Advancements in attitudes still being tested by ongoing Covid-19 crisis

10 October 2021 is World Mental Health Day, which seems particularly timely as we continue to confront Covid-19. The legal industry, both law firms and in-house departments, are increasingly seeking to promote the importance of an emotionally and mentally healthy workplace and at the same time demonstrate their respect for the rights, diversity, and individual needs of their staff. Most law firms have taken progressive initiatives to promote and support their employees’ mental health and well-being.

Covid-19, unfortunately, has had an impact on the mental well-being of many lawyers and has placed them in a potentially more fragile state. Despite the world slowly emerging from the Covid-19 pandemic, under-pressure lawyers’ mental health is still at risk. The transition period of lawyers and law firm staff returning to the workplace after a long period of remote working should be identified and proactively managed.

Disruptions of Covid-19

The impact of the massive disruptions of 2020 and 2021 on the population’s mental health state is undoubtedly a severe issue, and legal practitioners are not immune from the impact. According to ALM’s 2021 Mental Health and Substance Abuse Survey results, 70% of respondents (lawyers and staff) said the pandemic worsened their mental health. [1] Lawyers are struggling with unprecedented challenges such as large-scale illness and loss of life that produce widespread grief. Social distancing and stay-at-home orders led to social isolation and loneliness, on the one hand, and rapidly reconfigured family roles and responsibilities on the other. Uncertainty over job security, online meetings, longer or more disjointed working hours for lawyers, additional childcare, and caring responsibilities as schools closed intensified feelings of anxiety and pressure.

Mass remote working was the default. The physical and emotional division between lawyers’ work and family lives has also been compromised, which substantially impacts lawyers’ emotional and mental health. The LexisNexis Bellwether Report 2020 revealed that 50% of firms cited staff morale and wellbeing as their top concern six months into the pandemic, compared to only 26% in the first couple of months after the first lockdown[2]. Many law firm leaders are concerned that remote working has had a severe impact on the culture and operation of their firm. Morgan Stanley CLO Eric Grossman also shared the same idea and asked in July that the bank’s outside counsel push for in-office returns. The legal profession is dependent on a mentoring model for development and relies heavily on ingrained client teams interpersonal development and collaboration.

Although many global law firms planned to get their lawyers and staff to return to their usual place of work, there is uncertainty about the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The recent uncertainty regarding the return to work is further deteriorating the well-being of law firm staff. In the ABA Profile of the Legal Profession 2021, lawyers at large law firms were more worried about returning to the office. “Nearly 3 out of 4 attorneys at large firms with 250 or more lawyers said they were concerned that being inside an office building for a working day will not be safe in 2021 and 2022 for various reasons, including lack of good ventilation and poor security in public spaces. Similar percentages of lawyers expressed the same concerns at firms with 100 to 249 lawyers and firms with 50-99 lawyers (75%).” The worst is that more than 1 out of 4 lawyers in large firms said they were worried about expressing health and safety concerns to their employers.[3]

Law Firm Support

Employers have a statutory duty to ensure the health and safety of their employees. Also, systemic changes designed to support and provide appropriate resources to lawyers will avoid costs associated with lawyer mental health incurred further down the line and, more importantly, create efficiencies that will increase law firms’ long-term financial stability and growth. During the post-pandemic period, more and more employees of law firms have begun to return to the office. What can law firms and chambers do to support their legal professionals and staff?

Changing the discourse around mental health must be on the agenda. Law firms must communicate their intentions and details of returning to office policies transparently. When everyone prioritizes health and safety, it is best for law firms to allow their employees to share concerns about returning to the office after they have worked remotely for almost a year. Law firms should acknowledge that many of their staff will take time, and many may not wish to go back to offices as was previously usual. Tailor-made on-boarding policies for returning staff are a good start.

Law firms should introduce support networks. Facilitating personal connections is a way for law firms to support their staff during the pandemic and after. Law firms should also encourage senior colleagues to foster supportive relationships with junior lawyers so that they would feel comfortable talking to their supervisor about challenges or issues that arise day to day. Embedding network sharing and discussion into monthly meetings could normalize the conversations and reduce any anxiety regarding new challenges. Providing support and assistance to staff struggling with their emotional and mental health should be a priority. The availability of professional help should be stressed.

Covid-19 has forced law firms to roll out flexible working methods over a long periods. On the one hand, flexible working policies saved law firms from an unprecedented crisis. But, on the other hand, it created many problems, such as the blurred distinction between work and life boundaries. The challenge now is to combine the benefits of flexible working with the advantages of an office environment. Any working practice should be rooted in what positives they bring to staff and clients. When a law firm gets the working practice right, they will continue to attract and retain the best staff and, as a result, be more competitive in an evolving market.

After the Pandemic

Covid-19 has put the mental health of lawyers and law firms’ staff in a vulnerable position. But interestingly, all of sudden, mental health is no longer a stigma within the legal industry. Now, law firms and partners realize that people are the greatest asset in any legal practice. A healthier law firm, lawyers, and staff will provide better service to the clients. So, let’s continue along the road toward improved mental health beyond Covid-19.

[1] Dylan Jackson, “Legal Professional Were Already Struggling With Stress and Isolation, and the Pandemic Has Made Things Much Worse,” ALM, May 2021, https://www.law.com/americanlawyer/2021/05/03/lawyers-were-already-struggling-with-stress-and-isolation-and-the-pandemic-has-made-things-much-worse/ (accessed 1 Sep 2021)

[2] Amy Simpson, “Mental health of lawyers and COVID-19”, The Law Society England & Wales, March 2021, https://www.lawsociety.org.uk/en/topics/small-firms/mental-health-of-lawyers-and-covid-19 (accessed 1 Sep 2021)

[3] “Profile of the Legal Profession 2021”, American Bar Associate, July 2021, https://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/administrative/news/2021/0721/polp.pdf (accessed 1 Sep 2021)


Related Topics:

Conversation with Dr. Frances Cheng, Specialist in Psychiatry, OT&P Healthcare MindworX

The Legal Industry Commits to Improving Mental Health but Still a Long Way to Go


#WorldMentalHealthDay #mentalhealth #legal #law #lawyers #attorney #privatepractice #lawfirms #legalcounsel


Mishcon de Reya doubles down in Asia with Hong Kong launch

By Sam Kenworthy 

Mishcon de Reya has always marched to the beat of its own drum, at least under the stewardship of Executive Chairperson Kevin Gold, who became Managing Partner of the firm almost 25 years ago. Then a respected but sleepy London private client/litigation boutique, the firm has built on those foundations to become one of the more eyecatching and innovative firms in the City while essentially remaining true to its roots. This drive to do things differently is exemplified by their stunning London office at Africa House in Holborn, which has been described as “looking more a like a high-end designer hotel than a law firm office”, and whose reception boasts a sushi bar. The firm is moving towards a GBP750m listing on the London Stock Exchange, which will make it the UK’s largest listed firm.

Not only has the firm seen turnover increase tenfold under Gold’s direction, it has also launched multiple sideline operations under the MDR banner, covering, inter alia, bespoke private high-net-worth services, legal tech, cyber security and brand management. This speaks of a firm with vision. In January 2020 it called time on a ten year New York venture but, unwilling to rein in its international ambitions entirely, looked east and by October of that year had launched in Singapore, prudently with a private client/high-net-worth/dispute resolution focus.

Now it has been announced that the firm has formed an association with Hong Kong litigation boutique Karas LLP, itself having recently been extricated from the former Hong Kong-Australia litigation hybrid Lipman Karas LLP. Karas LLP being a disputes and investigations practice with particular expertise in professional negligence and insolvency litigation, that fits well with one key practice of the Mishcon brand. Partner and litigation/fraud specialist Gary Miller is winging his way back to Hong Kong (having first arrived in 1977 in presumably very different circumstances) to be Mishcon’s initial representative.

Now we can expect moves into the private client sector, an increasingly crowded market in Hong Kong with Charles Russell Speechlys another UK firm with a blue-chip private client practice having made inroads in Hong Kong with recent senior hires. When Mishcon closed in New York, the final partners to leave were patent and IP specialists, and the firm had maintained a broad, multi-disciplinary operation that did not mirror the activity of the office in London. With Singapore as the forerunner, it is expected that the Asian arm will stick closer to the firm’s core business.

#pirvatepractice #marketreview #marketoverview #legalindustry #law


The Age of the Chief Legal Officer

By Sherry Xu

The role of Chief Legal Officer (CLO) has been growing in importance as C-suite and board leaders become more aware of the elevated risk conditions they are working in and the long-term cost of those risks. This heightened awareness has correspondingly caused high-functioning legal teams to expand their priorities and capabilities to address broader business requirements. Due to this intensified awareness, CLOs have been given increasing authority to direct their corporate’s changing strategy and be meticulous in ensuring their business is safe from reputational and financial risks. In addition, their advice and input have become integral to business decisions and organizational strategies of expansion and cross-border business operations. According to LinkedIn Economic Graph Research, the CLO role was listed as the sixth fastest-growing designation of C-Suite hires of 2020 with 23% growth[1].

CLO or GC?

Both a CLO and General Counsel (GC) are responsible for heading up a company’s legal function, so both need solid legal backgrounds and strong management skills. In addition, both roles require the right candidate to be commercially savvy and provide business-oriented solutions.

While a GC is widely regarded as a more traditional high-level legal executive role within a company, the CLO title signals that the role is more of a top operational executive who works with other chief executives to make business decisions and formulate corporate strategies. CLOs have more opportunity to impact the business decision-making processes by regularly participating in board meetings to provide input on strategy development, governance issues and advising executives on non-legal matters, solidifying their role as an essential partner to the business. Therefore, the CLO, in general, has a more profound involvement in the business operation and a broader view of the business as a whole. It falls within the CLOs responsibility and authority to set up a business strategy in the industry to align with risk management and to generate revenue within a designated time frame strategically, which may, in turn, reflect on the company’s stock price. CLOs also take up the traditional head of legal role to build internal procedures for legal compliance and other risk control matters.

Depending on the industry and business model in many large companies, some of the risk management functions (data governance, ethics & compliance, intellectual property, safety, security, and trade compliance, etc.) may not report to GCs. However, when a business goes global or expands industry coverage, a broader corporate governance structure at the top executive level is needed. So the question is, who is in a better position to take on the head of this expanded corporate governance function? Top legal executives seem an ideal option as they come from a legal background and should have solid regulatory compliance knowledge, a successful track record of enabling business teams to achieve their business targets, crisis management capability, cross-border and international deal experience, and strong legislation knowledge and connections in jurisdictions where they are active. As a result, we witnessed more and more companies naming their top legal executives as CLOs when their businesses grow and diversify.

What makes a good CLO?

Becoming a CLO at a prominent company is not simply a matter of rising internally through the ranks or toiling away for years at a top-tier international law firm. In today’s cut-throat competitive marketplace, successful CLOs need to excel across a range of key competencies and demonstrate their ability to be a key asset to their C-suite leadership. If you are looking to become a CLO, here are four core qualities you must cultivate to be successful in the role.

  1. Cement General Counsel role initially:In a fast-paced business environment and under ever-changing regulatory scrutiny, every executive of the C-suite has to be an industry/sector expert to move quickly and make sensible business decisions at a breath-neck pace. As a subject matter expert, a successful CLO needs to be an accomplished General Counsel (& Company Secretary) with proven industry experience and solid technical skills to align legal and business strategies and ensure the legal efficiency of the corporation. Also, you will have engaged beyond your organization and throughout your industry to establish industry-wide networks. With these networks, you can work well with regulators and relevant subject matter experts. Thus, the next CLO should also be an accomplished legal tactician.
  1. Develop senior leadership skills:The skills cited as most indispensable for C-suite executives are those that constitute leadership. Today’s CLOs should be inspirational leaders who unite in-house legal functions other risk control functions , and business units to deliver in a non-authoritarian manner. Also, CLOs must be strong yet determined to set the business’s strategic goals and then inspire all employees to implement these, like all the other C-Suite leaders. CLOs also need executive courage to be confident working across and leading multiple functions and take ownership and make difficult choices and decisions when necessary. Last but not least, you have to be a visionary leader who desires to change and consistently gather information used to forecast general trends within the industry/sector.
  1. Be a strategic business partner:The CLO role isn’t just a lawyer anymore but a strategic business partner, business analyst, and risk manager on the senior executive team. The CLO must not only proactively defend the company but also grow and drive the company from a business perspective, working as a partner, rather than only an advisor, with C-suite executives to solve complex business problems and prevent potential risks. Today’s CLOs should have the ability to lead the teams and create cross-functional relationships plus displaying strong business acumen to accelerate the company’s growth. To achieve this, you must have a complete understanding of the business objectives and operations as well as institutional policies and procedures and the regulatory environment within which they operate. 
  1. Embrace changes:Change is inevitable. For example, technological advancements of recent decades have reshaped societies that vary in every jurisdiction around the world. Needless to say the consumer and technology industry, even traditional industries, such as manufacturing companies, are on the front line encountering digital challenges oriented from new technologies. Digital transformation is not just about automating the assembly line or better analysing existing data. It involves new business models and substantial changes in operations. In response to these changes, regulators in different jurisdictions will evaluate the environment and issue new laws and regulations when necessary. CLOs must have the ability/knowledge to predict legislative or regulatory trends which will come off the back of changes to ensure their businesses are protected from potential reputational, legal, financial, and other risks. In addition, on the company operational level, CLOs should establish new/enhanced risk control systems to cope with the new challenges and risks from the changes. In achieving these, CLOs need to be comfortable in embracing change and proactively leading their teams to be adaptable and forward-thinking.

[1] George Anders, “Who’s reaching the C-Suite in 2020? These 16 roles have momentum”, LinkedIn, November 2020, https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/whos-reaching-c-suite-2020-16-roles-have-momentum-george-anders/ (accessed 26 July 2021)

—- —- —-

Sherry Xu (Director, Hughes-Castell)
Sherry is a Director of Hughes-Castell’s Shanghai and Hong Kong offices and has recently launched a well-received interview series, Leaders in Law. She has substantial years’ experience in in-house legal and compliance recruitment in Asia and has built a strong reputation with the legal community across the region. She works closely with senior management, top legal executives, and administrative and human resources teams on developing and implementing recruitment strategies at both local and regional levels. Sherry obtained a first-class LLB degree from a top-tier PRC university and completed her LLM Degree at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Consultant Spotlight: Sherry Xu

Legal Move Updates (Oct – Dec 2021)

Editor’s note: This is an ongoing list.

