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Asia Pacific Legal Market Summary And Partner Moves - March 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

A recent COVID-19 outbreak in the Hong Kong Midlevels directly impacted employees in Hong Kong law firms (and banks) causing several firms to close their offices for cleaning and a return to WFH. The outbreak has been taken in stride as there has not been any meaningful slowdown to associate recruitment activity. 

Special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs), which offer an alternative way of raising funds, are creating many busy capital markets teams. The increased activity and deal flow have also resulted in greater hiring demand. In addition, we also see an increase in HKIPO job opportunities, especially at the mid- to senior level. Investigation lawyers remain in high demand and law firms are keen to speak with candidates with US sanctions experience.

We also have observed an interesting trend where law firms in the US and Singapore markets are reaching out to Hong Kong-based, US-qualified, capital markets lawyers. Lawyers who do not require a visa to work in those markets are very desirable. If you are considering a relocation to the US or Singapore, please do not hesitate to get in touch.  

CHINA

The Beijing and Shanghai markets remain steady this month. We received a few mandates from UK and US law firms looking for M&A, capital markets and FCPA lawyers at the mid- to senior level. Junior FCPA lawyers are in demand in Shanghai.   

Lawyers who are PRC citizens, currently working overseas and looking to return to China continue to remain in high demand. Law firms are interested in speaking with commonwealth-trained lawyers, which are rare in the China market.

SINGAPORE

The Singapore legal market remains busy as Asia and the world begin their emergence from the COVID-19 crisis. There are a host of law firms considering an office opening in Singapore, and while this is partner and practice group led, it will provide some interesting opportunities for strong associate talent.

Globally, our law firm clients continue to report a very strong finish to 2020, which has led to unusually busy US and UK hiring markets. This confidence is trickling through to Singapore and hiring is being approved again in almost all practice areas.

The transactions sector has been particularly active these last few months. Our clients with well-developed regional finance teams, energy/infrastructure (development and finance) practices, and M&A/private equity offerings remain busy and this will translate into more hiring in 2021.

We currently see active hiring into PE/VC, construction/projects and project finance. Although it’s still only the dawn of 2021, our law firm clients are planning for growth and a more fluid market in the second half of the year. In Singapore, the streets are busier and we are seeing a gradual return to the office after over a year of work from home.

SINGAPORE - Interim Legal

We continue to see more clients turning to interim resourcing where there is an urgent need. We also have seen several clients preferring to hire on a 12 months contract basis instead of a traditional permanent hire, which can take a long time to obtain internal approval and often involves a time-consuming interview process. Legal consulting is no longer just applicable to short-term work; one-year contracts are something that clients are actively entertaining and offering.   

Good people know good people. We recently have had several successful referrals of good candidates – like you – who were friends or former colleagues (of the referrer) and looking for work in the legal and compliance industry in Singapore. Please continue to send your referrals to us and reach out for a confidential discussion.  

SOUTH KOREA

Law firms are operating mostly business as usual in Korea as the government starts to roll out the COVID vaccine. There are currently 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 the extended State of Emergency, which lasted through the end of March in Tokyo, many lawyers continued working principally from home. Nonetheless, many firms are getting busier and 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 (but not all) roles. The in-house sector also continues to be active.

AUSTRALIA

The legal recruitment market remains active, especially in New South Wales, where at the time of this writing, no new COVID-19 cases had been reported for nearly two straight months. Most large top-tier and global firms report having multiple job needs in their Sydney offices at both the senior associate and associate levels and across a range of practice areas. Most of the hiring is due to growth and a general increase in business/workflow. The Melbourne legal market is showing greater signs of life; however, Brisbane and Perth continue to remain relatively quiet.

Through the second half of February and first half of March, we saw a significant uptick in demand for tech/TMT lawyers, particularly in Sydney. Corporate/M&A demand also remains high, particularly at the senior associate level with multiple opportunities available at large firms. An increasing number of firms also seek construction senior associates, particularly those with front-end capability.

