February 1, 2023

Volume XIII, Number 32

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Asia Pacific Legal Market Summary January 2023

HONG KONG

Happy Lunar New Year! We wish everyone good health and happiness in the Year of the Rabbit!

As we step into 2023, law firms are feeling more positive about the year ahead. Most of the UK firms are holding their budget meetings this month, and we should learn about the latest updates after the Chinese New Year. US law firms completed their budget meetings in the second half of last year, and due to this scheduling, the planned budget is likely more or less similar to that of last year’s.

Due to the proximity of Christmas and Chinese New Year, recruitment activity has been quieter than usual. However, we have received a couple of mandates for new openings across the following practice areas: capital markets, funds, finance, litigation and arbitration. These positions involve a mix of replacement and expansion hires. Firms are keen for mainly mid-level to senior-level lawyers with at least three years of post-qualification experience.

Mainland CHINA

Happy Lunar New Year! Gong Xi Fa Cai!

With the border reopened and the Chinese New Year holiday, most people are travelling again. January has been quieter for the Beijing and Shanghai markets, but we anticipate this will change after the Chinese New Year. We note that a high level of outbound recruitment activities took place across the partner and associate levels last year. We consistently received lawyers' enquiries on the Hong Kong market, particularly from foreign-qualified lawyers. Lawyers within the M&A, finance, FCPA and funds space have the opportunity to transfer their skill sets to other locations.

SINGAPORE

With the Lunar New Year coming very early, the international legal world in Singapore does seem to be in a bit of limbo and will crank back into action shortly after the Lunar celebrations have passed.

The outlook for our law firm clients remains positive, although caution is certainly creeping into some of the hiring and decision making in some sectors. This is particularly acute at more senior levels (counsel and partner) where the investment cost is greater. We continue to see a demand for excellent associates in investment funds, restructuring, major projects and disputes. Our clients are always open to reviewing experienced candidates from global markets in most practice areas.

Happy New Year and Gong Xi Fa Cai to you all! Very best wishes for a successful and prosperous 2023!

SINGAPORE - (Interim)

With the start of the new year and the finalization of budgets at the end of 2022, we are seeing more general counsel exploring the interim model, as they are more likely to obtain approval to hire contractors under their outside counsel budget. Taking the interim route can help fill gaps that already exist or that may potentially arise from departing talent. The increase in outside counsel fees is already a priority, so if work can be brought in-house or interim talent employed, this may have cost-saving benefits. Interim talent will also help keep members of the legal team challenged and engaged (Major, Lindsey & Africa's Global In-House Market Conditions, January 2023).

SOUTH KOREA

With the start of the new year, there are hopes that 2023 will see an increase in cross-border deal activity. Levels of activity seemed uneven in 2022, with only some of the deal teams at international firms keeping fully busy. As mentioned in our past newsletter, we are looking forward to reconnecting with many of you in person when our consultants travel to Seoul later this month. Please feel free to reach out to us if you wish to meet up. Our February update will be chock full of updates on the Seoul legal market!

JAPAN

Following a busy holiday season that felt almost like pre-Covid days, lawyers in Tokyo are getting back to work and hopeful that the loosening of border restrictions and a somewhat stronger, steadier yen will increase cross-border deal activity. With bonus season behind us, new associate roles may be on the horizon at international firms. Many, however, are still taking a wait and see approach to their recruiting needs. Firms are, as always, opportunistically interested in corporate bengoshi associates and international corporate associates with Japanese fluency.

AUSTRALIA

The Australian legal market has started off the new year quietly but with a sense of optimism. Although January is a relatively quiet month for recruitment, we are seeing continued demand for experienced lawyers in litigation, private equity/M&A, investment funds, banking, finance, financial services/regulatory and infrastructure practice areas.

We expect to see continued demand for top-tier trained and commonwealth-qualified candidates with 2–10 years of post-qualification experience, particularly in transactions, from abroad looking to relocate to Australia.

©2023 Major, Lindsey & Africa, an Allegis Group Company. All rights reserved.National Law Review, Volume XIII, Number 23
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About this Author

Ashish Raivadera Managing Director Major Lindsey & Africa
Managing Director

Ash Raivadera is Managing Director, South Asia in the Partner Practice Group, establishing our Singapore office in 2016. He works closely with his colleagues throughout the region and world to present and identify more opportunities with major international laws firms. With a focus on senior-level search, Ash works closely with his Associate Practice Group colleagues in Hong Kong to help firms in Singapore fill their more junior needs as well.

Ash is an English-qualified...

+65 9029-5141
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