October 2021

7 October – Weil, Gotshal & Manges (Hong Kong, China)

U.S. firm Weil, Gotshal & Manges has hired insolvency expert Kathleen Aka as a partner in Hong Kong from Ropes & Gray.

Aka advises on financial restructuring, creditor enforcement, formal insolvency, insolvency litigation, distressed M&A, and distressed secondary debt trading. She joined the Hong Kong office of Ropes & Gray in 2014, and was made a partner in 2018. In 2019, Aka was named on the ALB 40 Under 40 list. (from http://www.legalbusinessonline.com

7 October – IndusLaw (Mumbai, India)

India’s IndusLaw has grown its corporate practice with the hire of Ravi Kumar as a partner in Mumbai from Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas (CAM).

Kumar’s hire comes days after IndusLaw lost Mumbai corporate partner Sudipta Routh to rival L&L Partners.

Kumar advises on public and private M&A, private equity transactions and joint ventures. He spent his entire career at CAM and the legacy Amarchand & Mangaldas & Suresh A Shroff & Co. (from au.legalbusinessonline.com/

6 October – ZICO Insights Law (Singapore, Singapore)

ZICO Insights Law, the ZICO Law network’s Singapore member firm, has hired Liu Hern Kuan (L) and Vincent Ooi as the head and deputy head of its tax practice, respectively.

Both Liu and Ooi join from local firm Tan Peng Chin. They are ZICO Insights’ second and third senior lateral hires this year; the firm hired corporate lawyer Jeremiah Huang as a director from RHTLaw in March.

Liu, who has more than 25 years of tax experience, was earlier a partner and head of the tax practice at Singapore Big Four firm Rajah & Tann. He previously worked with Big Four accounting firms KPMG and PwC. (from http://www.legalbusinessonline.com)

6 October – Dentons (Hong Kong, China)

Dentons has hired David Blumenfeld as the head of its Asia-Pacific real estate practice from Paul Hastings, where he held a similar role. He is based in Hong Kong.

Blumenfeld’s clientele includes private equity funds, financial institutions and investment banks. He has experience in equity and debt transactions, and China in-bound and out-bound real estate acquisition, joint venture, and financing transactions. (from http://www.legalbusinessonline.com)

4 October – Goodwin (Hong Kong, China)

Global law firm Goodwin announced today that Phil Culhane and Elyn Xing have joined the firm’s Hong Kong office as partners in the global Private Investment Funds practice. Culhane and Xing previously worked together at an international law firm.

Culhane has over 30 years of experience in advising on the formation of private investment funds. He has particular expertise with representing Asia-based alternative asset managers, from start-up first time funds to established multi-strategy firms.

Xing specializes in advising sponsors of private investment funds, co-investment vehicles and separately managed accounts, covering numerous sectors and strategies, including debt, energy, growth capital and emerging markets funds. (from http://www.law.com)

4 October – SIAC (Singapore, Singapore)

Former co-head of international arbitration and public law at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Lucy Reed, has stepped into the role of president of the court of arbitration at the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC). Reed succeeds Gary Born after his third term and six years as SIAC’s president. (from http://www.law.com)

1 October – White & Case (Tokyo, Japan)

Global law firm White & Case LLP has expanded its Global Mergers & Acquisitions Practice with the addition of Naoya Shiota as a partner in Tokyo.

Naoya is a mergers & acquisitions lawyer who advises global private equity clients and Japanese corporate clients on cross-border and domestic acquisitions and disposals. He has substantial experience advising on transactions in a wide range of sectors, particularly the automotive, technology and entertainment sectors. Naoya joins White & Case from Mori Hamada & Matsumoto, where he was a partner. Naoya is admitted to practice in both Japan and New York. (from http://www.whitecase.com

1 October – Dentons (Melbourne, Australia)

Dentons has strengthened its Patents offering with new patent partner Steven Wulff bringing his expertise to the Melbourne office.

Steven specialises in strategic patent and innovation counselling for technology start-up companies. He advises clients across a wide range of industries on patent and intellectual property matters, including patent drafting and prosecution. (from http://www.law.com)

1 October – Linklaters (Singapore, Singapore)

Linklaters today announced the hire of market-leading energy and construction lawyer Mark Veitch as Head of Asia Construction in its energy and infrastructure practice, based in the firm’s Singapore office.

Mark has over 14 years of specialist construction experience in the energy and infrastructure market, focusing on major projects for downstream hydrocarbons, industrial estates, manufacturing, transport and utility infrastructure and power. He joins the firm from Herbert Smith Freehills where he led their front-end construction practice for Southeast Asia. Prior to joining Herbert Smith Freehills, Mark was a senior associate in the Global Transactions practice at King & Spalding LLP. (from http://www.law.com)

1 October – Macquarie Group (Sydney, Australia)

KWM Australian M&A Head quits for General Counsel role at a major client. King & Wood Mallesons Australian head of mergers and acquisitions and banking and finance Evie Bruce is leaving the firm to join local bank Macquarie Group. Bruce will join Macquarie in January 2022 as group general counsel and head of legal and governance, and will work alongside incumbent GC Michael Herring until he leaves in May 2022. (from http://www.law.com)

Happy 2021 Mid-Autumn Festival

𝐇𝐚𝐩𝐩𝐲 𝐌𝐢𝐝-𝐀𝐮𝐭𝐮𝐦𝐧 𝐅𝐞𝐬𝐭𝐢𝐯𝐚𝐥!
Wishing you a happy, enjoyable, and fun-filled celebration, surrounded by family and friends. Happy Mid-Autumn Festival.

花好月圆庆中秋! 愿您事事全圆满!


Singapore attracts attention from the US, UK and beyond

By Sam Kenworthy

As the Singapore legal market continues to observe internal movement, we have also seen new openings over the past 12 months, not surprising in itself as international firms have long jockeyed for position in the Lion City. However, alongside the headline-grabbing moves of US giants Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe and McDermott, Will & Emery, there have also been forays from Korea, the PRC and India.

Orrick pivoted from a Hong Kong office focused primarily on private equity and capital markets to an energy and infrastructure-oriented South East Asia offering, with the strategic recruitment of Jon Thursby from Watson, Farley & Williams following a team hire from the same firm in London. McDermott went in a similar direction, swapping a corporate focus in China for another projects practice after hiring Ignatius Hwang from Squire Patton Boggs.

Korean giants Bae, Kim & Lee have relocated their head of South East Asia Eric Yang to launch the Singapore office, he previously having performed a similar role for the firm’s Myanmar branch. The firm also has offices in China, Indonesia, VietnamHong Kong, and Dubai.

AllBright Law Offices have made a similar move in relocating two partners from their Shanghai headquarters. Despite most of the major PRC firms making inroads into the Hong Kong market in recent years with some eyecatching hires, Singapore seemingly remains of little interest to the Chinese legal market, with Sino-Australian firm King & Wood Mallesons the only other notable outpost of the major PRC players.

With India being a closed market it is interesting to note Singapore openings for two of the country’s most prestigious firms, Khaitan & Co and Cyril Armachand Mangaldas, with both firms expected to focus on offering Indian law expertise and trying to make inroads into Singapore’s lucrative International Arbitration market. The two firms announced their office launches within months of each other, in a scenario reminiscent of a period in 2012/13 when Japan’s Big Four (Nishimura & Asahi, Nagashima, Ohno & Tsunematsu, Mori Hamada & Matsumoto, and Anderson, Mori and Tomotsune) all opened offices in the city state. Let’s see if more Indian firms follow their lead.

Whereas Bae, Kim & Lee, AllBright, Khaitan and Cyril Armachand Mangaldas are all expected to maintain offices of smaller numbers to begin with, one would expect Orrick and McDermott to be more ambitious in their growth plans. Hwang’s former firm Squire Patton Boggs has been very aggressive on the lateral hiring front in recent years and Latham & Watkins recently announced a group hire of three partners from Shearman & Sterling and Freshfields. As firms continue to reconfigure their Asia strategies, Singapore seems to be the current hotspot.

The right time for lawyers to return to the office?

Morgan Stanley’s Chief Legal Officer, Eric Grossman, has demanded their outside law firms return their lawyers to the office en masse. However most law firms who act for Morgan Stanley have already incorporated some remote working into their return plans after the pandemic. The request immediately delivers a real headache for firms trying to placate both their key clients and employees. Do they perform a 180 degree turn on agreed terms on the basis of one client’s request?

What You Need to Know About Grossman’s Memo

In his memo dated 15 July, Grossman asserted that the profession cannot long endure a remote working model which he felt would compromise performance.

We choose to hire (the law firms) all because of the quality of your lawyers and the product they deliver. I strongly believe that firms that return to the office will have a significant performance advantage over those that do not, and we will see that advantage reflected in their client service and the ability to deliver successful outcomes for Morgan Stanley,” Grossman wrote.[i]

Market Reaction

Most law firms have accommodated increased remote working flexibility into their return plans, post-pandemic. However, Grossman’s stance came as a bombshell and threw a spanner in the works of these recently established plans. Since the bank is a top-tier client and competition is so high, firms would ordinarily bend over backward to maintain good relations. Although such firms that have advised Morgan Stanley have, unsurprisingly, refused to comment on Grossman’s demand, some of their return announcements have already factored in that office attendance would depend on client and practice needs[ii]. Law firms’ leaders need to find a balanced return model to meet the firm’s business needs and those of their clients, especially the significant players, while also providing flexibility for their staff.

Will Grossman’s demand create a snowball effect in the legal industry? Probably not. Legal leaders from 3M, Adobe, Coinbase, Dell, Lexion, Qualcomm, and W.R. Grace[iii] have a different view of remote working than the Wall Street bank, saying they don’t mind where their outside lawyers work and have no plan to request their preferred law firms bring their lawyers back to the actual office.

One female partner at a global U.K. Top 100 firm decried Grossman’s stance as “inappropriate interference and presenteeism signalling.”[iv] For women and working parents especially, any embrace of the Morgan Stanley expectations by law firms could have seriously negative consequences.

However, there is some support for Grossman’s stance. Greenberg Traurig was the only one of a half-dozen large law firms representing Morgan Stanley that endorsed Grossman’s request and praised him for having “the courage and leadership to speak out during these times.”[v] Robert Chesnut, a former General Counsel and Chief Ethics Officer at Airbnb, said that he understood Grossman’s desire for office camaraderie and tutelage.[vi]

Apprenticeship Model vs Remote Working

Grossman’s memo wasn’t focused on having lawyers in the office for the sake of keeping a close eye on them. Instead, he believes individual lawyers learn, improve and collectively deliver the best results when they are working together.[vii] His appreciation of apprenticeship culture was also shared with his peers.

PNC Bank’s Senior counsel, Ryan Thompson, shared his support in a LinkedIn post saying, “I am not saying 5 days a week in the office is necessary. I have been doing something resembling the hybrid model for 6 of the 8 years I have been in-house, but so much of my knowledge comes from in-person mentoring.”[viii] Also, several partners do also agree with Grossman’s reasoning that the personal development of young lawyers needs to be a focus.

A compromise could be the establishment of successful apprenticeship online training programs. Instead of forcing young lawyers back to the office, law firms could also try to use new technology to improve their apprenticeship programs by:

  • enhancing the learning experience;
  • using artificial intelligence and data analytics to provide close supervision of apprentices and to enhance the delivery of programs as part of the learning experience;
  • creating stronger relationships and promoting coordinated support among apprentices and enterprises;
  • monitoring of training through mobile logbooks that allow apprentices to record and demonstrate their learning and training progression.

[i] Dan Packel, “’Our Profession Cannot Long Endure a Remote Work Model,’ Morgan Stanley CLO Tells Law Firms”, http://www.law.com, American Lawyer Media International, July 2021, https://www.law.com/corpcounsel/2021/07/16/our-profession-cannot-long-endure-a-remote-work-model-morgan-stanley-clo-tells-law-firms/ (accessed 28 July 2021)

[ii] Andrew Maloney, ‘Most of Morgan Stanley’s Outside Counsel Had Already Pushed For Remote Work’, http://www.law.com, American Lawyer Media International, July 2021, https://www.law.com/americanlawyer/2021/07/21/morgan-stanleys-law-firms-have-prepared-for-increased-flexibility/ (accessed 28 July 2021)

[iii] Dan Clark, Phillip Bantz, & Hugo Guzman, ‘Will More Legal Chiefs Follow Morgan Stanley in Eschewing Remote Work?’, http://www.law.com, American Lawyer Media International, July 2021, https://www.law.com/corpcounsel/2021/07/19/will-more-legal-chiefs-follow-morgan-stanley-in-eschewing-remote-work/ (accessed 28 July 2021)

Brian Baxter & Ruiqi Chen, ‘Tech Legal Leaders Veer From Morgan Stanley Return-to-Work Order’, news.bloomberglaw.com, Bloomberg, July 2021, https://news.bloomberglaw.com/tech-and-telecom-law/tech-legal-leaders-veer-from-morgan-stanley-return-to-work-order (accessed 28 July 2021)

[iv] Hannah Roberts, ‘Top UK Lawyers Expect U-Turn on Remote Working Policies in Response to Morgan Stanley’, http://www.law.com, American Lawyer Media International, July 2021, https://www.law.com/international-edition/2021/07/21/top-uk-lawyers-expect-u-turn-on-remote-working-policies-in-response-to-morgan-stanley/  (accessed 28 July 2021)

[v] Dan Clark, Phillip Bantz, & Hugo Guzman, ‘Will More Legal Chiefs Follow Morgan Stanley in Eschewing Remote Work?’, http://www.law.com, American Lawyer Media International, July 2021, https://www.law.com/corpcounsel/2021/07/19/will-more-legal-chiefs-follow-morgan-stanley-in-eschewing-remote-work/ (accessed 28 July 2021)

[vi] Brian Baxter & Ruiqi Chen, ‘Tech Legal Leaders Veer From Morgan Stanley Return-to-Work Order’, news.bloomberglaw.com, Bloomberg, July 2021, https://news.bloomberglaw.com/tech-and-telecom-law/tech-legal-leaders-veer-from-morgan-stanley-return-to-work-order (accessed 28 July 2021)

[vii] Dan Clark, Phillip Bantz, & Hugo Guzman, ‘Will More Legal Chiefs Follow Morgan Stanley in Eschewing Remote Work?’, http://www.law.com, American Lawyer Media International, July 2021, https://www.law.com/corpcounsel/2021/07/19/will-more-legal-chiefs-follow-morgan-stanley-in-eschewing-remote-work/ (accessed 28 July 2021)

[viii] Dan Clark, Phillip Bantz, & Hugo Guzman, ‘Will More Legal Chiefs Follow Morgan Stanley in Eschewing Remote Work?’, http://www.law.com, American Lawyer Media International, July 2021, https://www.law.com/corpcounsel/2021/07/19/will-more-legal-chiefs-follow-morgan-stanley-in-eschewing-remote-work/ (accessed 28 July 2021)

Kirkland makes unusual step into Asian Real Estate

Kirkland & Ellis’ hire of Paul Hastings’ Paul Guan is not necessarily a surprise in the context of the Chicago giant’s enduring interest in swelling its private equity ranks, but a foray into real estate remains a rare occurrence in the Asian legal markets. Whereas the nuts-and-bolts conveyancing remains very much the preserve of local firms with lower overheads in the larger international markets, indeed protected in Singapore’s divided legal system, high-level investment in one of the more stable global asset classes remains out of the cross-hairs of the international players.

