Asia Pacific Legal Market Summary November 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


We have seen a slight uptick in recruitment this month in Hong Kong. While some firms are interested in seeing CVs and interviewing candidates, they have shared that the headcounts will only be approved in December or in early 2024. Firms are cautious about costs, and utilization is still the focus for most teams. Partners are open to having conversations with strong candidates, especially in the banking, litigation and funds spaces.

Mainland CHINA

It remains a cautious market in Beijing and Shanghai. Firms are selectively looking for candidates with intellectual property and FCPA investigations experience. Chinese nationals with overseas experience and who are looking to return to mainland China are in demand. We have also seen an entry of Singaporean law firms into the mainland China market. It is interesting timing and has raised interest from candidates in the industry.


As we wind down the year, business continues to be robust in Singapore, and there are still strong levels of global interest in our City State. Whilst we don’t think there will be any further new firm announcements in 2023, global firms continue to show significant interest in opening here. While associate hiring remains cautious in all areas, our clients are hiring in the restructuring, insolvency, disputes, M&A and private equity spaces. Activity within the energy and infrastructure sector also remains strong, with talent in demand across all disciplines (development/corporate, finance and disputes). Good candidates with funds and commercial technology experience will also garner interest.

SINGAPORE - (Interim)

With the year coming to an end, lawyers in Singapore are busy reconnecting over various networking events such as galas and ceremonies. It is apparent that value is given to being a part of the legal community, and in a post-Covid era, the ability to meet face to face showcases this. We are witnessing many clients planning their resources for next year and often they are looking for someone who can start before the end of the year, so please reach out to Cynthia Barnardiston or Prasanna Karunamoorthy for a confidential discussion if you are immediately available.


As we near the end of 2023, the outbound legal market in Seoul has not yet fully recovered from the pandemic lull due to global economic factors. We are seeing increased competition among firms for deals and also for talent, particularly at the partner level if an individual is able to bring in a new roster of clients/work. Hopefully after bonus season is completed at the international firms, we will see some new roles for associates announced as we start the new year.


The most significant market news this month is the addition of two US M&A partners to Freshfields, joining from Latham and Mayer Brown in Tokyo. As much of Freshfields’ corporate work in Tokyo has traditionally had a European orientation, it will be interesting to see how this growth impacts the team’s client base and whether it results in additional associate hiring next year. Of course, the approval of the merger between Allen & Overy and Shearman & Sterling has reverberated globally. Hiring is expected to be quiet during the integration of the two firms’ Tokyo offices, which will take several months, but there may be room for more associates from next spring. In the meantime, as we head toward the holiday season, associate hiring remains slow, particularly at the international firms – but there will be lots to watch for next year as we start to see the repercussions of this year’s moves.


Over the last month, we have seen demand for mid-level M&A associates with energy and resource (especially the renewable) sector experience, while demand for major project/ infrastructure lawyers has remained steady. Interestingly, several roles in international arbitration have also arisen over the last few weeks. The overall market remains relatively busy but there are signs of things slowing as we head into the last few weeks of the year, when firms shut their doors for the summer break.

Partner Moves






Tom Van Hoof

Banking and Finance

Eversheds Sutherland

DLA Piper

Hong Kong

Kajal Aswani

Family Law

Hugill & Ip

Gall Solicitors

Hong Kong

Ruaridh Guy

Dispute Resolution

Squire Patton Boggs

Ince & Co.

Hong Kong

Stephen Howard

Debt Finance

Goodwin Procter

White & Case

Hong Kong

Janice Lee

Asset finance

Hill Dickinson

Ince & Co

Hong Kong

Gary Wong

Asset finance

Hill Dickinson

Ince & Co

Hong Kong

Stan Cheung


DeHeng Law Offices

RPC (Senior Associate)

Hong Kong

Kitty Chan

Equity Capital Markets


Fangda Partners (Counsel)


Paul Ho

Shipping and Maritime

Stephenson Harwood

Ince & Co

Shanghai and Hong Kong

Duan Fu

Private Equity and M&A

Haiwen & Partners

Alibaba Group (Senior Legal Counsel)


Ciarán Londra

Real Estate

DLA Piper

Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner


Han Ming Ho


Reed Smith

Sidley Austin


Craig Luton



Maples and Calder


Noah Carr

Mergers and Acquisitions

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer

Latham & Watkins


Gordon Palmquist

Mergers and Acquisitions

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer

Mayer Brown


Lachlan Clancy


Herbert Smith Freehills

King & Spalding


Stephen DeCosse

Mergers and Acquisitions

Morrison Foerster

Jones Day


Adam Peppinck

Real Estate

ACT Law Society

Clayton Utz


Emily Peverill

Commercial Real Estate

Baker McKenzie

Herbert Smith Freehills


Michelle MacMahon


Hicksons Lawyers

MinterEllison (Special Counsel)


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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