appointments
陈明敏 , SSQ 经理  Betty Chen, manager at SSQ

伴随亚洲法律市场逐渐走向复苏,越来越多的律所及专业人员也对人才管理和职业发展做出了新的规划——2021开年以来亚洲地区频繁的横向招聘就是最好证明。法律招聘专家如何解读这一热潮?对于希望寻求新机会的律所及律师又有哪些建议?

开年以来,亚洲法律市场的活跃度令人眼前一亮,今年第一季度的律所横向招聘数量远超过去一年的总数——仅2021年前两个月,ALB就在该地区录得超过40件横向招聘事件。法律招聘公司SSQ经理陈明敏告诉ALB,除稳定的政治、经济背景外,疫情事件的 “黑天鹅” 特性对于希望在亚洲地区开拓业务的律所来说不失为一个 “弯道超车的好机会” 。一些还未进入,或是渴望在亚洲法律市场进一步扩张自身势力的律所,纷纷开始了人才招募行动。

陈明敏告诉ALB:放眼亚洲法律市场,北京、上海及香港的横向招聘热度尤为突出。如美邦律师事务所(Milbank LLP),2020年下半年起便在香港办公室展开了该所有史以来人数最多的合伙人招募,为自身资本市场、公司并购、银行及金融领域注入了新鲜活力。

谈及律所横向招聘热的另一原因,陈明敏表示,业务领域的需求增长在一定程度上也促进了专注于该领域的合伙人横向跳槽,例如前盛德国际律师事务所(Sidley Austin )合伙人吕梦宇律师带领团队加入凯易国际律师事务所(Kirkland & Ellis)便是一个极其有力的证明。

而科律律师事务所(Cooley)从美迈斯律师事务所(O'Melveny)聘请刘毅铭律师,科律律师事务所(Cooley)从威尔逊事务所(Wilson Sonsini)聘请金朝律师,及达维律师事务所(Davis Polk & Wardwell)从富而德律师事务所(Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer)聘请许嘉律师的行动,也都侧面反映出资本市场,尤其是境外IPO业务,仍是法律行业颇受欢迎的实践领域。

最近,资本市场另一个值得关注的分支领域是特殊目的收购公司(SPAC)业务。由于美联储最近实施极其宽松货币政策应对疫情冲击,SPAC从2020至2021第一季度迈入井喷式发展。不过,与之并行的问题与监管也没有缺席。 据陈明敏观察,美国证券交易委员会近期有意遏制SPAC投资泡沫持续升温,逐步实施了多管齐下的监管措施。因此,SPAC自今年三月以来已出现降温迹象,这也为法律市场提示了新的业务发展方向。

此外,无论在内或在外,有监管经验的律师仍是律所渴望的人才。中国监管机构正对几家互联网科技巨头采取的更为强硬的反垄断措施,陈明敏进而预测,反垄断执法层面的严苛走向,也将使得反垄断监管业务成为大热趋势。

中美日益紧张的地缘政治局势,市场对合规监管领域的人才需求也越来越大,进而促使该业务成为律所横向招聘的热门领域。普衡律师事务所在该领域便吸收了不少专业人才,如来自美国瑞格律师事务所(Ropes & Gray)的朱玉琦律师加入其香港办公室,前霍金路伟律师事务所(Hogan Lovells)顾问严妍律师加入其上海办公室;昆鹰律师事务所(Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan)也同样聘请了前普衡律师事务所合伙人唐海燕律师,进一步拓展其在合规监管方面的业务。

更多元的选择

疫情平衡后经济的强势复苏造就了亚洲,特别是中国法律市场的活跃,该领域的“玩家”也日益复杂化。近年来,除外资所、大型中资所外,一系列新兴平台的崛起也进一步拓宽了律师的执业选择。最典型的莫过于四大会计师事务所逐步涉猎法律行业,在香港、上海或北京等地开始组建或进一步扩张了自己的律师事务所。

除此之外,中外联营所也是一个不错的选择。据陈明敏介绍,SSQ已成功帮助并正在代表协助几家国际事务所在上海自贸区与当地中国律所设立独家联营机构。

另外,以世辉律师事务所、达辉律师事务、植德律师事务所为代表的一系列精品所的飞速发展,也使得他们在人才招聘层面愈发具备竞争实力。

“竞争”一直是法律市场的主旋律,不同类型律所的市场份额变化也决定了人才的流向。例如陈明敏告诉ALB: “据SSQ统计,在北京及上海,外资所的数量及合伙人人数正呈逐年减少的走势,而 ‘红圈所’的数量、员工人数及营收状况都在逐年提升。”

她进而预测,在法律招聘市场,从外资所与“红圈所”两大巨头的比拼,到四大所、中外联营所及精品所的加入,法律市场将会愈发呈现出 “百花齐放” 的态势。因此,她也建议法律从业者 “在考虑新的工作机会时,能够眼光更长远,思想更开阔,找到真正适合自己发展的平台” 。

 

Recruitment rebound shows law firm hiring is back on track

It’s official: Law firm hiring has well and truly recovered from the pandemic. Lateral moves across Asia's legal markets in the first quarter of this year have already surpassed the number from the entirety of 2020. In mainland China alone, ALB recorded more than 40 lateral hires in the first two months of 2021.

Betty Chen, a manager at legal recruiter SSQ, tells ALB that for the law firms looking to expand in Asia, the "black swan" nature of the COVID-19 outbreak is a good opportunity to put some distance between themselves and their competitors. As a result, a number have already embarked on a recruitment drive.

“Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong have seen a particularly sharp increase in lateral recruitment,” says Chen. For example, Milbank’s Hong Kong office has been recruiting partners since late 2020, injecting fresh energy into its capital markets, banking and finance practices.

Another reason for the lateral hiring boom, believes Chen, is the growing demand for specific practice area specialists. A notable recent example of this was the departure of Sidley Austin Hong Kong partner Lu Mengyu, a capital markets expert, and her team to Kirkland & Ellis.

Kirkland was not the only firm looking to bolster its capital markets offering: Cooley recently snapped up Liu Yiming from O'Melveny, while Davis Polk & Wardwell hired Jason Xu from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer. The recent popularity of special-purpose acquisition companies (SPACs) will also impact the hiring of capital markets lawyers, Chen observes.

Another practice area that is much sought-after is regulatory and compliance. As a result of geopolitical tensions between China and the U.S., Chinese regulators are taking tougher anti-trust measures against tech giants, which is becoming a key driver of regulatory work. To beef up in this space, Paul Hastings recently hired Sarah Zhu from Ropes & Gray’s Hong Kong office, and Phoebe Yan, a former consultant at Hogan Lovells in Shanghai. Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan has likewise hired former Paul Hastings partner Tang Haiyan to further expand its compliance practice.

Another trend is the rising attraction of elite Chinese firms such as Shihui Partners, DaHui Lawyers and Merits & Tree Law Offices. “According to SSQ statistics, in Beijing and Shanghai, the number of foreign firms and their partners are decreasing year by year, while the number of Red Circle Firms, their employees and revenue are rising,” Chen tells ALB.

Lawyers looking to change jobs today additionally have a number of options to choose from beyond simply moving to a traditional law firm. For instance, the Big Four firms are steadily establishing themselves in the legal market, with their law firms expanding rapidly in Hong Kong, Beijing, and Shanghai. There are also NewLaw firms such as Axiom.

As a result, Chen advises legal practitioners to "look at new job opportunities with a longer-term perspective and a broader mindset to find the right platform for their development."

 

To contact the editorial team, please email ALBEditor@thomsonreuters.com.