Asia Pacific Legal Market Summary March 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


Associate recruitment remained stable in Hong Kong. Openings are available in finance, white collar crime, employment, litigation, antitrust and funds. While possessing Mandarin language skills remains an advantage, we have more opportunities available for foreign-qualified lawyers this month. These opportunities are available to lawyers with at least 2 years of post-qualification experience. The firms are welcoming applicants from overseas and will relocate suitable candidates to Hong Kong.

Mainland CHINA

Recruitment activity remained steady in Beijing and Shanghai throughout March. Job openings are available mainly within the litigation and investigations spaces. Lawyers with at least 4 years of post-qualification experience are in demand and firms are always happy to relocate Chinese nationals who have gained a couple of years of experience in either the UK or US back to Beijing or Shanghai throughout March.


At the end of 2023’s first quarter, Singapore’s news remains positive and relatively buoyant. There are plenty of visitors, and several of our law firm clients have had global senior management in town—all a great sign of things to come this year and in the future. Despite this optimism, clients are displaying caution when it comes to hiring associates, which is more reflective of global conditions than local. We continue to see a demand for associates in investment funds, private equity and major projects. However, we are always keen to talk to high-quality associates in any sector as the market has the ability to move quickly. 

SINGAPORE - (Interim)

As employers and employees face an ever-changing job market, the interim model is becoming a new normal. Companies today are keen on flexible workers who can adapt to evolving work situations. Candidates who are able to leverage their transferable skills are able to provide value to companies whilst gaining experience across various industries [].


In February, Herbert Smith Freehills announced that it would be closing its Seoul office. Many lawyers were quite surprised and shaken by the news of this office closing as Herbert Smith’s Seoul office was well-respected and relatively large compared to many of the other foreign firm offices in Korea. Nonetheless, the firm says that it plans to continue its strong Korea practice from its other offices. To balance this sad news, Watson Farley announced that it is opening a new Seoul office, with partners hired from K&L Gates and Herbert Smith. With this in the background, several other international firms in Seoul continue to look opportunistically to add partners and there are a handful of associate roles open at both international and Korean firms.


The Tokyo legal market is feeling back to pre-pandemic days, with lawyers again eager to relocate to Japan and firms expanding their ranks. There are numerous associate roles open at the international firms but having the exact right skill set is more important than ever. Firms are seeking corporate bengoshi associates at all levels and there are new roles for disputes and regulatory lawyers as well. On the foreign-qualified lawyer side, the roles are primarily in the areas of finance and M&A. Japanese fluency is still required for most but not all of those open positions.


Over the past month we have continued to see an increasing demand for major projects and infrastructure associates with development experience across renewable energy projects. Demand for corporate/M&A as well as banking and finance lawyers has slowed, but interest remains for top-quality talent at the associate level. Law firms continue to reiterate their interest in meeting with top-tier UK-qualified lawyers with transactional experience who are looking to relocate to Australia.

Partner Moves






Melody Chan

Dispute Resolution

Allen & Overy

White & Case

Hong Kong

Isabella Wong



PIMCO (Senior Legal Counsel)

Hong Kong

Mei Yen Tan

Restructuring and Insolvency

Ascendant Legal

Oon & Bazul


Stella Cramer


Clifford Chance

Norton Rose Fulbright


Matthew Nortcliff

Investment Funds

Goodwin Procter



Nazim Khan





Akihiko Takamatsu

Banking, Finance and Restructuring

Norton Rose Fulbright

Clifford Chance


Jason Lee


Yoon & Yang

Kim & Chang


Sung Jin Ro


Yoon & Yang

Versum Materials


Song Feng Hong


Yoon & Yang

Bae Kim & Lee


Suzie Leask


Hall & Wilcox

Australian Business Lawyers and Advisers


Partner moves are obtained from both public sources and Major, Lindsey & Africa market intelligence. The list is not intended to represent Major, Lindsey & Africa as the consultancy involved in the moves, although some moves may have been brokered by Major, Lindsey & Africa.


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