Legal Talent Trends: An Asia Pacific Perspective

Updated: Feb 2


In the views of our panel talent is most in demand in the following sectors and specialisations:


Mandarin proficiency

Reflecting China’s growing regional role, many roles now require Mandarin language skills, and more non-Chinese lawyers are moving aggressively to bolster their Mandarin proficiency. Similarly it’s become more common for senior lawyers to move from global to Chinese law firms, which are relatively flush with cash and may be able to o er better salaries or commission schemes.


Commercial Real Estate

Investment in commercial and industrial real estate has picked up, particularly by Chinese companies, as firms in sectors like logistics and chemicals seek space to build large operations. This will encourage more law firms to seek out real estate expertise.


Aviation

The continued growth of the regional aviation market will fuel demand for aviation leasing, and by extension aircraft financing and structured nance lawyers. This trend will be particularly visible in Hong Kong, where new tax concessions will encourage more aircraft leasing companies to base their operations.


Construction & Infrastructure

In Sydney, where construction and infrastructure activity has hit an all- time high, more and more property, project and construction lawyer roles are up for grabs – yet there’s a shortage of skills in these very areas, a legacy of the global financial crisis when building slowed to a crawl.

How to win lawyers and influence people

Our panel made it clear that across the region, the best legal talent is highly conscious of factors beyond pay and promotions – and that the working practices and spaces of law firms will have to innovate to match.

Some work, some play

Only a few law firms in the region are experimenting with flexible work arrangements, but they are one step ahead in the race to lure and retain talent, and differentiate their brands. Work-life balance and a sense of purpose are a growing priority for many legal professionals, who are gravitating towards firms that o er a degree of flexibility on working hours or locations.

Set a clear career path

While prestigious firms may still have their pick of candidates, with skill shortages arising in some areas it’s increasingly candidates themselves who have the final say. This means firms have to think about the overall proposition they’re offering, ensuring they set out and communicate a clear vision for progression, and are transparent about promotion or relocation opportunities.

Repurpose talent

As talent shortages arise in areas like real estate and infrastructure, in addition to hiring firms should consider offering existing talent the chance to transfer into areas of need, supported by appropriate training and guidance. This will not only help address talent gaps, but also provide the opportunities and variety that motivate people and encourage them to stay for the long haul.

Consider the cool factor

To the current generation of hires, a company’s physical space is an important consideration -- and speaks volumes about its culture. Many now expect the kind of eye-catching designs and amenities (like pool tables or game rooms) that are already standard at technology companies, but still rare at law rms. A welcoming, well-stocked pantry can also provide a powerful boost to morale.

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