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Asia Pacific Legal Market Summary April 2023

(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 has been a volatile April in Hong Kong. We have encountered layoffs across the funds, capital markets, corporate and litigation practices. Recruitment activities have been slow, but we have a handful of openings within antitrust, litigation, FCPA, finance and international trade areas. The firms that are hiring would be open to considering candidates from overseas. Mandarin language skills are not required in some roles, and the firms are focused on training background, relevant experience and academic record. Lawyers with experience from top-tier firms are at an advantage.  

Mainland CHINA

It has been a steady and cautious market in Beijing and Shanghai. Firms are observing the pace of the market recovery and recruitment may pick up once business activities fully resume. Several disputes teams are active and have the capacity to add an extra headcount. We have an opening with one investigation team that would be open to considering US JD candidates. Lawyers with previous FCPA experience and US litigation experience are highly preferred. They are happy to relocate PRC nationals to Shanghai.


Singapore is buzzing again with traffic and tourists. The crazy residential rents that we have been facing in the last 12 months do seem to be plateauing. While the capital markets and private equity practices are slow, our energy clients are cranking back into life with regional and global deals. We also continue to see a demand for associates in investment funds, financial services regulatory and tech. However, we are always keen to speak with high-quality associates in any sector, as the market does move quickly sometimes. So, please contact us if you would like to find out more about our markets.

SINGAPORE - (Interim)

In this uncertain market, companies would benefit from adapting not just to the interim concept but also to new ways of engaging their workforce. No business is recession-proof, and the interim model is ideal for helping companies and firms weather market volatility. With the threat of yet another recession looming large, it’s a tool clients cannot afford to ignore. Once considered a fallback, interim talent has evolved into something much more over the last decade. Today, it’s a viable and powerful staffing option that unlocks a wealth of opportunities for both employers and candidates (The Evolution of Interim Legal Staffing).


It has been a very newsworthy couple of months in the international law firm market in Korea, with senior lawyers changing firms. There are also signs that there may be additional shake-ups in the near future. Along with change comes opportunity, which could be a bright light for associates looking to relocate to Korea. As the legal market in the US has become a bit more turbulent, there has been a tangible increase in the number of US-qualified associates looking to move to Seoul, so new roles would be very welcome. If you are one of those aspiring associates, we would be happy to discuss the market with you.


Although the outbound M&A market from Japan has not yet fully recovered to its pre-pandemic strength, there are positive signs on the horizon. There are several roles open for mid-level to senior corporate and finance associates with strong Japanese skills, particularly at the UK firms in town. Having the exact right skill set is more important than ever. Firms also continue to seek bengoshi associates at all levels, both for transactional and regulatory practices.


The Australian legal recruitment market, especially in Sydney and Melbourne, has remained relatively quiet over the past month with fewer open roles on offer at the major firms than at the beginning of the year. That said, appetite continues to exist for top-tier lawyers at the mid-level and senior level with M&A, investment funds, litigation and infrastructure experience.

Partner Moves






Sheng Chen

Capital Markets

Baker McKenzie

Clifford Chance (Counsel)

Hong Kong

Rongjing Zhao

Private Equity

Morrison & Foerster

Kirkland & Ellis

Beijing and Shanghai

Daniel Chia


Herbert Smith Freehills

Morgan, Lewis & Bockius


Danny Ong


Setia Law (Managing Partner)

Rajah & Tann


Wern-Jhien Yam


Setia Law (Director)

Rajah & Tann


Meiyen Tan


Norton Rose Fulbright

Oon & Bazul


Charmian Aw

Data Security

Squire Patton Boggs

Reed Smith (Counsel)


Nicholas Dunstone

Corporate Restructuring


Asia Research & Capital Management


Ting Chi Yen


Joseph Tan Jude Benny

Oon & Bazul


Yeong Wai Cheong

Real Estate

RHTLaw Asia

Drew & Napier


Taku Sonoura


Atsumi & Sakai

Nishimura & Asahi


Nhu Huynh



HWL Ebsworth


Michael O’Neill

Merger and Acquisition

Norton Rose Fulbright


Melbourne and Sydney

David Chew


Hall & Wilcox

HWL Ebsworth


Ben Bradstreet

Projects and Construction

Norton Rose Fulbright

King & Wood Mallesons


Sarah Roettgers

Founding Property

Hamilton Locke

Corrs Chambers Westgarth


Sonja Marsic

Risk Advisory

Norton Rose Fulbright

Australian Government Solicitor


Scarlet Reid

Employment and Safety


McCullough Robertson


Silvana Wood

Financial Services

Gilbert + Tobin



John JungKyum Kim

Insurance and Reinsurance

Dentons Lee

Shin & Kim


Christina Jiwon Park

Insurance and Reinsurance

Dentons Lee

Korean Re (Senior Legal Counsel)


Sarah Park

Project Finance

K&L Gates

White & Case


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