With Australia’s border remaining closed, law firms remain unable to consider foreign nationals for their open positions.

Partner Moves

Partners

Practice

To

From

Location

Dominic Tsun

Capital Markets

Sidley Austin

Kirkland & Ellis

Hong Kong

Norman Hui

Equity Capital Markets

Dentons

Eversheds Sutherland

Hong Kong

Rachel Han

Equity Capital Markets

Dentons

Eversheds Sutherland

Hong Kong

David Yun

Mergers and Acquisitions

Simpson Thacher (Senior Counsel)

Kirkland & Ellis

Hong Kong

Rachael Shek

Disputes

Clyde & Co

Eversheds Sutherland

Hong Kong

Arthur Tso

Capital Markets

DLA Piper

Kirkland & Ellis

Hong Kong

Stuart Miller

Aviation Finance

Clyde & Co

Mayer Brown

Hong Kong

Soo Khim Keoy

Disputes

Clifford Chance

Withers

Hong Kong

Jonathan Wong

Disputes

Clifford Chance

Freshfields

Hong Kong

Jason Toms

Shipping

Stephenson Harwood (Counsel)

Reed Smith

Hong Kong

Xiaoxi Lin

Mergers and Acquisitions

Linklaters

Kirkland & Ellis

Hong Kong

Alessandro Nolet

Banking

Linklaters

White & Case

Hong Kong

Jason Xu

Capital Markets

Davis Polk

Freshfields, Hong Kong

Beijing

Yiming Liu

Capital Markets

Cooley

O'Melveny & Myers

(Counsel)

Shanghai

Louis Meng

Mergers and Acquisitions

Broad & Bright

Blank Rome

Shanghai

Peter Zaman

Finance

Holman Fenwick Willan

Reed Smith, London

Singapore

Dan Perera

Energy and Resources

Holman Fenwick Willan

Reed Smith

Singapore

Piyush Gupta

Transportation and Logistics

RHTLaw

Ince

Singapore

Raymond Tong

Corporate

Rajah & Tann

Clifford Chance

Singapore

Amanda Lees

Disputes

King & Wood Mallesons

Simmons & Simmons

Singapore

Rodman Bundy

Dispute Resolution

Squire Patton Boggs

Eversheds Sutherland

Singapore

Jeremiah Huang

Corporate

ZICO Insights Law

RHTLaw

Singapore

Lada Shelkovnikova

Hotels & Hospitality

Watson Farley & Williams

Withers

Singapore

Christopher Sweet

Medical Malpractice and Insurance

Finlaysons Lawyers

MinterEllison

Adelaide

Damian Hegarty

Employment

HBA Legal

DWF

Brisbane

Courtney Steele

Health Law

HBA Legal

Ashurst

Brisbane

Nicola Martin

Employment

Squire Patton Boggs

McCabe Curwood

Sydney

Sid Maharaj

Financial Services

Ashurst

Deloitte

Sydney

Tony Morris

Risk Management

Ashurst

Deloitte

Sydney

Elena Lambros

Financial Services

Ashurst

Deloitte

Sydney

Philip Hope

Risk Advisory

Ashurst

Deloitte

Sydney

Nicholas Mavrakis

Disputes Resolution

Ashurst

Clayton Utz

Sydney

Jacques Jacobs

Insurance

Clyde & Co

Norton Rose Fulbright

Sydney

Brent Henderson

Construction

Squire Patton Boggs

DWF

Sydney

Robert Williams

Hotels & Hospitality

Watson Farley & Williams

Withers

Sydney

Alison Haines

Tax

Johnson Winter & Slattery

Carlton & United Breweries

Melbourne

Melina Sehr

Risk Advisory and Wealth Management

Ashurst

PwC

Melbourne

Bryn Hardcastle

Corporate

Allens

HWL Ebsworth Lawyers

Perth

Daniel Sae-Chin Kim

Mergers and Acquisitions

O’Melveny & Myers

Paul Hastings

Seoul

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