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.
Summer has not slowed recruitment in the Hong Kong legal market. Corporate has been a very busy area this month, with most firms looking for all levels of corporate lawyers with strong corporate finance experience. Mix corporate practice, pure IPO or M&A practices are interested in seeing talents as well. Mandarin is always important for transactional roles, but there are a few Magic Circle firms open to look at strong non-Mandarin speaking candidates from the London and Australia markets. Dispute resolution and banking and finance are other busy areas. Most of these roles are replacement positions or growth positions from senior movements. These partner moves have led to the restructuring of many teams/firm, creating new openings for associates. Within the financial services sector, structured finance lawyers are in a high demand and most of the banks are keen to recruit at the mid-level.
Singapore remains a replacement market, which seems to be the message of the year from law firm clients on the ground. There is a great deal of focus on sharing internal talent, relocating people from other markets and closing offices, so opportunities are few and far between. We encourage associates to consider their options carefully—being such a small market, it is easy for a CV to be submitted to the same law firm numerous times, which is a poor reflection on your engagement for a new move. For open opportunities, your experience needs to be on point and you should have an excellent deal sheet and be hardworking and ambitious. The busiest areas are in finance and capital markets.
International law firms have been struggling to recruit for their Beijing offices. There are a few openings in the US capital markets and US corporate spaces but only a small talent pool available. Firms are open to looking at strong candidates from Hong Kong, New York or China and relocate them to the city. Mandarin language skills are one of the mandatory criteria for the positions. In Shanghai, FCPA practices are busy. Most firms, especially US law firms, are keen to look for junior and mid-level lawyers to join. Prior experience is required for those positions.
Seoul remains a steady market. We have seen an increase in hiring opportunities this year from the international firms, as well as some demand for Korean speakers in Hong Kong/Tokyo for Korea practices. Applications for these roles have been high, and there is a lot of competition from an excellent caliber of talent. Likewise, the recent influx of junior talent looking to relocate from the US to Asia having been unsuccessful in the visa lottery has seen a number of local Korean firms recruit in volume at the junior level. Fluent Korean language skills and native-level English are still in high demand, but planning and diligence should be taken into account for any future moves.