Back in the early 2000s, Eastern Europe was opening up as a greenfield region for ambitious investors and chief among that wave of investment was real estate. Major UK players expanded in the region, led by their clients, and aggressively marketed their capabilities. For a few years the billing engines of the ‘Magic Circle’ and the chasing pack were not the traditional pillars of M&A, PE, antitrust or dispute resolution but real estate. The four-day international property exhibition MIPIM, held annually in the somewhat faded glamour of Cannes in the south of France, officially attracted nearly 27,000 delegates from legal, investment, development, banking and government, while unofficial figures estimated attendee numbers at north of 50,000. Firms wouldn’t blink at hiring luxurious yachts upon where champagne would flow near-constantly as the most ambitious movers and shakers were pursued. Investment in real estate practices remains core to any successful multi-disciplinary firm in the West.

In Asia, however, enthusiasm remains muted. While firms that are real estate powerhouses in Europe are active to a degree in investments here, the activity largely piggybacks off M&A or PE deals, or under the umbrella of “leisure and hospitality”, and partners aren’t specialized in the real estate field. Notable recent movers include Wayne Ma who joined BCLP from DLA Piper at the turn of the year, both firms being diners at the real estate top table in Europe. Stephenson Harwood hired Janice Garton, again from DLA Piper, making clear their own intentions to maintain a presence following several departures from their partnership ranks. But other sector-specific high-profile moves were scarce.

Indeed MIPIM has an Asia-focused offshoot which has never attained the status or attendance figures of the European flagship, perhaps reflecting generally more muted enthusiasm levels in the industry. The 80s and 90s were the boom times for construction boutiques in Hong Kong and Singapore as development and infrastructure projects surged. Perhaps the oft-anticipated investment wave in Asian emerging markets will see a similar rise in real estate interest.

Internal Recruitment: Administrative Assistant

Hughes-Castell (Hong Kong) Limited is the longest established legal recruitment consultancy in Asia.

We are currently seeking an administrative assistant with a professional manner for an administrative role to be responsible for day-to-day operations and provide general administrative support to our team based in Sai Ying Pun.

We would love to hear from you, if you:

  • Have recently graduated, or already have 1-2 year(s) of experience in an administrative or clerical role
  • Have good computer skills
  • Have an education level of Form 5-7 or HKDSE
  • Have a good command of written & spoken English/Chinese (HKDSE English with Level 2 or above / HKCEE English with an E or above)

This is an excellent opportunity to join an international legal recruitment company. Interested candidates, please send your updated CV to Ms Wong at application@hughescastell.com

Internal Recruitment: Recruitment Researcher

Hughes-Castell, multi-award-winning legal recruitment and executive search firm, was established in London in 1985 and Hong Kong in 1986. We have spent more than 35 years advising clients and lawyers on leadership succession, recruitment and professional development across Asia Pacific and built a strong reputation with top Fortune/Fortune Global corporations, financial services institutions and international/Chinese law firms across the region. We are currently expanding our team in Hong Kong and are keen to speak with high-calibre Execution/Research specialists. 
We are looking for someone with the following qualifications and attributes:
  • A good University degree. A Business/Law degree would be an advantage;
  • Some research/search experience such as paralegal or internship experience would be useful, but is not essential;
  • Native-level English is highly desirable, but anyone confident in both verbal and written English communications is welcome to apply;
  • An enthusiasm and ability to speak professionally and confidently with senior management, lawyers, and HR professionals;
  • Good IT skills;
  • A confident personality with a willingness to work within an energetic and friendly working environment.
The role offers:
  • Working as part of a friendly and supportive team;
  • Providing a unique insight into legal market intelligence for those either considering or committed to a future career in law or legal recruitment;
  • The opportunity for personal and technical development, with potential for future career progression;
  • Experience working with key people in the legal and recruitment sectors. 
This is an excellent opportunity to join an international legal recruitment company. Interested candidates, please send your updated CV to Mudita Valakati at mudita@hughescastell.com 
Your privacy and the privacy of others are important. By you supplying us with your personal data, which includes your CV and/or details of your referees, you have agreed to our collection, use and disclosure of such data to assist you in finding a job now or in future, as well as for marketing purposes. You agree that you have obtained appropriate consent to provide to us data from other person(s).

Legal Move Updates (Jul – Sep 2021)

Editor’s note: This is an ongoing list.

September 2021

30 Sep – White & Case (Seoul, Korea)

U.S. firm White & Case has strengthened its global project development and finance practice with the hire of Sungjin Kang as a partner in Seoul from Latham & Watkins.

Kang, who spent more than a decade with Latham in Hong Kong and Seoul, advises on various project-related transactions, as well as on transportation finance and M&A. He earlier worked with Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy for nearly nine years. (from http://www.legalbusinessonline.com)

30 Sep – Stephenson Harwood (Singapore, Singapore)

Stephenson Harwood has hired private wealth expert Suzanne Johnston as a partner in Singapore. Johnston was most recently director and senior legal counsel at financial services firm UBS.

Johnston previously worked in the UK with firms such as Maurice Turnor Gardner, Harcus Sinclair and Linklaters. She relocating to Singapore in 2013 to join Withers, in 2013 where she spent more than five years.

Specialising in international tax and wealth planning, Johnston advises high net-worth individuals, professional trustees, family offices and private banks. (from http://www.legalbusinessonline.com)

29 Sep – Oon & Bazul (Singapore, Singapore)

Singapore’s Oon & Bazul has added litigators Priscilla Lua and Jerald Foo as partners from Cavenagh Law, the Singapore law firm of Clifford Chance, where they were both senior associates.

Lua and Foo are Oon & Bazul’s second and third lateral disputes partner hires in a matter of weeks. Shortly before this, the firm hired Benedict Eoon as a partner from Covenant Chambers.

Lua focuses on international arbitration, regulatory and internal investigations and employment matters. Before moving to Cavenagh Law, she had worked with Drew & Napier.

Meanwhile, Foo spent nearly nine years at Cavenagh Law. He represents both listed companies and public individuals before the Court of Appeal, High Court and State Courts, including the Singapore International Commercial Court. (from http://www.legalbusinessonline.com)

29 Sep – L&L Partners (Mumbai, India)

India’s L&L Partners has welcomed back Sudipta Routh as a partner in Mumbai from rival IndusLaw. He moves to L&L along with three other lawyers.

L&L has seen a series of partner exits during and following the feud between Mohit Saraf and Rajiv Luthra, which resulted in Saraf taking 21 partners with him to set up Saraf & Partners.

The firm has since looked to replenish its ranks with lateral hires, including returning L&L alumni such as Subhash Bhutoria, Piyush Mishra, Asim Abbas, Sonali Choudhry and Prabjot Singh Bhullar.

With 25 years of experienc, Routh is an expert in financing, corporate and commercial matters, and specialises in structuring funds, joint ventures, acquisitions and formulating entry and investment strategies.  (from http://www.legalbusinessonline.com)

28 Sep – MinterEllison (Sydney, Australia)

The general counsel and company secretary of Ramsay Health Care Australia has joined BigLaw firm MinterEllison as a partner in its health industry practice.

Minters has bolstered the ranks of its health industry practice with the appointment of Katrina Cunningham as a partner, meaning the practice now boasts 11 partners and over 40 lawyers. She joins as a partner in Sydney in the firm’s competition risk and regulatory team.

Prior to joining the firm, Ms Cunningham was the Australian general counsel and company secretary of Ramsay Health Care Australia, where she spent the last nine years of her career. Prior to that, she spent seven years at global law firm Allens. (from http://www.lawyersweekly.com.au)

27 Sep – Allen & Overy  (Singapore, Singapore)

Allen & Overy has relocated arbitration practice partner Christopher Mainwaring-Taylor from its Paris office to Singapore, after a major departure from the base earlier this year.

Mainwaring-Taylor has been with Allen & Overy for over two decades and has experience of a number of the firm’s bases, having previously worked in the firm’s London and Dubai offices. He moved to Dubai as a senior associate in 2007 and helped the firm launch its international arbitration practice in the Middle East. (from http://www.law.com)

23 Sep – Phoenix Legal (Mumbai, India)

Indian law firm Phoenix Legal has hired Jatin Arora in Mumbai as the head of the firm’s indirect tax practice from Price Waterhouse & Co, where he was a principal.

Arora, who has appeared before high courts and various tribunals, possesses more than two decades of experience in indirect taxation. (from http://www.legalbusinessonline.com)

23 Sep – ING Philippines (Manila, Philippines)

Maria Concepcion Simundac, a former partner at Villaraza & Angangco (V&A Law), has joined banking and financial services company ING Philippines in Manila as lead legal counsel.

Simundac specialises in M&A, power and energy, construction and real estate, infrastructure, transportation and public utilities, and corporate and project finance matters. (from http://www.legalbusinessonline.com)

23 Sep – Argus Partners (Delhi, India)

India’s Argus Partners has added Rachika Sahay as a partner in the corporate and infrastructure team in Delhi from HSA Advocates.

Sahay joined HSA in 2018 from power company Ostro Energy, where she was general counsel. Having started her career at Trilegal, she later worked with energy company Weatherford.

Sahay counsels on corporate matters, which includes domestic as well as cross border joint ventures, mergers and acquisitions, private equity investments and foreign direct investments. (from http://www.asianlegalonline.com)

22 Sep – Johnson Winter & Slattery (Sydney, Australia)

The head of legal at Qantas has left the Australian carrier to rejoin a local law firm after two years at the airline. Competition and antitrust lawyer Michele Laidlaw returned to Johnson Winter & Slattery as a partner earlier this month.

Laidlaw specializes in Australian competition and consumer law, advising major multinational and ASX-listed clients across a range of industries. Her areas of expertise include contentious and noncontentious merger reviews, Federal Court litigation, Competition Tribunal review and advising on consumer protection law, JWS said in a statement. (from http://www.law.com)

17 Sep – Kewei (Shanghai, China)

Herbert Smith Freehills has hired new partner Peng Lei to its Shanghai joint operation Kewei, in order to help launch its intellectual property practice on the ground.

Lei has significant patent expertise and also advises on anti-trust related litigation across industries like manufacturing, tech and consumer goods.

He was most recently a counsel at Beijing-based Han Kun Law Offices, where he spent over five years acting on patent, trademark and antitrust litigation, as well as patent prosecution and invalidation. Prior to his time in Han Kun, Lei was an associate at King & Wood Mallesons. (from http://www.herbertsmithfreehills.com)

17 – Hogan Lovells (Shanghai, China)

Hogan Lovells meanwhile has added to its own separate Shanghai office with the addition of a investigations partner Calvin Ding from Greenberg Traurig.
Ding specialises in international anti-corruption advisory and investigations, cross-border litigation and e-discovery, as well as compliance with China’s anti-trust, anti-bribery and privacy laws. He advises companies on compliance programs, risk assessments, pre-transaction due diligence, government policies, and internal investigations.

He primarily acts for Chinese companies and individuals who deal in the tech, manufacturing, e-commerce, automotive and pharmaceuticals space. (from http://www.law.com)

16 Sep – Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton  (Toyko, Japan & Washington DC, USA)

Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton announced today the addition of Robert “Bob” Hollingshead to the firm’s Tokyo and Washington, D.C. offices as a partner on the Patent Litigation Team in its internationally recognized Intellectual Property Department. He joins from another major international law firm.

Mr. Hollingshead’s practice focuses on intellectual property disputes, including district court and International Trade Commission litigation, adversarial patent license negotiations, counseling, and international arbitration. He works with his clients to develop successful strategies for litigation, licensing, patent procurement, Inter-Partes Review, and portfolio development and leads adversarial patent licensing negotiations and transactional negotiations. While Mr. Hollingshead’s practice focuses primarily on Asia-based companies, he also represents clients in the U.S. (from http://www.ipwatchdog.com)

16 Sep – National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (Mumbai, India)

Shagoofa Rashid Khan, the head of Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas’ (CAM) national funds and investments practice, has left the firm to join the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) in Mumbai as its group general counsel.

A former head of Nishith Desai Associates’ real estate funds and international tax policy practices, Khan focuses on structuring funds, managed accounts, private equity, acquisitions, restructuring, joint ventures and strategic initiatives.

