We are pleased to share this compensation report to provide guidance to our partner and associate candidates. We have gathered information with the help of our law firms clients and candidates and from our in-depth knowledge of the market. Please note that this report isn't all inclusive as we represent mostly Am Law 100 international firms and top local firms in Tokyo, Hong Kong, Mainland China and Singapore.
Premier law firms are offering increasingly competitive packages in order to attract and retain top legal talent throughout the Asia market. Hiring conditions across Asia are showing steady and noticable signs of improvement with new openings in litigation, dispute resolution, project finance, fund formation, capital markets and M&A.
Interestingly, the Hong Kong market for the last twelve months has been experiencing the continued tussle for HK qualified and US, UK and AUS qualified associates and a few American firms continue to pay their Hong Kong and UK and AUS qualified associates at New York-scale salaries starting at $160,000 for first years. However, it is important to note that not all of their competitors in Hong Kong have followed suit and some are waiting to see how these salary changes develop.
The Hong Kong and Beijing offices of US NLJ 350 firms also saw large increases in their lawyer headcounts this year. Beijing firms experienced an 15% gain and Hong Kong firms experienced a 12% gain.
William Wesley March 7th, 2016
As the global economy continues to feel the effects of the 2008 recession, it faces both short and long-term challenges. But new and exciting opportunities are being created as the world’s markets walk the road to recovery. Southeast Asia has become an area of growth, attracting many firms and attorneys wishing to expand their portfolios abroad. The legal market in Asia is continuing to grow at record speed, changing the landscape for expatriate lawyers with an increase and broadening of opportunities for associates, partners and firms, a rapid and substantial deal flow.
According to the American Lawyer, Am Law 100 law firms had mild gains in 2012. They reported that gross revenue for Am Law 100 law firms was up 3.4 percent, average revenue per lawyer was up 2.6 percent, and average profits per partner were up 4.2 percent. Notably, this growth was uneven and the more successful firms tended to have a strong international presence, and well as a diverse set of practice areas.
Asia is a strong area of international growth and this extends to the legal sector. The Asian legal market is on pace to double in size by 2017, according to Asia Law Portal. Their analysts project the Asian legal market to grow 6 to 7 percent over the next 8 years, creating a strong incentive for U.S. and U.K. to get on the ground floor for fear of being left out. (more…)
Jacob Hansen November 15th, 2013
Although many investors and lawyers are focusing on China and the Middle East, South Korea is quickly gaining attention as an economic powerhouse. The South Korean economy surprised skeptics by growing 0.9% in the January to March quarter. Increases in construction, investments, and exports all added up to push South Korea’s growth rate to a two-year high.
Susannah Griffee May 31st, 2013
The winners for the Chambers Asia-Pacific Wards 2013 were announced on
February 28. The awards recognize national and international law firms across the
region for their notable achievements and outstanding work in legal services. This
year’s Award for Outstanding Contribution to Legal Profession goes to Kap You
(Kevin) Kim, Head of the International Arbitration & Litigation Practice Group at
South Korea-based Bae, Kim & Lee LLC. A veteran of the international arbitration
community at large, Kim is recognized for his dedication to clients in both Korea and
Jiun-wen Teoh March 22nd, 2013
Japan’s government debt could lead to economic opportunities for the U.S. Japan’s new Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, recently met with President Obama for the first time to talk face-to-face about an ambitious program to revive his country’s stalled economy. Japan’s unfortunate government debt, negative trade balance and other economic concerns may be pushing it towards free-trade negotiations with the United States. American officials have wanted to be able to trade with Japan because of it’s potential to open up it’s isolated yet promising markets and to increase U.S.’s presence in Asia. The Prime Minister’s plan for economic restructuring is undefined but it is already controversial. The Japanese government’s proposals for government stimulus spending have lead the International Monetary Fund to caution that its efforts could be short-lived and aren’t the best way to tame the government’s debt. (more…)
Zara Mohidin March 5th, 2013
As the U.S. economy shows signs of recovery this year, many Americans are expecting for the jobs lost to their cheaper and more efficient counterparts in the East to return home. As the one of the first Presidents to grapple with the shifting global economy naturally, President Obama is the most prominent advocate for “insourcing”. During his re-election campaign the President often said that he “want[ed] to be a pioneer of insourcing” and since then, global companies such as Apple and Lenovo have said that they plan to bring production facilities home from Asia. China’s rising wage costs and declining labor force seems to motivate insourcing enthusiasts however, the U.S Bureau of Labor says that even though China’s labor costs are rising hourly manufacturing still costs about 25 times less than that in the U.S. (more…)
Zara Mohidin February 22nd, 2013
With top firms having weathered the economic crisis, these firms are now continuing to offer competitive packages in Asia in order to attract and retain top legal talent. Firms remain committed to the Asian markets, investing resources into their foreign offices, hiring or promoting partners, and offering competitive remuneration packages to their strongest attorneys, especially bilingual ones. While ex-pat packages have for the most part remained stable at top firms, especially in more mature legal markets like Tokyo and Hong Kong, overall there has been more variance than ever.
Joshua Flagg November 8th, 2012
In May, leaders from China, Japan, and South Korea agreed to begin serious negotiations on a trilateral free-trade agreement. By combining the world’s second, third, and twelfth largest economies, such an agreement would rival the European Union and the North American Free Trade Agreement, and thus redraw the global trade map.
A regional trade agreement as cooperative and vigorous as the EU, let alone NAFTA, has never fully institutionalized in Asia. These talks may be the start of true integration and unprecedented open trade in the region (think ASEAN+3 in its highest realization). Such developments may spur Australia, New Zealand, and India to join as well.
Should the agreements move forward, the United States would probably seek to deepen its ties to Asian economies. The U.S. and South Korea have recently adopted the KORUS FTA, economically bridging two sides of the Pacific. South Korea also has plans to renegotiate bilateral trade with China later this year. In order to keep its powerful role in Asia, the U.S. may encourage Japan to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership in order to prevent polarization of strictly Asian and Pacific economies.
A successful trilateral trade agreement between the three big East Asian nations would generate enormous market demand in an already booming region. The last decade has seen a huge increase in the number of FTAs signed by Asian countries, from 3 in 2000 to 71 in 2012. A region-wide agreement would consolidate these FTAs and grow the Asian markets even further.
If the KORUS FTA spelled good news for U.S. law firms seeking new Asian markets, an East Asian regional trade agreement has the prospect to open even more doors of opportunity
Serhan Ayhan July 9th, 2012
US firms such as Cleary Gottlieb and Paul Hastings were among the first to announce thDLat they would be opening Seoul offices following the FTA.
The trade deal has already radically changed the legal marketplace in South Korea. After a five-year, three-step opening process, U.S. and South Korean firms will be able to launch joint ventures. U.S. firms can now employ South Korean attorneys and appoint South Korean lawyers as partners in the American firms.
The growth that has made South Korea Asia’s fourth-largest economy also entails legal complexities that will require expertise by a new generation of lawyers—particularly from the United States.
While South Korean conglomerates have traditionally created in-house legal offices to tackle these complexities, smaller and medium-sized companies are now better positioned to compete by hiring U.S. attorneys through law firms at more reasonable rates. By bringing new skills and services to the South Korean market, US lawyers will compete with the traditionally local legal market.
Serhan Ayhan July 3rd, 2012