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Asia offering partnership opportunities

Posted by: Laurence Simons 25/01/13

Law firms in Asia are increasingly offering junior partnerships to people already in counsel jobs as a way of encouraging talented lawyers to join up - with the ongoing expansion of multinational companies into the continent, they are coming up against a dearth of experienced and capable staff.

Whilst the prospect of moving to an exciting environment, meeting new people and doing law might be sufficient reward for some daring young souls, firms keen to pick up the cream of the crop know that the prospect of a big sign on the office door saying partner is a strong incentive.

In the past month at least ten such counsel-to-partner hires have been reported across China, Hong Kong and Singapore, according to the Lawyer.

DLA Piper's appointment of Shearman & Sterling counsel, Yu Jin Tay, to its international arbitration business in Singapore, and Gadens' launch in Singapore with the hire of Clifford Chance energy counsel, Marc Rathbone, are two examples of this kind of move.

A recruiter told the news provider that the Asian market is offering far more opportunities than its British counterpart, reflecting the overall macroeconomic outlook of the two regions and the efforts made by multinational firms to establish a foothold in the east in order to sidestep the lack of growth seen in Europe.

"If there's no opportunity at their existing firm another may want to offer them the junior partner title as a carrot, given the limited talent pool in Asia," they added.

On the other hand, the trend also reflects the difficulty some firms may be having in attracting top-end partners, with the appointment of junior partners proving a more economical option than offering Premiership footballer-type salaries.

"If a firm doesn't have a record, a strong brand or a niche, it's hard to convince successful partners to move. They are cautious about moving to a new platform in today's climate," the recruiter concluded.

Young, hungry lawyers hopeful of making their fortune are advised to tie up all their belongings in a handkerchief, attach it to a stick, and make their way to the east post haste.