Asian focus to benefit Australian lawyers

The rising trend of firms looking towards Asia to boost their partnership ranks is promising for Australian lawyers says an Asia-Pacific managing partner

The rising trend of firms looking towards Asia to boost their partnership ranks is promising for Australian lawyers, an Asia-Pacific managing partner has told Australasian Lawyer.

The latest round of partnership promotions amongst international firms that have a significant presence in Asia has continued the trend of Asian associates being promoted. 
“There is definitely a general trend amongst globally focussed firms of ‘looking east,” Thomas Brown, chair of Allen & Overy’s Asia-Pacific management committee said.

According to The Lawyer, in 2011, just two out of the 21 promotions were in Asia, accounting for just 9.5 per cent.

This compared to 26 per cent in 2013 and 18.7 per cent this year with some firms still to make their announcements.

“Where you are seeing spikes in departments being made up in Asia, it could either be a firm who is looking to grow in Asia or a firm that is already there which is going through the cycle of maturing partnerships and replacing talent,” Brown said.

“In a lot of the global firms Asian and Australian lawyers are in high demand,” Brown added.

“I think that it’s a fascinating time in the Asia-Pacific region.  What is really exciting about Asia now is that there is an abundance of talent in each market and that talent tends to be ethnically of that market and perhaps also trained in the US or UK.”

Brown explained that the enormous demand for infrastructure in the region, which required a vast amount of finance and banking expertise, was partly responsible for driving the demand for Asia-Pacific based lawyers.

“The other drivers that you can see are the very strong and sophisticated Asia-Pacific based corporates who are looking to go overseas.  There is still a lot of outbound investment from countries like Japan and China.”

Brown also said that much stronger trading relationships were being forged within the Asia-Pacific region, resulting in a spike in cross-border M&A and other kinds of investment activity.  

Firms looking east
News from Clifford Chance that seven of its 21 newly-appointed partners are located in Asia shows leading global firms are increasingly looking east when it comes to finding new partners.

Clifford Chance had the largest promotions round in the region of all the magic circle firms, with Linklaters making up six out of a total 21 promotion

Amongst its 23 recent global partner promotions, Herbert Smith Freehills promoted nine Australians, two of whom will be based in Singapore and Hong Kong respectively.
This month King & Wood Mallesons also promoted seven Australian, and ten Chinese lawyers to partnerships.  

Amongst the 16 new Allen & Overy partners announced in February, two were based in Australia and three in Hong Kong.  

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