Asia Pacific Legal Market Summary and Partner Moves - April 2017

(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

Hong Kong              Singapore                 China                 Tokyo                  Australia                 

HONG KONG

Law firms have been struggling with how to manage the capital markets business in Hong Kong and China, as fee rates continue to come under extreme pressure. China has also tightened controls on capital outflow to fund M&A by Chinese companies going outbound, so this has impacted law firm hiring. That said, firms are looking to diversify their regional offerings with private equity and dispute resolution, which is proving successful. Demand remains high as always for HK-qualified and J.D. candidates who have strong Mandarin language skills.

 

SINGAPORE

Southern Asia is stirring after the usual post-Christmas, post-Chinese New Year slumber. Corporate is waking up, and firms continue to consider best growth strategies. Energy and associated areas (infrastructure, projects, construction, etc.) continue to be strong in this market. Disputes and tech/fintech are a growing sector. 

 

CHINA

The elite U.S. and British law firms with significant cross-border M&A practices will face challenges in early 2017 with the foreign exchange controls and capital outflow restrictions by the PRC government. We foresee more activity with mid-market U.S. and U.K. law firms in China in the cross-border M&A space that target Chinese clients looking to do smaller M&A deals. We expect international law firms with China inbound practices focused on representing foreign MNCs in general corporate advisory work and other China-related legal services (FDI, JVs, divestitures, restructuring, FCPA/compliance, employment, etc.) to have steady business in 2017. The appetite for hiring in the China cross-border litigation and disputes space is expected to remain steady; this work is less fee sensitive, and foreign law firms that do not have an on-the-ground litigation and disputes practice in China will be looking to this area to balance out the slower corporate M&A activity expected for 2017.

 

TOKYO

The Japan legal market is relatively robust with Japanese companies engaging in quite a bit of cross-border deal activity. Succession concerns are driving some of the interest in lateral hiring. The associate hiring market in Japan remains steady for associates with strong credentials and business-level language skills. 

 

AUSTRALIA

The legal market in Australia has remained steady this month, with much the same hiring focus as last month. Sydney is still the most active market for mid- to senior-level lawyers. It is expected that hiring needs will remain steady over the next couple of months before it starts to slow in the lead up to the EOFY. 

 

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RECENT PARTNER MOVES IN ASIA PACIFIC

Partners

Practice

To

From

Location

Xiao Yong

Corporate

Dechert

Vinson & Elkins

Hong Kong

Johnny Chiu

Intellectual Property

Perkins Coie

Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft

Beijing

Min Duan

Corporate

Han Kun Law Offices

Morgan, Lewis & Bockius

Beijing

Nicholas Song

Corporate

Dechert

Vinson & Elkins

Beijing

Yanlei He

Corporate

Han Kun Law Offices

MSN China

Beijing

Carl Dunton

Finance

PwC Legal

Ashurst

Singapore

Julia Yeo

Labour and Employment

Squire Patton Boggs

Clyde & Co

Singapore

Matthew Leigh

Finance

Hogan Lovells

Norton Rose Fulbright

Singapore

Ki Joong Kang

Intellectual Property

Bae, Kim & Lee

Samsung Electronics IP Center
(Vice President)

South Korea

Yoon Soo Lim

Corporate Investigation

Yulchon

Presidential Secretariat

South Korea

Nigel Deed

M&A

Ashurst 

Norton Rose Fulbright

Sydney

Paul Evans

Competition Litigation and Corporate

Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan

State Solicitor for Western Australia

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 Major, Lindsey & Africa.

* * * * * * *

Andrew NgAndrew Ng is a Managing Consultant in the Hong Kong office of Major, Lindsey & Africa. Andrew focuses on placing law firm partners and associates, whether based in Greater China or overseas, into international law firms operating in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong. 

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