Hong Kong market. Corporate is making a big comeback at the mid- to senior level, and firms are prepared to pay well for associates with strong skill sets. US capital markets and funds are other areas where we are seeing a lot of activity. The consistent theme throughout these practices though is experience—firms are largely looking for at least 2–3 years of experience from associates before considering them for these practices, but at that level, there is then considerable flexibility to attract the top talent.


The Chinese market remains active. Most of the firms are hiring cautiously, but it does not mean that they are not looking at strong talents. We are assisting firms in hiring candidates from corporate M&A, banking and funds sectors. We have also seen some positions arise in real estate and FCPA sectors. Law firms are looking at associates within 2–6 years of experience.


The market remains steady. UK firms are active with recruitment activities with most of the roles falling under corporate M&A and funds sectors. Banking and finance is also a hot area in which a few firms are recruiting for mid-level lawyers. A few US firms are recruiting on replacement basis; they are looking at associates with 2–6 years of experience.


With some office openings, there is recruitment activity on the associate side. There is still a heavy focus on corporate work, although we have seen a small flicker of interest in disputes lawyers with a couple of law firms hiring at the junior-mid level. Overall, the deal-flow in Seoul still remains strong with the key players still dominating the market.


Japanese companies continue to have a strong interest in seeking acquisitions overseas generally and in the US in particular so that they can provide sustainable growth for the future overcoming the demographic challenges that Japan will face over the next decades. Due to the heavy demand, Japanese-qualified lawyers with 3 years PQE+ are sought after across firms and practice areas. There has also been a significant rise in demand for Japanese-qualified lawyers with real estate experience while demand for UK, AU, NZ or NY–qualified project finance lawyers at all levels remains high.


The upcoming Federal Election in May has put some uncertainty into the Australian market; however, generally speaking, the Australian legal market continues to be in good shape.

Demand across the Sydney and Melbourne markets remains strong within top tier and international law firms looking for banking & finance and infrastructure/major project lawyers at all levels. There is continued demand for corporate/M&A lawyers at the mid- and senior associate levels. Skill sets across public M&A and equity capital markets are in demand by several firms.

Firms are continuing to look to hire Australian-qualified lawyers when they can; however, firms are open to sponsoring UK, New Zealand and South African–qualified lawyers with high level experience who wish to relocate to Australia. Demand is stemming from finance, corporate, infrastructure and technology practice groups. In recent months, we have seen a couple of firms in Sydney hire top-tier Indian-qualified lawyers with top Indian law school credentials; however, any potential demand will be limited to those lawyers with debt, leveraged, acquisition and corporate finance experience.

Partner Moves

Partners Practice To From Location
Will Cai Corporate Cooley Skadden Hong Kong
Allan Leung Litigation Dentons Hogan Lovells Hong Kong
Sheng Wu M&A Mayer Brown DLA Piper Hong Kong
Wanda Woo Capital Markets Wilson Sonsini Kirkland & Ellis Hong Kong
Ye Yurong Capital Markets JunHe Han Kun Law Offices Hong Kong
Gary Yin Disputes Jingtian & Gongcheng RPC Hong Kong
Ben Yates Disputes Jingtian & Gongcheng RPC (Senior Consultant) Hong Kong
Lishi Fong Banking and Finance Harneys Norton Rose Fulbright (Of Counsel) Singapore
Ong Sim Ho Tax Drew & Napier Ong Sim Ho LLC Singapore
Warren Denny Real Estate Piper Alderman K&L Gates Brisbane
Simone Mitchell IP MinterEllison K&L Gates Sydney
Nigel Lokan IP MinterEllison K&L Gates Sydney
Dale M. Araki M&A K&L Gates Morrison & Foerster Tokyo
Zenya Onishi Banking White & Case Linklaters (Counsel) Tokyo
Tony Andriotis Arbitration Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan Hughes Hubbard & Reed (Counsel) Tokyo
Jun Hee Kim Arbitration Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer Hyundai Heavy Industries (General Counsel and Vice President) Seoul
Dharnendra Kumar Rana Litigation Nitya Tax Associates Advaita Legal (Senior Principal) Delhi


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