Asia Pacific Legal Market Summary And Partner Moves - October 2019


(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


The Hong Kong market remains steady. We have openings among teams within private equity, FCPA, finance and employment spaces. Candidates with at least two years of post-qualification experience and strong Chinese skills are desired for most of these roles. For some of the firms, partners do not prefer candidates who exceed six years of post-qualification experience due to the candidate’s expectation on prospect.


We have seen a trend of senior partners moving from international law firms to PRC domestic law firms in the past few months. PRC domestic law firms seem to have taken a bigger role on transactions. Not only acting as the PRC legal counsels but also advising on the international piece. These seem to be the result of the movements and will only continue.

On the recruitment front, we have multiple openings in the banking and corporate M&A space. Law firms are generally keen to speak with PRC nationals who have gained experience overseas and are currently looking to return. Chinese language skills are essential.


The Singapore market has been active. We have multiple openings within the M&A space. US firms are looking for junior to mid-level candidate to join their teams. Candidates with international law firm backgrounds and overseas experience are in demand.


Seoul still remains a steady market at present. Corporate is the preferred area to hire into, with a couple of firms speculatively open to hiring talent. Most firms seem to be focused on mentoring and developing their current teams before taking on lateral associate hires, which they anticipate doing mid-way through next year.


While the APAC region is slowing down M&A activities, in part due to increasing geopolitical concerns, Japanese outbound investment remains a priority. There has been a continuous demand for M&A lawyers. Experienced Japanese-qualified lawyers with strong academic backgrounds and solid training from top firms and bilingual foreign-qualified lawyers with 2–3 years’ PQE+ experience are highly sought after in the market.


As we move through Spring, recruitment activities across the Australian legal market start to heat up in the final push before December and the Christmas break arrive.

Through September and October, as was the case in previous months, we saw global and national law firms continue to show strong demand for commercial litigators to handle financial and banking sector regulatory disputes as well as class action defense matters. Demand also remained high for lawyers with 2–9 years’ PQE across banking & finance, infrastructure & construction (both front end and contentious), real estate, corporate/M&A and technology/TMT.

Firms continue to sponsor UK, New Zealand and South African–qualified lawyers with top-tier experience who wish to relocate to Australia. Demand exists more so for transactional lawyers, especially across finance and corporate. Australian–qualified lawyers who are looking to return home from abroad will also find a healthy array of options to choose from.

Partner Moves

Partners Practice To From Location
Jean Yu Capital Markets Tian Yuan Law Clifford Chance Hong Kong
Lindsay Gao Capital Markets Tian Yuan Law Sidley Austin (Senior Associate) Hong Kong
Charles Wang Capital Markets Tian Yuan Law Herbert Smith Freehills (Counsel) Hong Kong
Matthew O’Callaghan Financial Services Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer Goldman Sachs (Managing Director and Senior Counsel) Hong Kong
Du Yilong Corporate Warburg Pincus (Co-general Counsel for China and Southeast Asia) Latham & Watkins Hong Kong
Peter Glover Maritime Disputes Reed Smith Norton Rose Fulbright Hong Kong
Meng Ding Corporate and Finance Sidley Austin   Kirkland & Ellis Hong Kong
Michael Chik International Dispute Resolution Bird & Bird  Norton Rose Fulbright (Counsel) Hong Kong
Kurt Lau Capital Markets Hill Dickinson Eversheds Sutherland (Consultant) Hong Kong
Jonathan Gray Dispute Resolution Hugill & Ip FitzGerald Lawyers (Consultant) Hong Kong
Mark Hughes Litigation Eversheds Sutherland  Slaughter and May Hong Kong
Daniel Abercromby  Banking and Finance Weil Gotshal Kirkland & Ellis Hong Kong
John Shum  Banking King & Wood Mallesons White & Case Singapore
Colin Ong Corporate and Capital Markets Eng and Co. (Director) WongPartnership Singapore
Peter Chow Arbitration King & Spalding  Squire Patton Boggs Singapore
Masayuki Okamoto Finance Monex Group (Executive Director and General Counsel) Clifford Chance Tokyo
Tanya Denning Energy Baker McKenzie Ashurst Melbourne
Shane Bilardi Corporate DLA Piper Norton Rose Fulbright Melbourne
James Stewart Corporate DLA Piper Norton Rose Fulbright Sydney
James Clyne Corporate K&L Gates Allens Perth


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