Asia Pacific Legal Market Summary And Partner Moves - November 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


Legal recruitment remains active at most law firms in Hong Kong. Current demand calls for associates at the junior to senior levels in the corporate, litigation, banking and finance, and funds practices. Lawyers possessing strong Chinese language skills and a couple of years of practice experience will gain the most traction.

With demand for associates being so strong, law firms are open to relocating overseas legal professionals with experience relevant to the Hong Kong legal market. Despite the preference for on-the-ground candidates, US and UK firms are actively relocating lawyers from Singapore, Australia, London and the US. In an ongoing development, Singapore-based law firms are keen to hire Hong Kong-based lawyers or other lawyers who trained or gained practice experience in Hong Kong. These overseas lawyers sought by firms in Singapore would not be required to have South East Asia deal experience; the firms are specifically looking for Hong Kong market deal experience gained in high profile and complex deals.


During the month of November, recruitment activity continued to remain steady in Beijing and Shanghai. Current associate-level opportunities lie within the FCPA and M&A practices, particularly at the mid- to senior-level, with most firms seeking candidates possessing foreign bar qualification and those who do not require visa sponsorship to work in mainland China.

Due to visa limitations and ongoing COVID-19 challenges in the US, we also are seeing lawyers who are PRC nationals returning from the US back to mainland China for new job opportunities or transferring internally to join the China office of their current firm.


COVID-19 remains top of the agenda in Singapore as restrictions slowly loosen. Still, travel has resumed, families are eating out again and there is hope for further relaxation of restrictions as Christmas and 2022 approach.

International law firms in Singapore remain busy with strong activity reflected in every practice. The corporate and energy sectors seem particularly active with clear demand for high quality M&A, funds and PE talent in addition to associates with strong project and project finance skills and experience. As ever, strong academics and practical experience within top firms remain important.

The banking and finance space also is active with top-tier practices keen to add capability at every level.

With travel happening again and employment passes being granted, our clients will consider hiring well-credentialed associates from outside of Singapore in addition to strong Singapore-based associates. 

SINGAPORE - Interim Legal

Although we are coming to the end of the year, the interim legal market shows no sign of slowing in Singapore. In fact, there is an increase in requests from companies for interim talent. Employers seek to engage us to ease workloads for busy in-house lawyers and meet business demands. It is currently a candidate-driven market meaning that legal professionals looking or a new role/project are being presented with multiple offers. We currently have several contract roles (with a 6–12 months commitment) in Singapore across various industries including banking and hospitality, as well as within a Singapore-listed company, and MNC giants.


Law firms are operating mostly business as usual in Korea although international business travel remains difficult. There are an increasing number of corporate associate hiring opportunities at major international and Korean law firms for highly qualified bilingual associates. Litigation associate hiring has been more active than for corporate roles in the past six months and there continues to be some opportunities in this area, particularly in international arbitration.


With Tokyo out of its state of emergency and over 76% of the population now vaccinated, lawyers are slowly returning to the office. International firms, taking their cues from their US/UK headquarters on return to office policies, are beginning to ask associates to work from the office on a hybrid basis. It remains unclear, however, when the government will resume issuing business visas to those who have been waiting to enter Japan since 2020. A number of firms are looking to hire associates in the areas of private equity, corporate/M&A, finance and real estate. Firms are particularly interested in hiring bengoshi with top credentials and large firm experience. The in-house sector also continues to be very active, with lots of great roles open for bilingual lawyers with three-plus years of experience.


The war for talent within the Australian private practice legal market is placing upward pressure on salaries, especially in Sydney and Melbourne. Salaries are increasing as firms look to retain their talent while looking to attract lawyers from competing firms.


Corporate/M&A continues to be the main practice area in demand followed closely by banking and finance. Financial services and regulatory lawyers as well as litigators with experience in defense of class actions and regulatory investigations are also highly sought after by several top-tier and large global law firms.


Law firms once again are eager to meet with foreign-based commonwealth-qualified lawyers. There is particular interest to meet with UK-qualified corporate and banking and finance lawyers looking to relocate to Australia. 


Partner Moves






Paul Moloney

Corporate and Securities

Mayer Brown


Hong Kong

Kristi Swartz

Intellectual Property and Technology

DLA Piper

Swartz, Binnersley & Associates

Hong Kong

Nigel Binnersley

Commercial Litigation and Arbitration


Swartz, Binnersley & Associates

Hong Kong

Wei Kang

Private Wealth

Stephenson Harwood

DLA Piper (Counsel)

Hong Kong

Kingsley Ong




Hong Kong

Alan Yeung

U.S. Securities and Debt Offering

Clifford Chance

Shearman & Sterling

Hong Kong

Yeoh Lian Chuan

Private Wealth

Withers KhattarWong

Sabara Law


Koh Chin Chin

Private Wealth

Withers KhattarWong



Goh Eng Cher

Private Wealth

Allen & Gledhill

JP Morgan


Henry Winter

Dispute Resolution

Mishcon de Reya

QBE Insurance


Lyndal Draper

Real Estate


Piper Alderman (Special Counsel)


Kirsty Faichen


Corrs Chambers Westgarth

Herbert Smith Freehills


Anthony Longland


Corrs Chambers Westgarth

Herbert Smith Freehills


Joshua Saunders


Baker McKenzie



Alexandra Bartlett





Sean Conaty


Hunton Andrews Kurth

Hogan Lovells


Woojae Kim

Mergers and Acquisitions

O’Melveny & Myers

Kim & Chang



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