Asia Pacific Legal Market Summary And Partner Moves - June 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

HONG KONG

Hong Kong’s COVID-19 fourth wave has finally ended per a recent declaration of a government pandemic adviser. Some social distancing rules and travel restrictions have been relaxed. As of 29  June, only holders of a Hong Kong Permanent Identity Card, Hong Kong Identity Card, Hong Kong SAR passport and residents with Hong Kong Document of Identity are authorized to enter Hong Kong. Travellers arriving in Hong Kong are subject to 7-21 days of compulsory quarantine depending on the country and their status of vaccination.

Associate-level recruiting in Hong Kong remains active with strong demand for corporate and finance lawyers. Demand is sufficiently strong and law firms are prepared to relocate overseas legal professionals with relevant experience to Hong Kong. Although there is a preference for on-the-ground candidates, US and UK firms are presently relocating lawyers from Singapore, Australia, London and the US. Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you are interested in learning more about firms that are hiring in Hong Kong and overseas.   

CHINA

In June, recruitment activity remained steady in Beijing and Shanghai. Recruitment is occurring mainly within the corporate M&A, capital markets, finance and FCPA practices.

We have seen a few law firms relocate PRC citizens from the US to Hong Kong in the past couple of months. Given ongoing travel restrictions and visa application delays, hiring foreign lawyers remains a more complicated process, and law firms are less inclined to interview lawyers requiring visa sponsorships. Persistent COVID-19 measures (at the time of this writing) require travellers to present a negative test result prior to travel into China and to test again and then quarantine upon arrival.

SINGAPORE

Law firms are expressing more confidence in local hiring. It is moving in the right direction and we expect to see more recruitment efforts within the market. There are a few new openings within the capital markets, M&A and finance spaces. The positions are available to mid-level and senior-level lawyers.

In recent months, we have reported law firm business activity in the US market in previous newsletters. Our US colleagues inform us that law firms are generally open to considering Singaporean lawyers who are interested in working in the US. The visa application process for Singaporeans in the US is simplified and we can assist further if you are interested to learn more about the unprecedented legal recruiting activity in the US market. With colleagues in 19 US offices, we are strongly positioned to leverage our long-standing relationships with law firms in each key US legal market.

SINGAPORE - Interim Legal

The technology industry remains busy, and we have seen an increase in demand for candidates in the healthcare, energy and banking industries. There seems to be a shortage of candidates and those who remain available are placed into positions quickly. Due to persistent hiring freezes on permanent hiring, clients have turned to, and often prefer, contract positions. Moreover, we are seeing an increase in clients offering assignments lasting 12 months or longer, which appears to be attracting candidates who formerly were interested primarily in permanent roles but are now keen to explore interim opportunities.

SOUTH KOREA

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 corporate and litigation associates as well as open in-house positions.

JAPAN

With Tokyo still under a state of emergency, most lawyers are still working principally from home. Nonetheless, many firms are getting busier and there are quite a few associate-level recruiting efforts underway for capital markets and M&A associates. Firms are finding it difficult to fill new positions given the inability to get visas for lawyers currently working outside of Japan. Strong language skills and credentials are a must. The in-house sector also continues to be active with lots of great roles open for bilingual lawyers with 5+ years of experience.

AUSTRALIA

June signals the end of the Australian Financial Year. This is a busy time of the year both for lawyers who are looking to close deals before the June 30 deadline and for law firm HR departments as they prepare to conduct performance and pay reviews across their respective firms.

So far in June (and as we reported in May), corporate/M&A continues to be the primary in-demand practice area for most firms with almost every major firm continuing to have needs in this space. Banking and finance, financial services and regulatory, infrastructure, construction and litigation are also areas with continued demand across the market.

With the travel bubble now open with New Zealand, Australian law firms are considering New Zealand lawyers looking to transfer their career to Australia.

Partner Moves

Partners

Practice

To

From

Location

Christopher Betts

Corporate

Grab

(General Counsel)

Skadden

Hong Kong

Eugene Yeung

Aviation Finance

K&L Gates

Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman (Counsel)

Hong Kong

Edwin Chan

Private Equity

Goodwin Procter

Paul Weiss

(Counsel)

Hong Kong

Khoon Jin Tan

Corporate

CBC Group (Managing Director)

Winston & Strawn

Hong Kong

Huen Wong

Arbitration and Mediation

Huen Wong & Co

Simmons & Simmons

Hong Kong

Erica Wong

Banking and Finance

Deacons

Ogier

Hong Kong

Han Bao

Private Wealth

Haiwen & Partners

Zhong Lun Law Firm

Shanghai

Rahul Guptan

Capital Markets

White & Case

Clifford Chance

Singapore

Christopher Michael

Insurance

Moray & Agnew

EMP|Lawyers

Sydney

Stephen Hardy

Labor and Employment

K&L Gates

Baker McKenzie

Sydney

Tom Young

Corporate

K&L Gates

Norton Rose Fulbright

Brisbane

Caroline Snow

Corporate

Dentons

AJ & Co. Lawyers

Brisbane

Alex Ninis

Corporate and Commercial

Hamilton Locke

DWF

Melbourne

Michael Lundberg

Disputes

Jones Day

Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan

Perth

Matthew Blycha

Construction Disputes

Ashurst

HFW

Perth

Eun Sang Hwang

Corporate

Greenberg Traurig

Paul Hastings

Seoul

Jang Hyuk Yeo

Corporate

Greenberg Traurig

Lee & Ko

Seoul

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