Litigation and Disputes
Historically, US practice groups in Asia have focused on capital markets and M&A, making it difficult for litigators to land in Asia. However, since 2011, firms have started relocating and hiring US associates to build out an FCPA / regulatory / government enforcement practice in Asia. Litigators in those practice groups with business fluency in Mandarin or Korean will have the easiest time landing in Asia.
Who are the clients? Some are banks facing regulatory investigations, or Chinese companies traded on the NYSE that the DOJ is investigating.
Language skills are even more paramount for a litigator than they are for a corporate attorney, because much of what you will be doing is conducting interviews of various parties around the region who may not speak English.
If you’re more of an arbitration or disputes lawyer, your best bet is to land at one of the Magic Circle law firms. US firms have remained focused on their white-collar practice, although we expect US firms to focus more on growing their international arbitration practices in Asia in the next 18 months.
I’m Not Any Of Those – Can I Retool?
The general rule of thumb about retooling is: the more junior you are, the easier it is for a firm to retool you. Class year haircuts are also not uncommon among associates seeking to retool, but the same could be said for New York.
Some practice groups in Asia will hire any star junior associate with language skills and retool them, but other firms are sticklers for exact experience.
Is an Asia Practice Right for Me?
For many of the associates we have placed, moving to Asia was the best career move they could have made. Attorneys that we placed in Asia as juniors and mid-levels ten years ago are now leading practice groups or in-house teams. Even if you don’t see your Asia move as a permanent stop, business-minded attorneys will appreciate the dynamism of the Asia markets.
I found Asia to be an adventure, both professionally and personally, and it’s an experience you will take with you wherever your final professional destination happens to be.