Asia Pacific Legal Market Summary and Partner Moves - May 2015



(As excerpted from our monthly Associate Newsletter - Asia Pacific)

                Hong Kong                 China                 Singapore                 Seoul                 Australia

HONG KONG

This month, we can report that lateral associate moves remain robust in Hong Kong. Firms are hiring and they are committed to expanding their teams, particularly in the corporate, litigation and finance practices. In addition to opportunities at firms, we also see a noticeable increase in the number of in-house counsel openings suitable for law firm associates (junior to mid-level).

The notable moves we have seen in the past month include Howes Williams Bowers hiring a number of shipping and insurance lawyers from Eversheds, including partner William Leung. The law firm of Kwok Yih & Chan hired Cecil Kwong from Dentons as a partner into is corporate, capital markets and M&A practice. Mayer Brown hired Thomas Kollar from Clifford Chance to join its U.S. capital markets team. Finally, the U.K. law firm Lewis Silkin entered the Hong Kong market to focus on the firm's employment and global mobility strengths in Asia.


CHINA

In China, some firms are thriving while it is simply “so so” for others. The disconnect is most pronounced in corporate transactional practices. According to one U.S. law firm partner’s observation of the China market, firms get busy for a while then go through dry periods; transactional work can be a bit choppy. This reality is not a reflection per se on how well a firm is doing in China, just the reality of doing business and practicing law in China. Clients may start and then put on hold/stop a project altogether, which is outside of the law firm's control.

Given current market conditions, our advice to associates contemplating a move to another firm is to stay with their current firm unless a bona fide and compelling opportunity presents itself. Moving to another firm at the first sign of distress at your current firm typically is not advisable; you must be strategic. Most law firms that are serious about hiring a lateral associate will pepper associates with lots of probing questions if they have not been at their current firm for at least two years. Deal flow will come and go, but if an associate changes jobs too frequently in the market, it can raise a red flag for future employers and many firms are flat-out not willing to consider job-hopping associates.


SINGAPORE

There has been talk of a slowdown in the South East Asia IPO market with a shift in focus to China. Other sectors such as energy and projects remain strong, and we are seeing increasing demand for associates from overseas jurisdictions with strong expertise in these practice areas. Energy associates with Bahasa language skills are especially in demand at present—this may be an opportune time to relocate to build your regional projects and energy expertise!

In other Singapore news, Dentons shut its Singapore office to focus on North Asia. Nabbaro has hired Steven Lim, formerly the Managing Director of Clyde & Co’s Singapore joint venture Clasis, as the head of its office. And to round things out, Stephenson Harwood promoted Huay Yee Kwan to partner, while White & Case’s Singapore QFLP license has been extended for four more years.


SEOUL

For lack of better words, things in Seoul are busy, busy, busy. Foreign lawyer hiring at the associate level is at a peak. Most opportunities are in the corporate and project finance Korea practices based in Seoul, Hong Kong and Tokyo.

Recent news in the Korea market includes White & Case and Allen & Overy announcing that they will open in Seoul by end of 2015. U.S. IP firm Finnegan also announced that it will be opening a new office in Korea this summer. Finally, BKL opened in Dubai; it is the first Korean firm to have a presence in the region.


AUSTRALIA

LONDON CALLING! One of our Sydney consultants recently returned from a trip to London where he met with the Magic Circle, Silver Circle and a handful of U.S. firms who are all looking to hire lawyers from Australia and New Zealand. The sweet spot for most firms is for associates with 3–7 years of experience. There are some U.K. newly qualified roles in banking & finance, restructuring and IP litigation where lawyers with two years of experience in Australia will be considered. Most of the roles available in the market are for corporate M&A, private equity, TMT, infrastructure, projects & construction, restructuring and all areas of banking & finance including project and asset finance. The firms looking to hire will offer generous relocation packages and sponsorship to work in the U.K.

* * * * * * *

RECENT PARTNER MOVES IN ASIA

Partners

Practice

To

From

Location

Alfred Wu

Dispute Resolution

Norton Rose Fulbright

Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson

Hong Kong

Douglas Freeman 

Corporate

Paul Hastings

Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson

Hong Kong

Victor Chen

Corporate

Paul Hastings

Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson

Hong Kong

Thomas Kollar

Corporate and Securities

Mayer Brown JSM

Clifford Chance

Hong Kong

William Leung

Shipping and Insurance

Howse Williams Bowers

Eversheds

Hong Kong

Muna Dandan

Financial Services Disputes and Investigations

Eversheds

Barclays, Dubai

Hong Kong

Cecil Kwong

Corporate Finance and Capital Markets

Kwok Yih & Chan

Dentons (Counsel)

Hong Kong

Wendy Pan

M&A

Sidley Austin

O’Melveny & Myers, New York

Shanghai

Jason Cheng

M&A

Dacheng Law Offices

HHP Attorneys-at-Law

Shanghai

Caroline Hou

M&A

Dacheng Law Offices

HHP Attorneys-at-Law

Shanghai

Daniel Ye Wei

M&A

Dacheng Law Offices

HHP Attorneys-at-Law

Shanghai

Benjamin Bin Zhao

M&A

Dacheng Law Offices

HHP Attorneys-at-Law

Shanghai

Min-tze Lean

Corporate

Baker & McKenzie.Wong & Leow

Morgan Lewis Stamford

Singapore

Ken Cheung

M&A

Bird & Bird

Berwin Leighton Paisner

Singapore

Simon Cowled

Power Projects

King & Spalding

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom (Counsel)

Singapore

Steven Lim

International Dispute Resolution and Arbitration

Nabarro

Clyde & Co

Singapore

Daniel Chan

IP and Technology

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing

Yusam Audrey

Singapore

Kevin Stewart

Dispute Resolution

Minter Ellison

Lavan Legal

Perth


These listed partner moves are obtained from both public sources and Major, Lindsey & Africa. This list is not intended to represent Major, Lindsey & Africa as the consultancy involved in the moves, although some moves may have been brokered by MLA.


Request Information

* * * * * * *

Anjali PatelAnjali Patel is a consultant in the Hong Kong office of Major, Lindsey & Africa. As a member of the Associate Practice Group, Anjali specialises in placing associates into US, UK, and local Hong Kong law firms. She works closely with MLA's law firm clients providing them with market intelligence, interpretation of market trends and advice on recruitment strategies.

FIND A CONSULTANT

Connect with one of our experienced recruiters to explore new horizons.

GET STARTED

CONTACT US TODAY

Want to know more about how we can help address your legal talent needs or help you fulfill your career goals? Fill out the form below to get started.

If you need immediate assistance, please call 1.877.482.1010 to be connected to the Major, Lindsey & Africa location nearest you.