Khan joined CAM in 2016 following a string of senior in-house roles at companies like IDFC Alternatives, Tata Services and Kotak Investment Advisors. She was at Nishith Desai between 2002 and 2006. (from http://www.legalbusinessonline.com)

15 Sep – HFW (Hong Kong, China)

Holman Fenwick Willan (HFW) has added new partner Karen Cheung to its Hong Kong disputes practice, adding a new layer to the firm’s local offering.

Cheung acts on commercial litigation and arbitration matters. She advises state-owned and multinational companies on cross-border disputes, white-collar crime, shareholder disputes judicial review, and regulatory investigations.

Cheung also advises ultra-high-net-worth individuals and families in Greater China on probate litigation, matrimonial proceedings and land disputes. (from http://www.law.com)

15 Sep – Hogan Lovells (Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam)

Hogan Lovells Miami partner Gaston Fernandez is set to relocate to Vietnam, where the firm has two offices in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, as managing partner.

Fernandez advises on infrastructure and energy project financing with a focus on emerging markets. Whilst based in Miami, Fernandez specialized in Latin America projects, often with ties to Asian financiers and investors.

Fernandez will be based in Hogan Lovells’ Ho Chi Minh City office, where the firm counts seven lawyers. In Hanoi, the firm has one lawyer. (from http://www.law.com)

10 Sep – Bird & Bird (Sydney, Australia)

International law firm Bird & Bird has hired a disputes lawyer from Ashurst to join its partnership in Sydney.

The London-based firm’s hire of Julie Cheeseman, previously a counsel at Ashurst, comes at a time when dispute resolution lawyers are in strong demand in Australia.

She specializes in technology, media and telecommunications disputes covering a variety of technologies and complex implementations, including billing, inventory management, customer management and e-Health systems, as well as satellite and cable transmission networks. (from http://www.law.com)

9 Sep – L&L Partners (Delhi, India)

The Delhi office of Indian law firm L&L Partners has hired litigator Mohit Bakshi (L) as a partner from J Sagar Associates. Bakshi, who was with JSA for more than a decade, specialises in civil and corporate commercial litigation, and white-collar crimes. Meanwhile, Singh has experience of more than 17 years, including nearly a decade with L&L. His clients include financial institutions, private equity investors and Indian conglomerates, with a specific focus on energy and infrastructure sectors. (from http://www.legalbusinessonline.com)

9 Sep – Guido Hidayanto & Partners (Jakarta, Indonesia)

Indonesia’s Guido Hidayanto & Partners (GHP) has added commercial lawyer Yohanes Masengi as a partner in Jakarta from Makarim & Taira S, where he worked for more than 15 years.

Masengi advises on investment, infrastructure, power projects, ports, mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, employment and corporate restructuring.

He joined Makarim in 2005, and became the firm’s youngest partner. Masengi was named on the ALB Indonesia Rising Stars list in both 2019 and 2020. (from au.legalbusinessonline.com)

9 Sep – Withers (Hong Kong, China)

Withers has boosted its litigation and international arbitration practice in Hong Kong with the hire of two lawyers from Bird & Bird, including partner Michael Chik.

Chik is Withers’ second disputes partner addition in days. The firm recently hired commercial litigator Joseph Chu as a partner in Hong Kong from Simmons & Simmons.

Chik specialises in regulatory matters including compliance issues. He is also experienced in international arbitration under various institutional rules including proceedings conducted under ICC, SIAC and HKIAC rules. (from http://www.legalbusinessonline.com)

7 Sep – Squire Patton Boggs (Singapore & Perth, Australia)

Squire Patton Boggs has hired commodities lawyers Ivan Chia and Hazel Brewers as partners from HFW in Singapore and Brisbane, respectively.

Chia joined HFW in January 2018 from Watson, Farley & Williams, where he spent about a decade. Focusing on international energy, renewables and infrastructure projects, Chia advises on development, procurement, joint venture and M&A matters. (from http://www.legalbusinessonline.com)

7 Sep – K&L Gates (Singapore, Singapore)

K&L Gates has continued its Asia expansion with the addition of a lawyer to its Singapore partnership.

Fund formation and transactions partner Edward Bennett joins from Morgan Lewis, which he joined in 2017 after spending over 17 years at Ashurst. (from http://www.law.com)

7 Sep – Tilleke & Gibbins (Bangkok, Thailand)

Thailand-headquartered Tilleke & Gibbins has hired Derrick Khoo as a partner in Bangkok from Myanmar-focused conglomerate Marga Group, where he was general counsel.

With experience in cross-border M&A, growth equity investments, real estate, foreign direct investments, JVs and other corporate and commercial transactions, Khoo has worked in Hong Kong, Thailand, Mainland China and Singapore. (from http://www.legalbusinessonline.com

6 Sep – McDermott Will & Emery (Singapore, Singapore)

McDermott Will & Emery has secured a three-lawyer corporate team from Squire Patton Boggs in Singapore for its newly launched office just as Squire boosts its Asia Pacific commodities team with two partner hires from UK firm HFW.

The trio joining McDermott will reside in its global transactions practice and focus on general corporate work, boosting the energy and international projects expertise offered by Hwang and recently hired energy expert Merrick White, who joined the firm from King & Spalding in July and has relocated from London. (from http://www.globallegalpost.com)

2 Sep – Walkers (Hong Kong, China)

Offshore law firm Walkers has added Tom Pugh as a partner in Hong Kong from Mayer Brown.

Having spent nearly 15 years in Hong Kong, Pugh handles large-scale cross-border liquidations and restructuring matters, and advises insolvency practitioners, creditors and debtors. (from http://www.legalbusinessonline.com)

2 Sep – Oon & Bazul (Singapore, Singapore)

Singapore’s Oon & Bazul has hired Benedict Eoon as a partner. He was most recently an associate director at local boutique Covenant Chambers.

Eoon focuses on commercial litigation, arbitration, white-collar crime and investigations. Before moving to Covenant, he was an associate director at Singapore Big Four law firm Drew & Napier. (from http://www.legalbusinessonline.com)

2 Sep – Ogier (Singapore, Singapore)

Offshore law firm Ogier’s corporate administration business, Ogier Global, is set to open a Singapore office with the appointment Mei Luo and Connie Chan as associate directors.

Luo and Chan have a combined 35 years of experience supporting asset managers, institutional clients and corporates with their governance, corporate administration and regulatory, and compliance needs. (from http://www.legalbusinessonline.com)

2 Sep – Dentons Rodyk & Davidson (Mumbai, India)

Singapore’s Dentons Rodyk & Davidson has hired Ipshita Chaturvedi as partner in the firm’s environment and natural resources practice. She was most recently running her own practice, C&C Advisors, in India.

With more than 10 years of experience, Chaturvedi advises on environmental compliance and regulation, clean-technology, waste management and EPR related matters, carbon finance, water law and ocean governance. (from http://www.legalbusinessonline.com)

1 Sep – Clyde & Co (Brisbane, Australia)

Clyde & Co hires Brisbane insurance partner to continue Australian and Global expansion. Global law firm Clyde & Co has today announced the hire of Partner David Kerwin, who joins the firm’s national insurance group, based in Brisbane.

David brings immense expertise in handling complex (and often novel) matters involving property risks, financial lines, D&O liability, professional indemnity, policy coverage and defence health/life insurance lines. He is an experienced litigator and widely recognised for his technical skills, commerciality and practical approach. (from http://www.clydeco.com)

1 Sep – King & Wood Mallesons (Singapore, Singapore)

A private capital-focused partner with 12 years’ experience at Herbert Smith Freehills has joined King & Wood Mallesons in Singapore. Nicola Yeomans was most recently a partner and head of Asia private capital at Herbert Smith Freehills. She has now joined King & Wood Mallesons, enhancing its international and regional offerings. In her most recent position, Yeomans specialised in private equity and asset management across Asia. She advised clients on mergers and acquisitions (M&A), sales, joint ventures, fundraisings and real asset projects. (from ICLG.com)

August 2021

26 Aug – Bae, Kim & Lee (Singapore, Singapore)

Bae, Kim & Lee (BKL), Korea’s third-largest law firm, is all set to establish an office in Singapore. The office will be led by Eric Yang, partner and head of the firm’s Southeast Asia practice. When the office opens, it will make BKL the latest foreign firm to establish an outpost in Singapore in 2021, following India’s Khaitan & Co, PRC firm AllBright Law Offices, and U.S. law firms McDermott Will & Emery and Orrick. (from http://www.legalbusinessonline.com)

26 Aug – Baker McKenzie (Melbourne, Australia)

Baker McKenzie has appointed Matt Coleman as a construction partner in Melbourne. Matt joins Baker McKenzie from MinterEllison. Matt is experienced in project management, project structuring, procurement and delivery strategy, risk analysis, and drafting and negotiating all forms of infrastructure and construction related agreements, with specialist experience in public-private partnerships and collaborative contracting models. (from http://www.bakermckenzie.com)

26 Aug – Khaitan & Co. (Singapore, Singapore)

Khaitan & Co. has hired Karun Cariappa, a former partner and head of the India practice at Morgan Lewis Stamford, as a partner in its newly opened Singapore office. Cariappa’s most recent role was as founder of Fernback Holdings, which provided transactional support to corporates, founders, start-ups, funds and family offices. He more than two decades of experience advising corporate issuers and investment banks, and focuses on capital markets and transactional work. Cariappa was at Morgan Lewis for about a year, having joined the firm from Simmons & Simmons. His previous firms include Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft, Jones Day and the legacy Amarchand Mangaldas.  (from http://www.legalbusinessonline.com)

25 Aug – Garuda (Jakarta, Indonesia)

Timur Sukirno, formerly senior partner and head of disputes at Baker McKenzie’s Indonesian member firm, Hadiputranto, Hadinoto & Partners (HHP), has retired from the firm to join troubled flag carrier Garuda Indonesia as president commissioner. Sukirno, who is the founder of the Indonesian Receivers and Administrators Association, has expertise in insolvency and restructuring processes. He spent more than three decades at HHP. (from http://www.legalbusinessonline.com)

19 Aug – Latham & Watkins (Singapore, Singapore)

Both Bhasin and Clayton-Payne join from Shearman & Sterling. They advise clients in the energy and infrastructure sector on inbound and outbound transactions, joint ventures, take-overs, strategic investments, restructurings, divestments and private equity exits.

Both Bhasin and Clayton-Payne join from Shearman & Sterling. They advise clients in the energy and infrastructure sector on inbound and outbound transactions, joint ventures, take-overs, strategic investments, restructurings, divestments and private equity exits.

Meanwhile, Stokes, who spent more than two decades at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, will focus on project development and finance. (from http://www.legalbusinessonline.com)

18 Aug – Hill Dickinson (Singapore, Singapore)

UK-headquartered maritime firm Hill Dickinson has hired trade and commodities specialists Devottam Sengupta and Iain Sharp as partners in Singapore. Both join from in-house roles.

Dev Sengupta is a member of the Bar Council of Maharashtra and Goa (India) 2006 and joins Hill Dickinson from Greensill Capital in Singapore. He has significant experience in providing structuring and legal support through the entire transaction lifecycle and has led on a range of multimillion dollar banking, trade finance and structured finance transactions. He was previously Co-Head of the Global Markets and Financing Legal Team at Louis Dreyfus Company, and is also an expert in Indian law.

Meanwhile, Sharp moves from commodities trading house Gunvor Group, where he was head of legal for Asia-Pacific. He focuses on litigation, international arbitration, negotiation, and ADR related to international trade and commodities.(from http://www.legalbusinessonline.com)

17 Aug – Tiang & Partners (Hong Kong, China)

Tiang & Partners, a Hong Kong firm that works closely with PwC’s global legal network, has hired Chiang Ling Li as head of its IP practice from Jones Day, where she worked for over 13 years. (from http://www.legalbusinessonline.com)

17 Aug – Conyers (Hong Kong, China)

Offshore law firm Conyers has hired veteran disputes lawyer Mark Yeadon as its head of Hong Kong disputes and restructuring practice from Eversheds Sutherland, where he led the Asia litigation and dispute management practice.

Prior to joining Eversheds, Yeadon spent 22 years at Slaughter and May, leaving that firm in 2010 as the head of its litigation practice in Hong Kong. (from http://www.legalbusinessonline.com)

17 Aug – Withers (Hong Kong, China)

Joseph Chu has left Simmons & Simmons, where he was partner, to join Withers in Hong Kong. Chu has over 20 years’ experience acting on cross-border commercial litigation and international arbitration matters. (from http://www.law.com)

17 Aug – Pinsent Masons (Singapore, Singapore)

Will Stroll joins Pinsent Masons from Herbert Smith Freehills, where he was senior associate. Stroll specializes in Southeast Asia renewable energy transactions, advising investment funds, independent power producers and oil & gas companies on the corporate and commercial, and regulatory matters. (from http://www.law.com)

16 Aug – Ashurst (Sydney, Australia)

The global law firm has grown its financial regulation practice with the appointment of a new Sydney-based partner. Hong-Viet Nguyen has taken to Ashurst’s partnership, joining from HWL Ebsworth Lawyers, where she has been a partner since 2017.  (from http://www.lawyersweekly.com.au)

12 Aug – Clayton Utz (Melbourne, Australia)

Melbourne-based Angela Wood has joined Clayton Utz as a partner within the firm’s national taxation practice. She joins from KPMG Law, where she was the national lead partner and ASPAC regional lead partner for tax controversy.

Bringing with her over 20 years’ experience in specialist tax controversy work, Ms Wood has advised across numerous matters, including complex tax disputes on behalf of multinationals, ASX-listed corporates, private equity funds and private groups. (from http://www.lawyersweekly.com.au)

9 Aug – Hall & Wilcox (Perth, Australia)

Hall & Wilcox has expanded its national commercial disputes expertise with the new addition of a construction and projects disputes partner in its Perth office.

Penny Ford has joined the international firm from Norton Rose Fulbright and brings a breadth of construction and litigation experience, having worked in the Australian legal industry for over two decades. (from http://www.lawyersweekly.com.au)

5 Aug – Oentoeng Suria & Partners (Jakarta, Indonesia)

Oentoeng Suria & Partners (OSP), Ashurst’s associate firm in Indonesia, has hired Dion Alfadya as a partner in Jakarta from Ginting & Reksodiputro, which operates in association with Allen & Overy.

