Asia Pacific Legal Market Summary September 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


Another round of layoffs has been noted this month among UK and US firms across the capital markets, corporate and banking practices and across all levels of seniority. Recruitment activities have remained slow, and we have a handful of openings within the litigation, FCPA and finance practices. The firms that are hiring would be open to considering candidates from overseas, but Mandarin language skills are required, and the firms are highly concerned about the lawyers’ training background, relevant experience and academic record. Lawyers with experience from top-tier firms are at an advantage.

Mainland CHINA

It has been a slow and cautious market in Beijing and Shanghai. There are a handful of FCPA investigation openings at mid to senior levels. TMT and data privacy spaces are also gaining awareness in the market and firms are potentially interested in candidates with strong Chinese experience. Firms are open to relocating Chinese nationals who have gained a few years of experience overseas to return to Beijing or Shanghai.


The past month has seen significant levels of activity and a lot of buzz in our tiny island! We’ve had Conference week and Gastech, which has seen the City full to the brim with legal professionals, and the F1 has rolled into town. The activity here reflects the growing importance of Singapore as an Asian business centre across a variety of industry sectors. This translates to activity (and, therefore, the search for talent) in the energy and infrastructure sector, which remains buoyant. While there has been a slowdown in the funds and private equity sector, good candidates with strong skills in this sector continue to be in demand for our key clients. Please contact us to find out more about Singapore and the opportunities that might be available.

SINGAPORE - (Interim)

As we enter the final quarter of 2023, we are being approached by many candidates who are keen to make a career switch next year and they are keen to explore the interim/consulting route. Interim contracting is a great way to do something more flexible or a fantastic way to gain in-house experience for those who are transitioning from private practice. So please reach out to Cynthia Barnardiston or Prasanna Karunamoorthy for a confidential discussion if you are interested in finding out more.


In the past month, most of the headline news involving foreign-qualified lawyers in Seoul has come out of the Korean law firms. This should not be surprising as they remain strong and continue to grow their global capabilities despite the 10+ years of legal market liberalization in Korea that some had initially feared would have a detrimental impact on the leading Korean firms. The increasing calibre of foreign-qualified lateral hires by these firms is worth noting, especially at times when hiring by the foreign firms in Seoul is sluggish. There are also some exciting in-house roles available to top notch associates.


The continued slowdown in outbound M&A transactions has meant that the international firm market continues to be very slow in Tokyo, with most firms following the lead of their home offices in freezing headcount, apart from a few niche replacement roles. Firms are hopeful that the market will begin to improve early next year. So coupled with the preference of many associates to receive their year-end bonuses before jumping ship, currently it makes sense for international lawyers to wait until next year, if possible, before exploring an opportunistic move to Japan. That said, a number of large Japanese firms remain open to hiring US, UK and Australian-qualified corporate associates. On the bengoshi side, the increase in inbound investment in Japan has led many firms, both domestic and international, to continue looking to increase their bengoshi associate ranks.


Over the last month, we have seen continued demand for mid-level and senior associates in M&A across Sydney and Melbourne, predominantly at mid-tier firms. Opportunities at top-tier firms for major projects and infrastructure lawyers, with 2–7 years of post-qualification experience with development, corporate or finance side experience, are on the rise. Restructuring lawyers and construction litigators will also find stronger demand in the current market than in years past. Firms are currently taking a cautious approach in considering foreign-qualified lawyers as we continue to navigate subdued market conditions.

Partner Moves






Stan Cheung

Commercial Disputes

DeHeng Law Offices

RPC (Senior Associate)

Hong Kong

Ren Yong

Private Capital and Funds

Stephenson Harwood

Proskauer Rose

Hong Kong

Douglas Clark

IP and Dispute Resolution

Tanner De Witt


Hong Kong

Paul Haswell

Technology and Data

K&L Gates

Seyfarth Shaw

Hong Kong

Sophie Lyall

Restructuring and Insolvency

White & Case


Hong Kong

Ivan Chang


Reynolds Porter Chamberlain

Addleshaw Goddard

Hong Kong

Hallam Chow


Haiwen & Partners

Mayer Brown


Boya Shen


Haiwen & Partners

Mayer Brown

Beijing and Hong Kong

Guy Hardaker


Watson Farley & Williams (Consultant)

Holman Fenwick Willan, Hong Kong


Peiwen Chen

Private Equity

Herbert Smith Freehills

White & Case


Paul Greening


Jones Day

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld


Nick How

Banking and Finance

Penningtons Manches Cooper

Rajah & Tann


Andrew Raymond


Watson Farley & Williams, Singapore

Herbert Smith Freehills, Seoul (Senior Associate)


Jay Tai

Private Capital and Funds

Stephenson Harwood

Proskauer Rose


Joseph Lee

Construction and Arbitration

Yoon & Yang

Pinsent Masons


James Lawrence

Intellectual Property


Mills Oakley



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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