September 29, 2022

Volume XII, Number 272

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Asia Pacific Legal Market Summary And Partner Moves - July 2022

Legal Market Summary

HONG KONG

Law firm management teams are closely monitoring the billable hours of individuals and are encouraging partners to ensure high utilization rates within their respective teams. This has led to increasing challenges in obtaining headcount approval for new hires. This is the time of the year when trainees usually find out their retention offers. Unfortunately, not every firm is able to retain all their trainees this year. We are seeing a high volume of available trainees in the market, with only a handful of firms considering newly qualified associates. Firms have an appetite to hire into the restructuring sector and the funds space. Lawyers with at least 2–3 years of post-qualification experience are preferred.

Mainland CHINA

The recruitment market remains slow in Beijing and Shanghai. With both cities opening, firms are resuming hires that were previously put on hold. Such hires mainly fall under the intellectual property and litigation areas. International law firms are cautiously reviewing the utilization rates of individuals, with partners seeking alternative solutions to balance out departures rather than making new hires. Most firms are sharing that recruitment may pick up again towards the last quarter of the year.

SINGAPORE

Global interest in Singapore remains robust as several of our clients look to grow, but growth is steady rather than spectacular, with demand in M&A/private equity, finance and projects. Tourists and business travellers are back as Singapore gears up for a busy second half of the calendar year.

SINGAPORE - (Interim)

The finance space remains active with traditional financial services companies aiming to become similar to progressive tech companies whilst offering financial services. These clients are seeking lawyers to join them on an interim basis as they move into the tech space and break the mould of traditional financing.

SOUTH KOREA

Although COVID-19 cases in South Korea are rising again, the government has not yet reintroduced restrictions and life in Seoul remains back to pre-pandemic normalcy. Not surprisingly, law firm operations in Seoul are experiencing some signs of economic weakness in line with the global economy. Many of the opportunities for foreign-qualified corporate associates right now are with the leading Korean firms. Nevertheless, highly credentialed bilingual foreign-qualified associates looking to find roles at leading international firms can still find exciting opportunities. There are also roles in other markets, such as Tokyo and Singapore, for Korean-speaking lawyers.

JAPAN

Business visitors have been trickling into Japan in increasing numbers, but the combination of significantly increasing COVID-19 cases, the assassination of former Prime Minister Abe and recent elections are unlikely to portend a further reopening of the country anytime soon. Law firms continue to be less affected by the global economic slowdown than their Western counterparts, in part because the Japanese Yen/United States Dollar exchange rate continues to make Japan an attractive target for inbound investment. While most firms are actively seeking bengoshi associates in several areas, there are fewer positions open to foreign lawyers—although there is always interest in well credentialed candidates with strong Japanese language skills.

AUSTRALIA

With the start of the new Australian fiscal year, firms are showing an interest in M&A and private equity lawyers with more than three years of post-qualification experience. Along with project finance lawyers, particularly in the renewable energy space. Financial services and regulatory lawyers with over three years of post-qualification experience are also in significant demand in both the Sydney and Melbourne markets.

Partner Moves

Partners

Practice

To

From

Location

Daniel Dusek

Private Equity

Goodwin Procter

Kirkland & Ellis

Hong Kong

Kelvan Cheung

Corporate Finance

Jingtian & Gongcheng

Deacons

Hong Kong

Alan Yip

Real Estate

Howse Williams

Mayer Brown

Hong Kong

Daniel Lindsey

Private Equity

Sidley Austin

Goodwin Procter, Hong Kong

Singapore

Ethan Tan

Aviation

Mischon de Reya

Allen & Overy (Of Counsel)

Singapore

Julien Bocobza

Energy and Project Development

White & Case

Norton Rose Fulbright, London

Tokyo

Simon Irvine

Project Finance

Johnson Winter & Slattery

Ashurst

Sydney

Michael Stretton

Construction

Dentons

Holding Redlich (Special Counsel)

Brisbane

Toby Eggleston

Tax

Herbert Smith Freehills

Greenwoods

Melbourne

Ryan Leslie

Tax

Herbert Smith Freehills

Greenwoods

Melbourne

Nick Heggart

Tax

Herbert Smith Freehills

Greenwoods

Perth

©2022 Major, Lindsey & Africa, an Allegis Group Company. All rights reserved.National Law Review, Volume XII, Number 210
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About this Author

Laurie Lebrun Partner Major Lindsey & Africa
Partner

Laurie Lebrun, a Partner of Major, Lindsey & Africa, established her company’s Tokyo office in 2007. Based in Tokyo since 2005, Laurie is actively engaged in private practice and in-house placements in both Japan and Korea.

Legal Background

A New York qualified lawyer, Laurie practiced for more than five years in the New York and Tokyo offices of Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton as a securities and mergers and acquisitions lawyer. During this time, Laurie was involved in transactions in Japan...

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