2010-2020 – A Decade of Development

2010-2020 – A Decade of Development

Closing out a decade is a fitting opportunity to stop and reflect on our paths, where we are and where we want to go. Ten years ago, we were emerging from a global financial crisis but who knew that we were headed into a new golden age of booming markets, new technologies and a new elite of tech billionaires not only in the US but also in China?

Chinese companies have climbed the ranks to be among the largest in the world in the last decade. In a first, by the end of 2019, more Chinese companies have made it on to the Fortune Global 500 list than US ones. With the rising status and influence of the Chinese economy, there has been more outbound investment and an increase in the number of Chinese conglomerates investing abroad. The China-related economic growth generated deal flow and opportunities for lawyers. Suddenly, out-bound transactions became sought-after targets of international law firms.

In-house, the power of the Internet has fundamentally altered the landscape in Asia. For example, Chinese tech companies need strong in-house legal and governance teams to support their global expansion, which carries with it the onus of strong compliance and corporate governance practices. This trend has created high demand for experienced lawyers with international background and has driven compensation up. The prosperity of China’s economy also gave rise to a new slate of elite Chinese law firms who, with their cross-border ambitions, recruited talent from many top-tier international firms to form the pre-eminent class of “Red Circle” firms.

Digital transformation has also fundamentally changed the recruitment industry. With the increasing dominance of LinkedIn as a business tool, the bar for entry into recruitment is considerably lower and as one newcomer to the industry said, “I came here knowing no-one and nothing about the market, but with a telephone and LinkedIn, I have access to a huge database of candidates.” For us at Hughes-Castell, this meant focusing on our core value-add for candidates and clients alike – our consultative approach, our deep market knowledge gained in over three decades as market leader, and our guiding principle of advising both parties in their best interests to ensure the best long-term fit. We realize the march of recruiting technology is unstoppable, but we also believe recruitment still needs the human touch. We care what happens and we are justifiably proud of our track record of placing lawyers into corporations and law firms where they have had flourishing careers, many for more than twenty years.

On a personal note, I have been with Hughes-Castell over three decades. I joined the company in 1991 as I felt that this was a profession I could identify with. My colleagues have asked me how I can stay so long doing the same thing and I answer that I have always described my work as “spending my time making friends and helping people”. This has been the fundamental driver throughout my career. It is not about work/life balance, it is about work/life integration and many of my candidates have become not only my clients but also good personal friends. It has also been my privilege to lead a great team that guides people towards their full career potential. In this past decade, we also celebrated our own milestones, such as opening our Shanghai office, the celebration of Hughes-Castell Hong Kong’s 30th birthday in 2016, the elevation of two key contributors to partnership in our China operations and of course, welcoming Katherine Fan back to the Hughes-Castell family as Managing Director, to help me lead Hughes-Castell into the next decade.

By Doreen Jaeger-Soong

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