Asia Pacific Legal Market Summary And Partner Moves - September 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


Despite the development in the Hong Kong market, law firms still have an appetite to recruit though there has been a slight switch on where they are recruiting. In the previous months, most of the hiring happened within the corporate IPO, M&A, banking and funds team. Funds practices remain busy and recruiting for talent, but the other usual busy areas have gone quiet on recruitment.

Most of the openings we are working on fall under restructuring and insolvency, employment and funds. These openings are only available to mid-level to senior-level candidates with at least three years of post-qualification experience. Interestingly, some of these openings do not require Chinese language skills. We have opportunities within US capital markets, funds and banking teams where Chinese skills are preferred but not essential. We shall wait and see how recruiting will play out in the next few months.


The market in China remains steady. There is some replacement hiring across law firms, but most of the international law firms are cautious of their upcoming hire. Among international firms, banking, FCPA and funds are the active practices. Most of these hires are mid-level candidates with at least three years of experience within the space. Partners are still willing to relocate candidates from other locations to China, but there is a high preference for candidates with Chinese citizenship.


The Singapore market continues to garner interest as an exciting and technically challenging legal hub. Arbitration and projects work remains steady; however, some well-established teams are feeling the pressure as more firms enter an already competitive market. For growth roles (as opposed to replacement roles), the hiring process is slightly longer of late, which may be for several reasons: Hiring partners are waiting for confirmation of winning work for which they pitched before hiring new associates as well as the continual requests by existing MNC clients to reduce outside counsel costs. Associates with experience in white collar crime are highly sought after at many US and UK firms in the city state.


The legal recruitment market has been slow in Seoul. Global events have had an influence on the situation. We have seen more lawyers consider moving out of the market and inquiry on other jurisdictions.


Despite the downward trend in the APAC region, Japanese M&A activity continues to push further into record territory. Fueled by the Japanese government’s efforts to modernize the corporate governance landscape and Japanese companies’ appetite to acquire target companies with attractive innovation capabilities, outbound traffic is at an all-time high. Driven by the current trend, there has been a continuous demand for M&A lawyers. Experienced Japanese-qualified lawyers with top credentials and bilingual US-qualified lawyers with 2–3 years PQE+ are highly sought after in the market.


Global and national law firms continue to show strong demand for top lawyers, especially for commercial litigators to handle financial and banking sector regulatory disputes as well as class action defense matters. Demand also remains high for lawyers with 2-9 years PQE across banking and finance, infrastructure and construction, real estate, corporate/M&A, and technology/TMT.

Firms continue to look to sponsor UK, New Zealand and South African-qualified lawyers with top-tier experience who wish to relocate to Australia.

Partner Moves

Partners Practice To From Location
Richard Blair Corporate Finance Blackstone (APAC General Counsel) Freshfields Hong Kong
Alvin So Corporate Nixon Peabody CWL So Lawyers Hong Kong
James Webb Corporate Carey Olsen  Walkers Hong Kong
Fei Kwok Finance and Energy Clyde & Co  Norton Rose Fulbright Hong Kong
Tejaswi Nimmagadda Aviation Asset Finance Tiang & Partners King & Wood Mallesons Hong Kong
Jonathan Silver Shipping Maples Group  Norton Rose Fulbright Hong Kong
Benjamin Choi Trademarks Deacons Mayer Brown Hong Kong
Jean Yu Capital Markets Tian Yuan Clifford Chance Hong Kong
Lindsay Gao Capital Markets Tian Yuan Sidley Austin (Senior Associate) Hong Kong
Charles Wang Capital Markets Tian Yuan Herbert Smith Freehills (Counsel) Hong Kong
Christopher Metcalf Shipping HFW Clyde & Co Singapore
Jon Ornolfsson Global Project Finance Morrison & Foerster Ashurst Singapore
Daniel Yong Private Funds Withers KhattarWong Morgan Lewis Stamford Singapore
Alexander McMyn Banking White & Case Hogan Lovells Singapore
James Choo Tax EY  Baker McKenzie Wong & Leow Singapore
Jimmy Yap Corporate and Commercial CNPLaw  Angeline Suparto Law Corporation (Senior Legal Consultant) Singapore
Chan Wan Hong Corporate Finance Atlas Asia Law Corporation Dentons Rodyk & Davidson Singapore
Desiree Lee Venture Capital Atlas Asia Law Corporation Dentons Rodyk & Davidson (Senior Associate) Singapore
Edward Dhong Corporate Investigations Yoon & Yang IBM (Head of Investigations for Asia Pacific, Greater China, and Japan) Seoul
Arjun Rajgopal Corporate L&L Partners  Krishnamurthy & Co Delhi
Nikunj Maheshwari Banking and Finance AZB & Partners  Amarchand Mangaldas Mumbai
Revathy Muralidharan M&A IndusLaw  J. Sagar Associates Mumbai


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