Alfadya, who was a counsel at A&O, specialises in M&A, joint ventures, fundraisings, strategic collaborations and investments, private equity and venture capital transactions. With experience of more than 15 years, he focuses on the Indonesian and broader Southeast Asian markets. (from http://www.legalbusinessonline.com)

5 Aug – HSA Advocates (Mumbai, India)

India’s HSA Advocates has hired Vishal Lohire as a partner from Lakshmikumaran & Sridharan (L&S), where he was a joint partner leading the firm’s Mumbai commercial dispute resolution team.

Lohire, who has been in the legal industry for nearly 15 years, joins after HSA’s second partner hire in Mumbai in a month: projects expert Ravi Jain recently joined from Economic Laws Practice (ELP). (from http://www.legalbusinessonline.com)

5 Aug – Samvad Partners (Mumbai, India)

India’s Samvad Partners has hired corporate lawyer Jeeta Nayak as a partner in Mumbai from Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas, where she was a director.

Nayak’s addition is Samvad’s first partner hire since it brought disputes expert Savani Gupte on board from Khaitan & Co in March.  (from asia.legalbusinessonline.com)

4 Aug – L&L Partners (Bangalore & Delhi, India)

India’s L&L Partners has hired Abhishek Kumar (L) and Vasudev Dibbur as the firm’s newest partners. They join the Bengaluru and Delhi offices, respectively.

L&L Partners has seen a number of departures during the year-long public feud between the firm’s managing partner Rajiv Luthra and former equity partner Mohit Saraf.

This is Dibbur’s second stint with the firm, his first being an 11-year-long one that ended last year.. He specialises in cross-border M&A, joint ventures, private equity and venture capital fund investments.

Meanwhile, Kumar joins the litigation practice. With more than 15 years of experience, he was previously at Singhania & Partners. (from http://www.legalbusinessonline.com)

4 Aug – White & Case (Hong Kong, China)

U.S. firm White & Case has added capital markets specialist Margie Chan as a partner in Hong Kong from Norton Rose Fullbright (NRF).

Chan’s arrival comes about two months after White & Case lost senior lawyers to NRF in Hong Kong: PE/M&A partner Peggy Wang and counsel Victor Sim, who focuses on leveraged, structured and real estate finance.

Chan, who started her career at Herbert Smith Freehills in 2000, focuses on debt offerings, private placement issuances and liability management transactions. (from http://www.legalbusinessonline.com)

4 Aug – Withers (Singapore, Singapore)

We are pleased to welcome banking and finance partner Guan Feng Chen to our Singapore office. Guan Feng has more than 25 years of experience advising on high-profile and groundbreaking finance transactions across South East Asia, particularly in Indonesia, and a growing number of fintech-related deals. He is joined by Bi Qing C. (from http://www.linkedin.com)

3 Aug – Harneys (Hong Kong, China)

Harneys is pleased to announce that Yucheng Fan has joined the firm as a partner in the Investment Funds practice based in the Hong Kong office.

Yucheng Fan joins Harneys from another offshore law firm in Hong Kong and specialises in Cayman Islands and British Virgin Islands fund matters, advising on the structure, formation, launch and maintenance of private equity funds, venture capital funds, corporate venture capital funds, hedge funds and unit trusts. He is fluent in four languages and a native Japanese and Mandarin speaker, and is one of the only offshore lawyers with a Japanese attorney qualification (Bengoshi), practising Cayman Islands and British Virgin Islands law. (from http://www.harneys.com)

3 Aug – White & Case (Sydney, Australia)

Global law firm White & Case LLP has expanded its Global Project Development and Finance Practice with the addition of partners Chris Flynn and Tim Kennedy in Sydney.

Flynn advises domestic and international companies and governments on energy and resources transactions and projects, particularly in the upstream, LNG and power sectors, and on public international law and energy security matters. He has experience across Australia, as well as in the Asia-Pacific region and globally. Flynn joins White & Case from Gilbert + Tobin, where he was a partner, head of their energy and resources group and a member of the firm’s board.

“Chris has extensive experience advising on oil & gas opportunities and renewable energy projects, particularly LNG, offshore wind and renewables-based hydrogen,” said White & Case partner Andrew Clark, Regional Section Head Asia-Pacific EIPAF & Disputes. “Tim is a high calibre partner with experience advising on market leading energy transition projects. Together, the partners will add material depth to our energy and power capabilities in Australia and more broadly across Asia-Pacific as we continue to grow our offering for clients in these sectors.”  (from http://www.whitecase.com

2 Aug – Gowling WLG (Beijing, China)

Anglo-Canadian firm Gowling WLG has expanded its Asia footprint with the addition of Clyde & Co’s China IP head, Elliot Papageorgiou.

Papageorgiou advises on both contentious and non-contentious IP matters, and on strategies to optimize IP portfolios. He joined Clyde & Co in 2017 from IP specialist firm Rouse, where he had been a partner for 13 years and left when he was head of patent litigation. He joined Rouse’s London office in 1999 and moved to China as partner five years later. He had previously practiced with Australian firm Clayton Utz, and also spent time in-house with Getty Images. (from http://www.law.com)

2 Aug – Fangda Partners (Beijing, China)

Fangda is delighted to announce that leading lawyer Zhao Yan has joined the firm’s Beijing office as a partner to launch our tax practice. Mr. Zhao has over two decades’ experience in advising clients on a broad spectrum of tax-related areas, from tax advisory on M&A deals, international/non-resident tax, tax planning for high-net wealth families and individuals to contentious/regulatory tax work such as advising clients on general tax audits, special investigations, and transfer pricing investigations, among other matters, initiated by tax authorities. He has been listed as a recommended lawyer in the field of PRC tax law by The Legal 500 as well as other prominent legal directories for consecutive years.

Prior to joining Fangda, Mr. Zhao was previously a partner of another leading PRC law firm, and had worked with three of the “Big Four” accounting firms. He is a qualified PRC lawyer as well as a Certified Tax Agent of the PRC. (from http://www.fangdalaw.com)

2 Aug – Latham & Watkins (Seoul, Korea)

Richard Lee’s arrival in Latham & Watkins’ Seoul-based capital markets division follows the recent exit of Adrian Chiodo who to join Paul Hastings in London. Lee has moved to Latham & Watkins from Clifford Chance where he was a partner in Hong Kong for a decade. He is an experienced adviser to Asian and international issuers on an array of securities matters such as debt and equity offerings, with abilities to advise on the entire life cycle of such financings. He is also well-versed in high-yield bond matters.  (from http://www.iclg.com)

2 Aug – Norton Rose Fulbright (Singapore, Singapore)

Ashurst partner Andrew Digges has left the firm to join Norton Rose Fulbright in Singapore.

Digges will join Norton Rose Fulbright’s infrastructure, mining and commodities practice, led by global head Nick Merritt, who is also based in Singapore. (from http://www.law.com)

July 2021

29 Jul – The Fort Circle (Mumbai, India)

Priyanka Desai and Jaideep Singh Khattar, formerly principal associates at Khaitan & Co, have established a boutique firm called The Fort Circle in Mumbai.

The firm specialises in dispute resolution, arbitration, white collar crime, real estate litigation, private client practice and corporate advisory.

Desai has also previously worked with K Ashar & Co, while Khattar’s earlier firms include Legasis Partners and Desai & Diwanji. (from http://www.legalbusinessonline.com)

28 Jul – Holding Redlich (Sydney, Australia)

Partner Chris Kinsella, who joins the firm’s Sydney base, has over three decades of experience in tax disputes. (from http://www.law.com)

26 Jul – White & Case (Melbourne, Australia)

Global law firm White & Case LLP has expanded its Global International Arbitration Practice with the addition of Lee Carroll as a partner in Melbourne. (from http://www.whitecase.com)

26 Jul – Allens (Melbourne, Australia)

Allens has appointed Louis Chiam as a Partner in the firm’s Projects and Development practice in Melbourne. Louis has deep experience in energy, regulation, climate change and major projects and joins Allens from KWM where he was partner. (from http://www.allens.com.au)

26 Jul – Kirkland & Ellis (Hong Kong, China)

Kirkland & Ellis is pleased to announce that Paul Guan, a top private equity real estate lawyer, has joined the Firm as a partner in Hong Kong. He will lead the Firm’s private equity real estate practice in Asia. (from http://www.kirkland.com

26 Jul – Sparke Helmore (Canberra, Australia)

Australian law firm Sparke Helmore has hired a partner from one of Australia’s Big Six firms to join its government practice. Alexandra Wedutenko joins Sparke Helmore’s Canberra-based government team from Clayton Utz, one of the largest law firms in the country with 167 partners. (from http://www.law.com)

26 Jul – K&L Gates (Tokyo, Japan)

Global law firm K&L Gates LLP has further strengthened its intellectual property practice with the addition of partner Mitsuhiro Imamura and his team of paralegals in the firm’s Tokyo office. Imamura and his team join K&L Gates from DLA Piper, and are a key addition to the firm’s global intellectual property practice, giving K&L Gates, for the first time, the ability to file Japanese patent and trademark applications, among other capabilities. (from http://www.klgates.com)

21 Jul – Hogan Lovells (Singapore, Singapore)

Hogan Lovells has hired capital markets partner Biswajit Chatterjee into its Corporate & Finance practice in Singapore.

Chatterjee joins Hogan Lovells from Squire Patton Boggs, where he currently serves as Co-Chair of the firm’s India practice and heads the South East Asia corporate practice. New York and India qualified, his focus is on capital markets, M&A and private equity transactions. He has advised on some of the largest equity and debt offerings in India and South East Asia. (from http://www.hoganlovells.com)

21 Jul – Han Yi Law Offices (Shanghai, China)

Shanghai-headquartered boutique firm Han Yi Law Offices has hired Chen Liang as partner from Commerce & Finance Law Offices. Chen, who also has working experiences with Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, Haiwen & Partners, and a Nasdaq-listed Chinese TMT company as its chief compliance officer and general counsel, will continue her practice in both Shanghai and Beijing. (from china.legalbusinessonline.com)

21 Jul – Hylands Law Firm (Beijing, China)

Hylands Law Firm has hired Li Yanlong, an expert in corporate compliance, as a partner in its Beijing headquarter from Real Long Law Firm, where Li was a partner.

Li’s practice covers corporate compliance, healthcare, and capital markets. With experience in the research of corporate legal risks management, he has advised a number of listed companies and large state-owned enterprises, involving fields like healthcare, real estate, construction, human resources, finance lease, insurance, and investment in funds. (from china.legalbusinessonline.com)

20 Jul – Ashurst (Singapore, Singapore)

Ashurst has hired a new partner, Robert Child, for its restructuring, insolvency and special situations practice in Singapore. Child joins Ashurst from Clifford Chance, where he was most recently Singapore-based counsel. (from http://www.law.com)

19 Jul – Ashurst (Sydney, Australia)

Global law firm Ashurst has appointed Emma de Carle as a partner in its Global Loans practice in Sydney. Emma joins from PwC, where she has been a partner since 2018. Emma is a specialist in leveraged and acquisition finance, corporate finance and asset based lending with an extensive network of longstanding relationships across private equity sponsors, corporates, domestic and international investment banks and credit funds. (from http://www.ashurst.com)

19 Jul – Stephenson Harwood (Singapore, Singapore)

Stephenson Harwood has hired a new partner for its Singapore office. Christopher Bailey joins the firm from King & Spalding, where he was a partner in Tokyo. (from http://www.law.com)

16 Jul – Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman (Tokyo, Japan)

Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman has recruited a corporate partner in Tokyo focusing on mergers and acquisitions amid rising deal activity.

Jeff Schrepfer joins from Morrison & Foerster where he was a Tokyo partner representing Japanese companies on outbound deals. In 2020, he advised Fujifilm Holdings Corp. on a $2.3 billion acquisition of a remaining 25% stake in its joint venture with Xerox Corp. He’s also acted for Japanese businesses including Nissan Motor, Tokyo Gas and Taisho Pharmaceutical on foreign acquisitions and operations. (from http://www.law.com)

15 Jul – Merits & Tree (Shanghai, China)

Merits & Tree has hired data compliance expert Chen Wenhao as a partner in its Shanghai office from AllBright Law Offices, where he was a partner. Chen had also practiced at King & Wood Mallesons, Kirkland & Ellis and Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe.

Chen’s practice areas include data compliance, anti-bribe, corporate investigation, government regulation and dispute resolution. He has advised various companies in industries including Internet, high technology, retail, medical equipment, and automobile manufacturing. (from china.legalbusinessonline.com

14 Jul – K&L Gates (Tokyo, Japan)

The Tokyo office of K&L Gates has hired a team of intellectual lawyers from DLA Piper, including partner Mitsuhiro Imamura.

Imamura focuses on patent filings and patent disputes in both national and international transactions, as well as deals with trademark filings, trademark portfolio management, trademark disputes and negotiations, and opposition and invalidity proceedings. (from au.legalbusinessonline.com)

14 Jul – FTI Consulting (Singapore, Singapore)

Forensic investigations expert Rachel Layburn has joined advisory firm FTI Consulting as a senior managing director in Singapore from WPP, where she was the group head of compliance for APAC.

Layburn has more than 20 years of experience in China and Singapore. At FTI, she will work closely with practices such as data & analytics, export controls and financial crime compliance. (from http://www.legalbusinessonline.com)

13 Jul – Broad & Bright (Shanghai, China)

Broad & Bright has hired Yang Ying, an expert in cross-border M&A, in its Shanghai office from Xin Bai Law Firm, where she was a partner.

Yang’s practice areas include cross-border M&A, corporate governance and compliance, and commercial dispute resolution. She has advised a number of multinational enterprises and financial institutes. Yang had also been one of the founding members of Broad & Bright’s Shanghai office. (from china.legalbusinessonline.com)

13 Jul – Han Kun Law Offices (Shanghai, China)

Han Kun Law Offices has hired cross-border M&A expert Nick Shu as a partner in its Shanghai office. Prior to joining Han Kun, Shu served as the director of corporate development of a US-listed Chinse e-commerce group. He had also practiced in White & Case LLP, and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom.

