Asia Pacific Legal Market Summary And Partner Moves - May 2022
(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 leader Carrie Lam has announced the easing of social distancing measures, and students are returning to schools as the number of COVID-19 cases fall. The city is will soon return to a semblance of normalcy and hopes to get back into its pre-pandemic routine.
Despite most lawyers still working remotely, the legal recruitment market has remained active. Active positions are mainly available to lawyers with 1–6 years of post-qualification experience. Chinese language skills are preferred for some roles, but it is no longer a mandatory requirement for many positions. Law firms are weighing relevant experience higher than language skills. Busy areas include M&A, capital markets, funds, finance and tax.
Law firms remain open to relocating candidates to Hong Kong and are happy to sponsor their visas. For lawyers interested in having a conversation about the Hong Kong market, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Shanghai is experiencing, at the time of this writing, a strong lockdown and compulsory testing due to a rise in infections from the Omicron variant. The lockdown has extended into other Chinese cities including Beijing. Recruitment has materially slowed down in Shanghai due to the lockdown, but Beijing remains steady and we have senior positions available in the corporate space at UK firms where interview processes are still ongoing.
We foresee the market will remain steady for the next couple of months, although we will continue to monitor COVID-19 developments.
Singapore further eased restrictions since our last newsletter, and there has been a definite uptick in activity since then. Bars and restaurants are busier (showing sports on screens in the pub has returned!), and partners and associates are beginning to return to the office, so Raffles Place and MBFC are definitely busy again.
Restrictions have certainly taken their toll on associates, and it is clear that there are opportunities at most associate levels. While the tighter immigration rules in the professional services space will have an effect on law firm hiring, the best overseas candidates will always find excellent opportunities here.
Associates with experience within the projects/project finance and M&A/private equity space are always in demand, and we would be happy to discuss what Singapore has to offer to legal professionals who are keen to work here.
SINGAPORE - Interim Legal
With the well-being of legal professionals becoming an important topic recently, we’ve noticed that career flexibility has become more important than ever. A renewed focus on both mental and physical health appears to have substantively increased interest among lawyers in Singapore to embark on a career as a legal consultant in order to achieve the once-elusive work/life balance.
Please reach out to us if you would like to explore legal consultancy as a career option and to learn more about opportunities in the market.
Although COVID-19 cases remain high in Seoul, the government is ready to reduce restrictions and law firms are operating mostly business as usual. The majority of the opportunities for foreign-qualified corporate associates right now are with the leading Korean firms, but this could turn around again soon given the surge in M&A activity. Highly credentialed bilingual foreign-qualified associates looking to find roles at leading international firms can still find exciting opportunities.
With the easing of visa and quarantine restrictions, non-Japanese lawyers without pre-pandemic visas have finally started to enter the country for the first time in two years. There is robust demand for highly credentialed US, UK and Australian lawyers with a background in M&A, finance or capital markets – particularly with strong Japanese language skills. Our international and Japanese law firm clients continue to seek strong bengoshi candidates with corporate or finance experience. International firms are starting to implement their return-to-office policies, and hybrid work has become the norm, although expectations and flexibility vary significantly across individual offices.
Top-tier global and mid-market law firms, particularly across Sydney and Melbourne, continue to report multiple opportunities for senior associate and associate roles across a range of practice areas. Specifically, we are seeing needs for lawyers with 3–8 years of post-qualification experience in corporate/M&A, banking and finance, financial services and regulatory, infrastructure and construction, litigation and real estate.
Firms are showing a keen interest in Australian-qualified returnees as well as Commonwealth-qualified corporate and finance lawyers (especially those who are UK and New Zealand-qualified) who may have an interest in relocating to Sydney.