Asia Pacific Legal Market Summary and Partner Moves - July 2018

APAC Market Summary(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        China        Singapore        South Korea        Australia       


The Hong Kong market remains active with recruitment of associates. Corporate finance and dispute resolution have been the busiest areas. Hong Kong-qualified candidates are desired for those positions.

Banking and finance lawyers are also in high demand, and partners are keen to see candidates in these industries who have gained a couple of years’ experience in the London or Australia markets and are looking to return to Asia. Mandarin language skills are still highly desired, but there is flexibility for more senior candidates. We expect the recruitment market will remain busy for the remainder of the year.



The transactional practices in China are riding a deal wave at the moment, particularly in the Hong Kong IPO space. Firms are capitalizing on this market and quickly expanding their teams at all levels. We continue to see versatility in the way firms approach hiring talent in China, but it still remains a very competitive space, particularly with US firms.

US trade and FCPA/investigations practices are under some strain given the China-US trade situation at the moment. While there has not been a significant decrease in work within these practices, firms are cautious about hiring in this space given the developing situation.



Singapore remains a replacement market. There is a lot of focus on sharing internal talent and relocating people from other markets, so opportunities are few and far between. We have seen a high level of interest in Singaporean candidates in China and Hong Kong markets. For those interested in joining a busier practice, it may be a good idea to look for international opportunities. The busiest practice areas are in finance and capital markets.



Seoul remains a relatively quiet market. There are a handful of transactional opportunities in the market; however, firms are not rapidly expanding there.



As we head into a new 2018–2019 Australian financial year, we can say with confidence that the Australian legal market is experiencing a surge in activity unlike anything in recent history. The strong conditions spurred on by work flowing into firms from the banking royal commission, booming M&A activity, class action defence cases, regulatory change, major infrastructure projects and general economic growth has provided many law firms double-digit profit growth over the past year. This has subsequently led to an increase in partner and non-partner recruitment activity across national and international law firms for transactional, disputes and regulatory lawyers.

International and national law firms in Sydney have continued to show interest in lawyers of all levels (from 1–8 PQE) with excellent training and credentials across litigation, corporate/M&A (including private equity and equity capital markets) and banking and finance practices. Demand for real estate and construction lawyers also remains steady with most large firms having interest in lawyers with minimum of 3 years PQE.

The Melbourne private practice legal market remains active with international and national law firms maintaining their demand for top talent across banking and finance, corporate/M&A and regulatory lawyers as well as mid-level real estate lawyers.

In the Perth legal market, we are seeing stronger demand for energy and resource and corporate/M&A lawyers. We have seen an uptick in demand for project finance as well as contentious and non-contentious energy sector matters.


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Recent Partner Moves in Asia Pacific






Wanda Woo


Kirkland & Ellis

Shearman & Sterling

Hong Kong

Allan Wardrop


Sidley Austin

Hogan Lovells

Hong Kong

Eric Lui

Corporate and Commercial

ONC Lawyers

Stevenson Wong & Co.

Hong Kong

John Maguire

Corporate Finance and M&A

Nixon Peabody CWL

Yunfeng Financial Group (Head of Corporate Finance)

Hong Kong

Benjamin McQuhae


GPS Legal

Jones Day

Hong Kong

Yang Ge

Capital Markets

DLA Piper

Shearman & Sterling (Counsel)


Yan Xuan

Public Policy

Squire Patton Boggs

Nielsen (Greater China President)


Geraldine Ong

Real Estate

Baker McKenzie Wong & Leow

Drew & Napier


Koh Tien Gui


Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner

Rajah & Tann


Rachel Eng





Joel Rothstein

Real Estate

Greenberg Traurig

Sidley Partner

Tokyo, Shanghai and Seoul

Andrew Steele

Real Estate

Clayton Utz

Norton Rose Fulbright


Nivedita Tiwari


Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas

Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas

New Delhi

Rachika Sahay


HSA Advocates

Ostro Energy (General Counsel)

New Delhi

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.

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Maggie KwokMaggie Kwok is a Consultant in the Hong Kong office of Major, Lindsey & Africa. As a member of the Associate Practice Group, Maggie specializes in placing mid- to senior-level lawyers across Hong Kong and Greater China.


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