Shu’s practice areas include cross-border M&A, private equity and venture capital investment, capital markets, foreign direct investment, and other general corporate matters. He has represented various private equity firms, venture capital funds, strategic investors, portfolio companies, and multinational companies in connection with their cross-border M&A and diverse types of cross-border investments and financing. (from china.legalbusinessonline.com)

13 Jul – Anli Partners  (Beijing, China)

Anli Partners has hired Li Ying, an expert in cross-border M&A, as a partner in its Beijing office.

Li’s practice areas include cross-border M&A, private equity, and investment and finance. He has advised a number of domestic and multinational enterprises on deals with complex structures. (from china.legalbusinessonline.com)

13 Jul – Norton Rose Fulbright (Melbourne, Australia)

Global law firm Norton Rose Fulbright has hired a partner who specializes in environmental and town planning law for its Melbourne office.

Nick Sutton, who focuses on major projects, joins NRF from local law firm Planning & Property Partners, where he worked for more than a decade. (from http://www.law.com)

12 Jul – Holman Fenwick Willan (Sydney, Australia)

U.K.-headquartered law firm Holman Fenwick Willan is expanding its Australia dispute resolution and construction practices with the hire of partner Jo Delaney in Sydney.

Delaney, who joins from Baker McKenzie, has more than 20 years’ experience of international arbitration in the construction, energy and infrastructure sectors, HFW said. (from http://www.law.com)

12 Jul – Mayer Brown (Hong Kong, China)

Mayer Brown announced today that four leading capital markets partners, Guiping Lu, Philip Hyde, Bonnie Yung and Jason Wang, have joined the firm’s Corporate & Securities practice in Hong Kong, along with four lawyers.

The prominent debt capital markets team led by Mr. Lu and Mr. Hyde join from K&L Gates, while the high-profile equity capital markets duo of Ms. Yung and Mr. Wang were both previously at Paul Hastings and join from LC Lawyers LLP, the Hong Kong law firm member of the EY global network.

Their arrival further bolsters Mayer Brown’s award winning capital markets team in Hong Kong, as the firm continues to grow a prominent and globally integrated capital markets product offering in the key financial centers of New York, London and Hong Kong. (from http://www.mayerbrown.com)

11 Jul – Jia Yuan Law Offices (Hong Kong, China)

Jia Yuan Law Offices has hired capital market lawyer Benjamin Wang as a partner in its Hong Kong branch from Zhong Lun Law Firm, where Wang was a counsel. He had also practiced at the Hong Kong offices of Morrison & Foerster and Davis Polk & Wardwell.

Wang’s practice focuses on IPO, listing, capital finance, M&A, and private equity. He has advised a number of enterprises and financial institutes on IPO, issuance of bonds, allotment, M&A, and private equity investment. (from china.legalbusinessonline.com)

11 Jul – Hylands Law Firm (Beijing, China)

Hylands Law Firm has hired dispute resolution and litigation experts Lv Chunjie and Ma Zhankun as partners in its Beijing headquarter.

Lv’s practice focuses on dispute resolution, litigation, family wealth management and inheritance, and criminal compliance. He has dealt with over 100 commercial and criminal litigation cases. Prior to joining Hylands, Lv was a lawyer at Yuanhe Partners.

Ma’s practice focuses on dispute resolution, litigation, M&A, banking and finance. He has advised a number of central enterprises, state-owned enterprises and private companies on litigation, arbitration, asset management, corporate compliance, and M&A. Ma has ten years’ work experience in court trial. (from china.legalbusinessonline.com)

8 Jul – Chance Bridge (Shenzhen, China)

Chance Bridge has hired financial markets expert Li Ningzi as a partner in its Shenzhen office from Guangdong Shigang Law Firm, where he was a partner.

Li’s practice focuses on financial markets and dispute resolution. He has participated in a few large projects in capital markets and securities. Li had also worked in a securities company and a technology company where he was in charge of corporate compliance and risks control, and investment and M&A projects.  (from china.legalbusinessonline.com)

8 Jul – J Sagar Associates (Gurugram, India)

The duo join JSA only days after the firm roped in Ipsita Chowdhury as a partner in Gurugram from Trilegal.

Anand, who joins JSA’s Gurugram office, has 15 years of experience focusing on handling various financing transactions involving Indian and foreign banks and financial institutions. Prior to joining Juris Corp, he worked at Khaitan & Co.

Meanwhile, Kumar rejoins JSA’s Mumbai office, where he initially worked from 2012 to 2017. His practice includes domestic and cross border corporate lending, trade finance transactions and securitisation transactions. (from http://www.legalbusinessonline.com)

6 Jul – Ashurst (Hong Kong, China)

CMS has bolstered its international practices with a series of partner hires across Mexico, Colombia and Hong Kong. The firm has added Ashurst finance partner Christopher Whiteley, who will establish a capital markets and derivatives practice for the Hong Kong practice. (from http://www.law.com)

6 Jul – Jingtian & Gongcheng (Hong Kong, China)

China’s Jingtian & Gongcheng has added a capital markets partner in Hong Kong. Wei Liu joins from DLA Piper where he had been a partner since 2006. Liu has advised some of the earliest Chinese listings in Hong Kong, especially those of state-owned enterprises, having participating in the drafting of policies in the 1990s that allowed Chinese companies to list on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. In 2018, he advised China Maple Leaf Educational Systems, an international school operator, on a $127 million share placement in Hong Kong. (from http://www.law.com)

6 Jul – J Sagar Associates (Gurugram, India)

India’s J Sagar Associates (JSA) has added M&A lawyer Ipsita Chowdhury as a partner in its Gurugram office from Trilegal. Chowdhury, who spent more than a decade at Trilegal, specialises in M&A, corporate advisory and compliance. (from http://www.legalbusinessonline.com)

6 Jul – HSA Advocates (Mumbai, India)

Indian law firm HSA Advocates has hired projects and energy specialist Ravi Jain as a partner in Mumbai from Economic Laws Practice (ELP).

Jain’s hire comes shortly after HSA added a team of projects and infrastructure lawyers in Delhi from Advaita Legal, including partners, Shailendra Kumar Singh, Alok Shankar and Monali Dutta.

Jain, who has been in the legal industry for over 15 years, represents clients on M&A matters as well as contractual, transactional, regulatory and financing aspects of deals. He worked with law firms AZB & Partners and Khaitan & Co prior to joining ELP. (from http://www.legalbusinessonline.com)

6 Jul – Simmons & Simmons (Singapore, Singapore)

Simmons & Simmons has hired financial markets expert Sonia Lim as a partner in Singapore from Linklaters, where she was a counsel.

Lim, who has 25 years of experience, focuses on regulatory reforms with an emphasis on legal and regulatory issues relating to OTC derivatives and other financial markets products and services. Prior to joining Linklaters in 2017, Lim worked in-house with JP Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, and Citi, as well as with law firm Allen & Overy. (from http://www.legalbusinessonline.com)

6 Jul – L&L Partners (Mumbai, India)

India’s L&L Partners has welcomed back insolvency expert Piyush Mishra as a partner in Mumbai from AZB & Partners.

Mishra’s hire comes shortly after L&L lost insolvency specialist Avinash Subramanian to AZB, the latest in a series of partner exits from the firm. Mishra also marks the fourth time a partner has rejoined L&L since November last year, following the returns of Asim Abbas, Sonali Choudhry and Prabjot Singh Bhullar.(from http://www.legalbusinessonline.com)

5 Jul – King & Wood Mallesons (Hong Kong, China)

King & Wood Mallesons (KWM) is delighted to announce the strategic expansion of the firm’s equity capital markets (ECM) practice with the addition of Corey Zhang to the Hong Kong partnership. 

Corey joins the Hong Kong office on 5 July 2021. Corey joins from the Hong Kong office of a leading international firm with a strong capital markets focus. He has over a decade of experience advising issuers and underwriters on a range of equity and debt capital markets transactions, including Hong Kong IPOs, London global depositary receipt offerings, and Rule 144A and Regulation S debt offerings, as well as general securities and compliance matters. (from http://www.kwm.com)

5 Jul – Baker McKenzie (Hong Kong, China)

As Baker McKenzie expands Hong Kong transactions capabilities, Victoria Lloyd joins from Ropes & Gray where she had been a partner in Hong Kong where she advised banks and multinational investors. (from http://www.law.com)

2 Jul – Tian Yuan Law Firm (Beijing, China)

Tian Yuan Law Firm has been granted with qualification to launch intellectual property commissioning services, with an IP lawyer Chi Song joining as a partner, who brings a team of nearly ten.

Chi was a partner at Zhihong Intellectual Property Rights prior to joining Tian Yuan. He has experience in import and export business of energy companies, technology R&D and import of high-tech companies, as well as corporate IP management. His team joining Tian Yuan includes patent agents, foreign patent engineers, trademark agents, trademark process managers and attorneys. (from china.legalbusinessonline.com)

1 Jul – Norton Rose Fulbright (Australia)

Global law firm Norton Rose Fulbright announced today that Chris Owen has joined as the firm’s first dedicated pro bono partner in Australia. (from http://www.nortonrosefulbright.com)

1 Jul – Corrs Chambers Westgarth (Sydney, Australia)

Australia’s leading independent law firm, Corrs Chambers Westgarth, today welcomes six new partners to the firm. The team comprises four corporate partners and two banking and finance partners, based in Sydney. Leading private equity specialists Ricky Casali, Glen Sauer, Chris Allen and Andrew Hewson are joining Corrs’ corporate group, with respected financing partners Stewart Robertson and John Mosley joining the firm’s banking and finance practice. (from  www.corrs.com.au)

1 Jul – Rimon (Seoul, Korea)

Rimon is pleased to announce it has opened an office in Seoul, South Korea with, Jungwoo Chang joining the firm as corporate partner. Rimon’s Seoul office is its 42nd location, following the opening of new offices in international hubs London, Paris and Montréal earlier this year, as well as several new offices in the United States. (from https://rimonlaw.com)

Legal markets improve, but the shadow of Covid-19 lingers

New and more contagious Covid-19 variants continue to penetrate the world’s major economies, but overall the Asia Pacific legal market continues to grow. We have seen a good level of hiring activity in the first quarter, particularly in January.

The massive disruptions of 2020 uncovered both challenges and opportunities for all legal practitioners. It is clear that some areas of the legal practice have suffered, but a few practices continue to grow. Law firms with highly regarded employment, corporate, and environmental sustainability practices are experiencing an increase in business as a result of uncertainties stemming from the pandemic.

Our half-year review provides an overview of the key appointments in Asia Pacific:



  • Of countries in the region showing success in suppressing the Covid-19 pandemic, we see 39% growth in key appointments in 2021 compared to 2020.
  • The APAC lateral market was very active in the first quarter of 2021. January also saw the highest number of key appointments. We see a drop-off in May.


  • Both India and Australia saw twice the number of key appointments compared to 2020. India also shares Hong Kong as the third busiest in terms of high-end key appointments.
  • Australia led the hiring spree with 58 significant hires in Q1 & Q2, followed by China (49) and India (46) & Hong Kong (46).
  • India observed a decreasing tendency in key appointments since March, possibly due to a worsening situation.


  • Corporate/M&A/Capital Markets practices dominated the key hires in the first quarter of 2021.
  • Corporate/M&A/Capital Markets, Projects/Construction/Infrastructure, and Employment & Workplace practices observed significant growth compared to 2020.
  • Corporate/M&A/Capital Markets practices dominated the key hires in the first quarter of 2021.
  • Corporate/M&A/Capital Markets, Projects/Construction/Infrastructure, and Employment & Workplace practices observed significant growth compared to 2020.
  • Despite a drop in Litigation/Dispute Resolution/Arbitration/Investigations practices, hiring in those areas remains popular.


Leaders in Law: Interview with Yang Guang

It is rare for high-profile lawyers to rise to a senior non-legal position of their organization. Yang Guang is one of the few hybrid lawyer-CEOs, Vice President & General Counsel of Johnson Controls Asia Pacific, and formerly President-Asia Pacific at Westport Fuel Systems, General Counsel at TRW Automotive, and Vice President & General Counsel at Siemens Healthcare. Interestingly, he works in highly regulated industries (industrial manufacturing and healthcare/ pharmaceutical), where understanding and navigating complex regulatory landscapes are particularly valuable attributes. In this interview, Sherry talks with Yang Guang about the secrets of his success in both the legal and senior executive roles and his suggestions for lawyers seeking to break into the top legal and management brackets.

Sherry:Sherry Xu (Hughes-Castell, Director)

YG:Yang Guang (Johnson Controls, VP & General Counsel, Asia Pacific)

Yang Guang received a graduate degree from the University of International Business & Economics in China, a Juris Doctor degree from St. Thomas University School of Law, and a graduate degree from New York University School of Law. After graduating, he decided to stay in the US and commence his career as an associate in the tax team of a leading law firm in New York.

China’s World Trade Organization (WTO) accession in 2001 boosted China’s domestic economy and improved its trading environment, leading to an increased foreign investment influx. The continued prosperity created a huge surge in career opportunities which persuaded Yang Guang to return to China where he took an offer from China International Capital Corporation, which was a half-legal and half-i-banking role. From there, he began his in-house legal journey.

On China Shenhua Energy’s IPO project, Yang Guang closely worked with the research team, and the field visits ignited his interest in the industrial sector. It so happened that a Hughes-Castell Senior Consultant was searching at that time for a Group Lead Counsel for Siemens Group, with a focus on Siemens Financial Services (SFS) and Siemens Financial Leasing Limited (SFLL), and headhunted Yang Guang because of his strong financial background. This opportunity determined his destiny in industrial manufacturing, while also paving his path to success.

What does Legal do? – Contract Review and Negotiation 

Sherry: We’ve known each other for a long time, though you’ve worked for several corporations, I remember whenever we’ve talked about your career, you always shared your experience with Siemens. I remember you said you had grown significantly in your days there, and your subsequent career development was also successfully built on the foundations of your Siemens experience. Could you share more about that? 

