Asia Pacific Legal Market Summary And Partner Moves - February 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


Happy Lunar New Year! We wish everyone good health, happiness and success in the Year of the Ox.

With the number of COVID-19 cases in Hong Kong declining, the government announced that civil servants will return to their offices by late February, and it is expected that other businesses, including law firms, will begin to see more of their employees back in the office in March.

Despite the recent COVID-19 restrictions from prior months, legal recruiting activity continued its steady increase, although active processes did slow down a bit – as expected – over the lunar new year holiday. But recruiting has quickly regained momentum with law firms looking for M&A, capital markets, finance and data privacy lawyers. Most of the openings are at the mid-level to senior level, but we have a handful of junior openings within the M&A and capital markets spaces.


The Chinese New Year holidays have created the usual recruiting pause, but the end of February saw several law firms back in hiring mode with some firms having multiple openings in varied practice areas including FCPA, M&A and finance. Lawyers with overseas experience are highly desirable. Where relocation is contemplated, holding PRC citizenship status will be a critical decision-making factor due to the ongoing COVID-19 travel restrictions. 


The Singapore market continues to grow more confident and law firms are hiring more actively again. We are having conversations with multiple law firms who report hiring plans stemming from both replacement and growth opportunities.  

The active practices include M&A, venture capital, dispute resolution and project finance. The positions are available to mid-level and senior-level lawyer. A handful of junior openings are within the corporate practice.  

SINGAPORE - Interim Legal

After the lunar new year celebrations, we are back helping our clients look for the best interim legal talent in Singapore to support their urgent needs. There is increased demand from clients looking for mid-level lawyers with technology, media and telecommunications (TMT) experience. Also, seeking flexibility, several clients are requesting to hire interim lawyers for 12 months contracts instead of the traditional permanent hiring plan. Please reach out to have a confidential conversation if you are immediately available for work or are considering legal consulting as a career option. 


Despite ongoing COVID-19 concerns and precautions, law firms are operating mostly business as usual in Korea. Recruitment appears to be somewhat picking up with limited opportunities at major international and Korean law firms for highly qualified bilingual corporate and litigation associates. 


Due to the ongoing State of Emergency, many lawyers have returned to working principally from home. Despite the continuing uncertainty, there are quite a few associate-level recruiting efforts starting to move forward in areas such as project finance, capital markets and M&A. Strong language skills and credentials are a must for most roles. The in-house sector also continues to be active. 


The legal recruitment market continues with unprecedented high levels of activity across Sydney where COVID-19 cases have remained low since the New Year’s break. Although Melbourne is currently going through another hard lockdown to stop the spread of a recent outbreak, it also has seen a heightened level of legal recruitment activity across the market. Brisbane and Perth, however, have remained relatively slow.  

Corporate/M&A remains the practice area with the greatest demand, and we are working with multiple top-tier, global and national mid-tier firms across both Sydney and Melbourne who are eager to meet with corporate M&A associates and senior associates. In the past couple of weeks, we also have experienced a material increase in the number of law firms approaching us for hiring assistance for senior associates in the infrastructure and TMT practices. Moreover, litigators with regulatory experience remain in demand at several top-tier firms.  

With Australia’s border remaining closed, law firms are still unable to consider foreign nationals at this stage.

Partner Moves






David Swain

Intellectual Property

Lewis Silkin


(Senior Associate)

Hong Kong

Mengyu Lu

Capital Markets

Kirkland & Ellis

Sidley Austin

Hong Kong

Wayne Ma

Real Estate

Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner

DLA Piper, Shanghai

Hong Kong

James Ford

Investment Funds

Allen & Overy

O’Melveny & Myers

Hong Kong

Nick Stern

Dispute Resolution and Insolvency

Maples and Calder

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer


Hong Kong

Michael E. Arruda

Oil and Gas

King & Spalding

(Senior Counsel)

Baker Botts


Hong Kong

Janice Yau Garton

Real Estate

Stephenson Harwood

DLA Piper

Hong Kong

Melody Wang


Lang Yue



Andrew Roche



Latham & Watkins


Daniel Tan

Banking and Finance

CMS Holborn Asia

Clifford Chance



Marius Toime


K&L Gates Straits Law

Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner


Patrick Boardman


Clyde & Co

Wotton + Kearney


Elizabeth Hundt Russell


Clifford Chance

King & Wood Mallesons


Linda Evans


Herbert Smith Freehills

Clayton Utz


John Mosley

Private Equity and Finance

Corrs Chambers Westgarth

Minter Ellison


Emma Hodgman

Commercial Litigation

Thomson Geer



Iksoo Kim

Capital Markets

Paul Hastings

Greenberg Traurig



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