YG: If I was to share only one career highlight, I would say it’s the High-Speed Railway (CRH) projects I participated in when I was with Siemens. Others would be the development opportunities I got outside the China region with Siemens Group, including managing the legal affairs of Siemens West Asia regions such as Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq. And specifically, later, I was relocated to Singapore and served as the Asia-Pacific General Counsel for Siemens Medical Diagnostics sector.

I believe that if you are an in-house counsel for an industrial business, you really should go for any opportunity to participate in large-scale projects and be a project leader if possible. It will give you a lot of exposure to real business operations, and you will find satisfaction in the business negotiation processes in the meantime. A megaproject team usually consists of several groups: some members are responsible for the supply chain; some are working on technology transfer; some are in charge of delivery and transportation; some will look after inspection and acceptance; and some are accountable for payment. If you are a project manager, you will actively participate throughout the process and help coordinate staff and internal resources. When you lead a project from beginning to end, you will have a deeper understanding of production, operation, finance, logistics, and the business as a whole by the time the project is completed.

The in-house legal functions constantly struggle to prove their value to business units, as they would always think lawyers do not understand business as well as they do. And in-house legal teams, many of them feel insecure about being a business barrier that they never are able to walk tall while arguing with aggressive sales teams. In fact, it should be the other way around if you are a business-savvy lawyer. Business teams, specifically the sales team, who are the most important revenue driver for 2B businesses, are only talking about the “sales-related” part of the entire business. Only a truly legal person can understand the whole business operation. When we have a comprehensive and in-depth knowledge of the business, we can confidently tell the business team that, “we understand how the business works as a whole (not just partially) – what benefits the company, how we make money, how the business teams’ bonus is tied to the contract execution results, which is, in turn, dependent on how a contract is drafted after negotiation”.

When I joined the project negotiations, I would ask questions boldly if I had doubts about anything in the project. Thanks to these railway project experiences, I not only gained a more comprehensive and in-depth knowledge of our transportation business but also improved my negotiation skills. Additionally, I have also developed a profound knowledge of China’s landscape, China Railway High-Speed lines, and every single train component. So, if you ask me about the first spark of my career, I will say the negotiations of the China Railway High-Speed project for Siemens, for sure. The success of its negotiations is still the primary source of Siemens’ stable profits in China.

The experience I accumulated in these projects’ negotiations can be applied everywhere, and it has benefited me throughout my career. If you ask me to summarize the key value of the legal function to a corporate, I would say contract review. I have worked in different industries and roles and found that contract review is still fundamental to my legal-oriented responsibilities. The main difference for me is, a deep understanding of business operation can enhance the impacts of contract review. Let me share with you a story:

In Siemens, an information visiting program for lawyers is open for all in-house legal counsel to visit their designated country’s legal department. There was a Swiss lawyer who came to China for an information gathering visit. He was a typical type of visiting fellow who enjoyed his visiting time’s work/life balance.

At first, we didn’t think of him as a talented lawyer, judging from typical Chinese standards. However, he was the one who saved us in the negotiations with China’s Ministry of Railways and taught us a great lesson. During the negotiations, the Ministry of Railways clung to and wouldn’t let go of our standard liability exclusion clauses. China’s in-house counsels had two terms that sounded too technical and too difficult to comprehend for us. At that moment, the Swiss lawyer calmly walked toward the blackboard in the conference room, wrote the relevant equations, and showed us the formula and calculations. His calculations proved that part of the performance of the high-speed rail programme depended entirely on the parameters of the lines, tunnels, and culverts. The production of components related to these parameters was out of Siemens’ responsibility as these were not supplied by Siemens. Therefore, of course, we should not be responsible if any problem arose from that. In the subsequent negotiations with China’s Ministry of Railways, this work/life balanced lawyer had demonstrated our rationale in a most convincing way and nobody could refute it. We successfully defended our interests in the end. When we were back from the negotiations, he gave us comprehensive explanations and guidance on each technology-related part of the Siemens standard agreement, explaining the reasons behind each clause and vividly explaining the importance of understanding the company’s business/operation. It was awe-inspiring!

Taking this as a background, I would like to talk further about a company’s standard terms and conditions.

Why are the Standard Terms written in a certain way? Wouldn’t it work if it was not written like this? What should we do if someone challenges our terms? You have to ask yourself more about these in your daily work to be prepared for a day that you are being put on the negotiation table. There was a time I helped our business team to negotiate with another company’s legal department directly for a project. At first, they got the upper hand in the negotiation because of the relative business positioning. However, it was their General Counsel who cost them the advantage. Since he did not fully understand their standard T&Cs, he could not bargain with us in the most effective way. During the negotiations, their procurement team put pressure on their lawyers, and in the end, certain terms of their standard contract were abandoned by their lawyer. As a result, we finally “won” the negotiation.


Is the General Counsel of TRW Automotive an easy role?

Sherry: The position of TRW Automotive did not seem to be as prestigious as Siemens’s job. Why did you choose to leave Siemens? What precisely was the TRW General Counsel role?

YG: I had the same thoughts here; when I first looked at the General Counsel JD, I was not very interested. At that time, the headhunter told me TRW’s President was an open-minded American lady, and she was looking for someone to help her out with partnership management.

In terms of responsibilities, it was about 15% acting as a General Counsel overseeing and providing legal advice on their COEM practice, which is the main business of China’s auto parts. I was also responsible for managing the joint ventures, anti-monopoly, and FCPA issues. The remaining time was to help the President manage any business-related fields, mainly including partner management, customer quotation analysis, and critical project review.

The lessons learned from the CEO role

Sherry: Given that you had already taken many business-related roles beyond the traditional legal responsibility at TRW Automotive when you became the CEO with Westport, what did you do, and what’s the difference from the past business role?

YG: There are four core responsibilities of a CEO:

  1. Vision – The CEO is responsible for the company’s strategic direction; ensure it grows in the proper direction.
  2. Strategy – Develop business strategies and plans that align with the vision.
  3. Action Plan – Lay out the next steps your business will take to achieve goals in pursuit of that vision.
  4. Execution of that plan.

When I was in TRW, I was in the role of advisor, assisting the President in making decisions. But as a CEO, I have to make my own decisions. Can my employees thrive?  To a large extent, it depends on whether I can make the right decisions.  This is probably the most significant difference.

What experience have I acquired?  I believe all roads lead to Rome. Every CEO has his/her ways to success. I want to share more about the lessons I learned. Looking back now, the most significant experience I have gained that helps me a lot in my current legal work is “to know what your target audience wants.”

Many in the auto-parts business think that their primary customer is a vehicle manufacturer, but it is not. A driver or the person who runs a vehicle team is our actual customer. Let me give you an example, a foreign-manufactured and imported truck should be of high quality and have a yearly operation failure rate below 3%. But the price is three times of one of China’s domestically produced trucks (of course, the failure rate of domestically produced vehicles is higher than 3%). However, in China, the imported trucks are not necessarily more popular than domestically produced trucks; why? Do our local Chinese customers not have concerns about the quality? Of course; they do care. Are they too price-sensitive? Not necessarily. It is because the truck users only care about the result. Even if there is a malfunction in a locally produced truck, as long as there is a way to minimize the impact on the operating time, the domestically produced option is still way more cost-effective. This rationale explains why the sales of the domestically produced trucks with a higher failure rate are still outstanding, especially in the areas where well-developed highways where a vast maintenance highway network is available. It only takes a few hours to repair the out-of-order truck. The time cost is far less than the retail price of the imported truck. While users who are doing businesses in sparsely populated areas would prefer to purchase imported vehicles as it takes a longer time for the repair service team to attend to the problem, so the time cost could potentially be higher than the retail prices of imported trucks. That’s it! The working principle of our legal work is the same.

So often we, lawyers, are too entangled in something which is not what our users are most concerned about: legal teams always regard good product quality as the most important, for example, a comprehensive memo covering all aspects. However, it’s not always necessary. The need of your user business department is a workable solution, not the best available legal which may not be cost-effective for them. The business environment is fast-changing, and the pressure of sales is so intense.

The primary responsibility of an in-house legal team is to ensure the company’s business conduct is compliant with laws, rules, regulations, and policies. Of course, our mission is to help the business develop and grow, as all General Counsels would say. Are the business teams convinced that we have helped the company grow? Maybe we would hear different feedback from our users. It’s not that the in-house legal function is counter-productive, but sometimes in-house teams fail to offer business-oriented proactive solutions for business teams.

People come to in-house teams for legal advice and alternatives, but not lecturing. Also, our actual value isn’t relying on any modifications we made to our standard contract. Sales teams need the revenue to be confirmed in black and white by the contract, which should be approved by legal. The finance team may look for legal’ s endorsement for adjusting the account receivable aging, that’s why they come to us; HR may seek out the legal team when they lack legally sound reasons to fire an employee, that’s a typical senator when they need legal, etc. In helping other departments, you have to understand what their main concerns and difficulties they are facing. Don’t create a rivalry as a lawyer; it’s better to understand what business solutions they are looking for and the best result-driven business-oriented solution.

These were my biggest takeaways when I left the CEO role. I used to believe that I was a lawyer who knew the business very well. But after taking the CEO role, I felt more empathetic toward business teams as I could feel the same pressure and challenges. Many in-house legal teams think they offered business-led solutions, but they don’t. Since they have not done any business, they cannot understand sales teams’ pressure and challenges. As a senior leader from business, at year-end time if his/her team cannot meet their business targets, not only will his/her bonus be affected but the whole team’s will. Sometimes I think my previous high school textbook, Ye Shengtao’s Overcharged Three and Five Dollars[1], vividly expresses this feeling.


Back to Legal

Sherry: You returned to legal when you took a General Counsel role at Johnson Controls Inc (JCI) in 2016. What do you think is the most significant difference in how you approach the General Counsel role now from when you took your first in 2009? 

YG: When I was 33 years old, I thought it was natural for any company to set up in-house legal positions. In-house legal counsels of the company do not need to prove their value. I had never thought about impacting the business as I believed the company must have an in-house legal team to focus on legal matters, and I had the authority to do this; thus, I used an uncompromising tone to push others. Now, I no longer work in this way. Legal teams can have thousands of different approaches. If your business team is super supportive and respects legal, everyone can be a good in-house legal counsel. But no matter what the environment is, there is an ultimate universal principle – the most successful General Counsel will use alliances rather than the authority to unite as many stakeholders as possible in a positive manner.

Let me give you an alliance example: sales teams usually don’t want to involve legal teams in their projects. They want to get the contracts signed as soon as possible; however, most legal teams would want to assess and analyse them carefully to control the contractual risks. Apart from resolving the present contract of a particular project, what can we do to help businesses change these kinds of opposing mindsets? For example, the current target of sales teams is the number of orders they could sign by the end of the year, determining their bonus. So they work very hard to get the deals signed, regardless of the payment terms and company profit levels; their KPI is just sales figures. So we can see the crux of the problem here. If we want to change the status quo, we must alter their KPI from pure sales figures to a more combined total package, pushing them to pay more attention to how much value the actual orders can create for the company, including profit and cash flow. Of course, sales teams are not willing to take the initiative to change the system, so we had better first reach a consensus with the finance department. Then, we need the HR department to adjust the current bonus model, increase the composition of indicators that we think align with the company’s broader interests, and reduce the proportionate influence of pure sales data. Finally, we can go to discuss the plan with the Sales Director. By doing this, we can solve the problem as quickly as possible and avoid conflicts to the greatest extent possible.

Sherry: In achieving this, there is a precondition that you have a deep understanding of your company’s business and maintain excellent relationships with various departmental heads. Apart from the role as APAC President for Westport, you have taken few senior positions in recent years. The rest are positions where people must have an immediate expectation on you, before internal trust had been established. How did you deal with these difficulties? How did you establish their trust in the success of these new originations?  

YG: This is the best question of today. Trust is earned but not given. People won’t trust you simply because you have an excellent credential in your resume or you come on board with a big title and a senior ranking in the company. You need to do your job to justify it. The reason for a career move is that you assume the next place will be better than your current one. Then, why do you think they should give you something better, say a salary increment? They provide you with something better, so they would expect something better from you. So you have to make efforts to justify this.

Firstly, you have to excell in your profession, legal. Next, you should try understanding your company’s business, thus making one or two positive impacts on your new company within your expertise range, as soon as possible. And then, if possible, achieve in the area that is outside your expertise range, to impress and surprise people who were not expecting this. Since then, people will see how good you are, and they certainly want to collaborate with you.

Secondly, you have to stand firm. No one can please everyone. I didn’t become a successful General Counsel because people like me; I am a successful General Counsel because I can deliver results that no one else can. Once again, you have to take care of your team, firmly support their work, and care about their development, because they are the warriors who help you fight in every battle.

Finally, take time to take stock of a situation. Remember not to focus on short-term gains or losses. Be patient! Great opportunities will come to you in the long run as a result of changes in the organization.

Sherry: Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me today.  Your insights are incredibly inspiring to all of us.

YG: Thank you very much.

[1] Overcharged Three and Five Dollars, a short story written by Chinese writer Ye Shengtao. The novel was published in the inaugural issue of Literature on July 1, 1933. There was a bump in the Chinese grain harvest of 1932. Famers from all over the country thought that they could sell the crop at a good price, but unfortunately, the price of grain dropped to only five dollars, less than half of in the past, pushing the farmers further into poverty. The novel describes this situation.

Hughes-Castell: 2019 Leading Adviser Award for Leading Specialist Legal and Compliance Recruitment Consultancy of the Year, Hong Kong

Hughes-Castell was honoured as “Recruitment Consultancy of the Year, Hong Kong” in the AI 2019 Leading Adviser Awards.

No matter how successful a business or individual may be, it goes without saying that away from its own assemblage of talent and expertise, there will always be a network of trusted lawyers, advisers and consultants behind the scenes helping to inform, guide and shape the way in which it operates.

Since 2014, AI Media have looked to highlight some of the most renowned and innovative professionals from around the world. Those recognised have been handpicked, based on the comprehensive analysis of our in-house team, who have left no stone unturned to ensure that these awards are allocated only to the individuals and firms that truly deserve them.

Whether those put forward hail from the largest, international corporations, or the small firms and individuals that work alongside them, they are aiming to highlight the industry’s shining lights.

Hughes-Castell: 2016 CV Recruitment Award for Best Legal and Compliance Recruitment Consultancy

Hughes-Castell was honoured as “Best Legal and Compliance Recruitment Consultancy” in the CV Recruitment Awards 2016.

The CV Recruitment Awards are designed to focus on the firms, and the people behind them, that have driven the industry to this enviable reputation.

The program is looking to reward and recognise the very best consultants, recruiters and industry experts from around the world, regardless of business size or reputation.

Hughes-Castell: 2015 Sector Performance Awards for Best in Sector – Legal Recruitment

Hughes-Castell was honoured as “Best in Sector: Legal Recruitment” in the 2015 Sector Performance Awards.

The AI award is run by AI Global Media, a monthly magazine that seeks to inform, influence and shape global corporate conversation.

The Sector Performance Awards honour the businesses and individuals at the top of their game in their sector, and get an inside look at how they not only deliver but exceed expectations for their clients.

Clifford Chance Loses Seoul Glow

Clifford Chance’s decision to close its Seoul office is not necessarily a surprise since the Magic Circle firm had had no resident partner in the city for some time but it may also be indicative of a wider trend of global firms reducing their Asia footprints. Upon liberalisation of the South Korean market in 2012 a flurry of international openings occurred as firms dashed to secure teams and partners to establish footholds in the market but, as was previously the case in Singapore, the market is divided between foreign and local firms and remains dominated by the larger native entities. Simpson Thacher & Bartlett and McDermott Will & Emery also shuttered their Seoul offices in 2018 and 2019 respectively, although Dentons continued to expand their international network by merging with local firm Lee International IP & Group to form Dentons Lee in 2020, a move which bridges the gap between the local and foreign firm markets.   

Clifford Chance also withdrew from Jakarta and Bangkok in recent years, seeing more value in consolidating their South East Asia practices in Singapore, and a widely acknowledged effect of the pandemic has been firms having to adapt to servicing clients remotely where necessary. As they have become more successful at this, and as the global economy suffered, it’s no surprise to see firms looking at their second-largest outgoing (rent) more acutely and seeing where savings can be made. All three firms that have left Seoul publicly stated that they remain committed to the market but feel they can comfortably cover what is required from further afield.

As the world opens up again it will be interesting to see how firms adjust their international strategies. Although the world has become smaller due to advancing technologies and ease of travel, it is still invaluable to have a physical presence in a core market. But some firms are seeing less value in having multiple regional offices, especially where rents are high, there is fierce competition for local talent, and deal flow and fees are unpredictable. If larger firms feel that the margins are becoming too squeezed in such markets, this gives smaller firms with more flexible fee structures opportunities to carve their own spaces, perhaps in specific niche practice areas that ordinarily pass under the radars of the global behemoths. With exceptions, the biggest firms seem to remain ambivalent about putting offices in, for example, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Taiwan, leaving the door open to smaller firms that may only enjoy second- or third-tier status in established markets such as Hong Kong and Singapore but could quickly establish themselves as market leaders in those jurisdictions.    

How to ace your partner interview

Partner recruiting in general is a complex and lengthy process. It can take anywhere from a couple of months to over a year. At the core of the process are the interviews with prospective colleagues and leaders at other firms. In preparing a partner-level interview, you have to be able to present a compelling appraisal of yourself and your practice. To help partner-level candidates prepare, here are some key pointers.

Leadership and management style

Law firms are comprised of talented legal professionals, but only a few are chosen to ascend to partnership. Capable partners with distinct leadership and management styles can heavily impact a law firms’ business. Hence, you need to show any prospective new firm that your leadership experience/skills and management style are the right fit for them. Explain how you have taken a leadership role in your current firm or practice, where you might have demonstrated leadership, including in recruitment, associate development, firm administration, syndicating best practices for business development, etc. Also, don’t forget to highlight any specific accomplishments as leaders.

Partners’ management styles can impact the performance and productivity of associates or business teams by empowering their colleagues. You need to demonstrate how your management style can motivate and encourage associates to perform tasks eagerly, effectively, and efficiently. Your style may be collaborative, visionary, commanding, or mentor-mentee coaching; you need to be flexible and adapt your management style to suit the prospective firms and situations you are dealing with.

Character traits matter

Prospective law firms will look at more than just a book of business. Character traits matter when hiring a partner. Law firm recruiters assume all partner-level candidates are intelligent and capable. Hence, their goal is to assess your personality, find out what you are like as a person, and determine whether you have the right mix of personality traits to fit their prospective firm’s particular culture. So, do not leave your personality at the door during a partner interview. Let the interviewers see the real you.

Among other things, critical candidate qualities that law firms always look for are team spirit, ambition, good communication skills, self-motivation, and strong leadership.

Portable business delivery

If the size of your portable book of business is impressive, it will likely be broken down in detail during the interview. Although you will address it in your business plan, it will still be a major discussion point. When you address this topic, numbers should be presented with clarity and firmly backed up. Any uncertainty in this area will lead the interviewers to question your ability to bring in business.

It is easy to exaggerate portable business levels. Please note that firms will want to confirm as far as possible that yours are real and will expect targets to be hit accordingly. If you do not have a sizeable book of business, instead of artificially inflating the number perhaps you can discuss your major clients, how you have been able to build those relationships, and how confident you are that you will be able to extend those relationships to more lucrative effect from a new platform. 

Compensation expectations

Compensation expectations should be assessed fairly. Therefore, whenever you are asked about your compensation expectation, your answer should be fair and realistic. Ratios tend to hover around the 3:1 mark (projected billings: compensation).  Performance-related incentives are increasingly prevalent in compensation packages, especially in times of turbulent markets, so be honest with yourself about what you can achieve before committing to such an arrangement. Regardless of how impressive your traits, technical skills, or experience may be, billings are key. Firms will also put a lot of stock in what your current package is so being open and up-front early is on is worthwhile. Going through several rounds of interview only to discover that expectations on both sides are too far to bridge is a frustrating experience for all concerned.

Cultural fit

Think about how what you like and dislike about your current and previous firms’ cultures and assess what your priorities are for your next home, and what would terminate your interest. It’s sometimes difficult to bring up a firm’s working culture at interview as incumbent partners will want to sell the firm as well as they can whatever the reality, so it’s a good idea to do some due diligence on the culture of the firm. Talk to people who work there, consult the recruiter involved, or contact fellow law school alums for insight and information.

Have a firm grasp on any recent developments in your area

Partner candidates are bound to be tested in some way about their commercial awareness, both in an interview with partners and in how they present their business case. Therefore, make sure you have a good grasp of latest developments in legislation, changes in procedure, and market developments that could affect how you go about building business.

Firms will also see value in partner candidates for their personal brand, professional networking, articles they’ve written, panel talks, presentations, etc. Partners should show they are a strong collaborative and team-oriented subject matter expert with a solid understanding of their clients’ businesses and views about their sector’s future, such as any ‘hot’ or growth areas.

Anticipating the length of the interview process

A partner interview in general can last anything from 40 minutes to a couple of hours. An engaging discussion may well be extended by more representatives of the firm joining the interview, time and availability permitting. An organically developing conversation is often more productive and efficient than a series of shorter interviews where a lot of similar ground will be covered multiple times. Make sure you are well-rested and have plenty of energy (and ideally some flexibility for extending the interview) to take advantage of such an eventuality.

A successful partner-level interview relies on insightful responses, thoughtful and relevant questions, and thorough preparation and presentation of your capabilities, experience and personality. If you need any insider-guidance or advice on CV and business plan drafting, interview preparation, contract negotiation or market insight, we are delighted to offer our unrivalled expertise. Hughes-Castell has been a premier legal executive search firm since 1986 with a notable track record of partner placements in Asia.

Firms look to go green in 2021

As firms continue to strive to look beyond the core strategies of improving client service, profitability, market share expansion, talent acquisition, and so on, ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) criteria are becoming increasingly promoted, with firms appointing dedicated senior staff members to oversee multi-pronged programs and initiatives that fall under this banner.

Hughes-Castell spoke with many senior women in the legal profession to commemorate International Women’s Day to learn about what is being done and what progress is being made to advance gender equality in the industry [Tackling Gender Diversity in Law in the Covid-19 Era]. Mental health has been a topic increasingly discussed over the past decade after concerns were raised over demanding expectations and resultant stresses being put on junior lawyers in particular. Suicides and breakdowns have been an all-too-common recent feature of “BigLaw”. While firms and the industry as a whole have taken steps to implement structures and accessible resources for those struggling with the psychological strains associated with a high-pressure profession with long working hours, there is an argument for greater observance and outreach for those not confident of asking for help or not recognising the symptoms of elevated stress. The advent of the Covid-19 pandemic has brought further issues with the imposition of the working-from-home culture. While this has been lauded for shining light on the benefits of increased flexibility of working hours, reduction of commuting time and increased family time, and has likely changed the structure of the traditional working week forever, many have suffered from feelings of isolation and loneliness, being largely divorced from human contact beyond video conferencing.

As the world belatedly wakes up to the peril of the ongoing environmental crisis, law firms are not alone in examining how to reduce their carbon footprint. Greetings cards for Christmas, Chinese New Year, etc, are now almost universally delivered electronically, whereas previously such a gesture may have been received as something of a lazy, impersonal afterthought. It’s a small shift but it reflects more broadly changing attitudes.

The pandemic obviously all but ended international travel, and firms and clients had to forego the actual meeting room for virtual remote video conferencing. As firms and individuals have adapted to this, and technology has been forced to improve to keep pace with more demanding requirements, it will be interesting to see whether firms go back to the previous model of extensive travel. As greater scrutiny is placed on the preponderance of air travel and its effect on the environment, will firms adopt a more conservative approach – one which is more time-efficient and cost-effective, as well as “greener”? Firms’ brochures nowadays are far more likely to promote examples of deal activity in carbon-neutral and zero-emission energy projects than fossil fuels, further evidence of firms recognising how perception in the market and among clients matters.

While financial performance has been at the forefront of the minds of all law firm management over the past 18 months, it is gratifying to see that the pursuit of the almighty dollar is no longer, seemingly, the be-all and end-all. The increasing prevalence of ESG, and its presumed influence on the topics above as well as others, is only to be welcomed.



How your firm can stand out and hire the “right” lawyers in the post-Covid-19 period?

The competition for legal talent remains fierce, even with the pandemic still hampering the economy globally. While approaching the post-pandemic period, law firms, alongside companies across all industries and sectors, in need of new talent will have to hire externally to support their anticipated quick recovery. Therefore, finding the “right” talent is a core driver for growth, especially when organizations are facing unprecedented cost and cash flow pressures caused by the pandemic.

How organizations stand out from the crowd and convince the best-suited candidates to join them will define their success. What follows are five tips to help your organization stand out to hire the perfect-fit candidates.

Craft a winning strategy

Firms and companies should carefully define their primary hiring objectives to best organize and streamline the hiring process. A detailed plan should be crafted incorporating specific strategies in order to achieve its objectives. The plan may include leveraging internal referrals, external networking, exploring advertising channels, and engaging with experienced recruiters to source talent more efficiently.

Nobody knows the vacant position you need to fill, or indeed the firms itself, as well as you do. Therefore, it is important to give clear, detailed, and accurate information to whoever is handling the recruitment process. Ensure that they fully understand your culture, structure and growth plans, and give them the opportunity of being able to present your firm to prospective lawyers in the best possible light.

Draft well-thought-out job descriptions

Too often, law firms and companies fail to view the job description as a key way to attract candidates. Firms should be able to articulate why the role they are looking to fill provides a great career development opportunity for candidates. Take this unprecedented period as an example; stability and flexible work polices are among the most important thing to current job seekers, so any firm should highlight these aspects on the job description.

Focus the job description on credentials that are advantageous rather than required. This is particularly true when the position has general rather than specific responsibilities or skillsets. If you merely concentrate on rigid requirements, you may miss out on a chance to hire someone with a proven ability to learn rather than those who have experience in certain things but are not interested in expanding their horizons.

Introduce key members of your organization

Your senior legal staff are busy people who will likely have been working remotely during the pandemic. It may be hard to find time in their schedules to meet with candidates in person. Having candidates meet with representatives of the firm online or via video conference is often the only practical method. Candidates always want to know who their future leaders will be and hear about what it is like to work at the firm. Delaying such interaction may end up with the candidate going elsewhere.

Maintain an expansive online presence

Legal recruitment is changing. To keep up in a talent war nowadays, you need to promote your brand on social media. Companies no longer take to social media just to answer customer services questions or sell their products/services, but to promote social policies, charitable initiatives, community outreach projects, and so on.  For example, over the last twelve months and beyond law firms post Covid-19 related content on different channels to demonstrate how they have dealt with the various challenges.

Digitalization is the new normal in recruitment. Your firm needs to utilize technology, such as recruitment tools, virtual screening methods, interview scorecards, and online conferencing software. A virtual interview will frequently be one of a candidate’s first interactions with your firm. So, your recruiting team needs to make sure you are ready to be in front of the camera to communicate smoothly with the candidate. Also, your team should understand how virtual interviews are different from in-person ones and hone best practices as a group.

Form a working relationship with a reliable agency

Organizations need to ensure that hiring remains efficient and effective over time. If your firm cannot find the right lawyers or if your hiring processes aren’t working, then your firm needs to take the initiative in effecting changes. Hiring processes can be long, tiring, and arduous as firms and companies will see a high volume of applications that hiring managers have to assess and evaluate comprehensively. Partnering with a seasoned and trusted legal recruitment agency offers up-to-date insight into the current talent pool, an already-developed pool of active/passive candidates that can be filtered according to your bespoke requirements, and a second pair of experienced eyes to help your candidate search and evaluation. Candidates also welcome the opportunity to consult with recruiters over the interview processes and the professional and cultural environments of different firms so working closely with a firm that you exchange information with frequently will be mutually beneficial.