Asia Chronicles

The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting.
Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past six years. You can reach them by email: asia@kinneyrecruiting.com.


Kinney Recruiting’s Evan Jowers is currently in Hong Kong for client meetings and still has a few slots available through October 22.  Evan will also be in Hong Kong November 14 to December 15.  Further, Robert Kinney has been in Frankfurt and Munich this week and is available for meetings with our Germany based readers.

One of our key law firm clients has referred us to one of their important clients in the US, Europe and China – a leading global technology supplier for the auto industry – in order to handle their search for a new Asia General Counsel and Asia Chief Compliance Officer.

Kinney is exclusively handling this in-house search.

This position will have a lot of responsibility and include supervision of eight attorneys underneath them in the Asia in-house team.  The new hire will report directly to the global general counsel and global chief compliance officer, who is based in the US.  The new hire’s ability to make judgement calls is going to be as important as their technical skill set background.

The position is based in Shanghai and will deal with the company’s operations all over Asia and also in India, including frequent acquisitions in the region.

It is expected that the new hire will come from a top US firm’s Shanghai, Beijing or Hong Kong offices, currently in a top flight corporate practice at the senior associate, counsel or partner level.  Of course, the candidate can be currently in a relevant in-house role.

Mandarin fluency is strongly preferred.

Compensation package is at over $500,000 USD.

Please reach out to Evan Jowers at <a href=”mailto:evan@kinneyrecruiting.com”>evan@kinneyrecruiting.com</a> or <a href=”mailto:asia@kinneyrecruiting.com”>asia@kinneyrecruiting.com</a> if you are interested.

Our client is a premier international law firm based in Texas with an immediate need for a mid-level environmental associate in the firm’s Austin office. This firm boasts one of the best environmental practice groups in the state and is known for the quality of its client roster and the collegiality and skill of its attorneys. The winning candidate will have two-plus years of major firm environmental law experience (both regulatory and environmental litigation experience is preferred), Top academic credentials (Top 20 JD; Top of class – no exceptions), and excellent communication skills. Qualified out of market candidates looking to relocate to Texas for valid reasons will also be strongly considered. This is a partnership track position and compensation is at the top of the market.

Don’t hesitate to contact daniel@kinneyrecruiting.com for more information. This is one of the best environmental law associate opportunities we have seen in some time and is a rare, major firm opportunity in Austin. The group would also consider adding this hire to its Houston office.

Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past seven years. You can reach them by email: asia@kinneyrecruiting.com.

Please note that Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney are still in Hong Kong and will stay FOR THE REMAINDER OF THIS WEEK. We still have a handful of available slots for meetings with our Asia Chronicles fans.  If we have not been in touch lately, reach out and let us know when we could meet!  There is no need for an agenda at all.  Most of our in-person meetings on these trips are with folks who understand that improving a legal practice through lateral hiring is an information-driven process that takes time to handle correctly.

Email asia@kinneyrecruiting.com to set up a meeting with us!

Regarding trends in lateral US associate hiring in Hong Kong, we of course keep much of what we know off of this blog.  Based on placement revenue, though, Kinney is having one of our most successful years ever in Asia.  We  are helping a number of our law firm clients with M&A, fund formation, cap markets, project finance, FCPA and disputes openings.  These are very specific needs in many cases, so a conversation with us before jumping in may be helpful.  As always, we like to be sure to get the maximum number of interviews per submission, using a well-informed, highly targeted, and selective approach, taking into account short, medium and long-term career aims.

Making a well informed decision during a job search is easier said than done – the information we provide comes from 10 years of being the market leader in US attorney placements at the top tier firms in Asia.  There is no substitute for having known a hiring partner since he/she was an associate or for having helped a partner grow his or her practice from zip to zooming, and this is happily where we stand today – with years of background information on just about every relevant person in all the markets we serve, and most especially in Hong Kong/China/Greater Asia.  So get in touch and get a download from us this week if we can fit it in, or soon in any case!

Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past seven years. You can reach them by email: asia@kinneyrecruiting.com.

Things have changed recently in Korea – a few of our US and UK client firms are looking, very selectively, for a lateral US associate hire. Until just recently, there was not much hiring like this going on in Korea, since US and UK firms started opening offices there. We have already placed two US associates in Korea in the past month at top firms. Most of the hiring partners we work with in Korea do not actively work with other recruiters.

If you are a Korean fluent US associate in London, New York or another major US market, 2nd to 6th year, at a top 20 firm, with cap markets or M&A focus (or mix), or project finance background, and you are interested in lateraling to Korea to a top US or UK firm, please feel free to reach out to us at asia@kinneyrecuiting.com or evan@kinneyrecruiting.com. Our head of Asia, Evan Jowers, was just in Korea recently, and Evan and Robert Kinney will be in Korea in a few weeks.  We are in the process of helping several firms open new offices in Korea (a number of which are interviewing our partner level candidates)  and also helping existing offices there fill openings.

Even if you have no interest in moving to Korea any time soon, but just want to discuss the market in general and what we are predicting there for the next few years, feel free to reach out to us.  Those are interesting conversations we always enjoy.

As most of our readers are probably already well aware, just about every major US firm in Hong Kong / China is interviewing and hiring US associates for at least one opening, in M&A or cap markets or a mix.  Many firms have multiple such openings. There are also openings in FCPA / White Collar, project finance, and other areas.

The above is only newsworthy in that it is, as we predicted at Kinney earlier this year, a mini-boom hiring market in HK / China for US associates that started late August and will last at least two months.

It is during such a hiring boom that its going to be very helpful for you to speak with us and evaluate the best possible landing spots to consider in Hong Kong / China, according to your background, career and life goals, rather than simply finding a landing spot.  The relationships that Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney have with just about any US hiring partner (including some who we have placed) of significance in Hong Kong / China, along with the many current and former US associates there (including many we have placed), give us the ability to help you make the most informed decision at various steps in the process.  These steps include, but are not limited to –  whether to simply transfer within your firm to or within Asia; how and when to request such a transfer; if targeting other firms, when and which to target; which hiring partners may have the better practice fit or be better mentors; and how and whether to negotiate on offers and counter offers.

We recommend you don’t consider a move or transfer to Asia or within Asia unless you know you can be fully informed going in to such a process.

Feel free to contact us at asia@kinneyrecruiting.com and we would be happy to discuss your Asia prospects with you, regardless of whether you want to start a job search any time soon. If you do speak with us and decide to start a job search,  we won’t try to convince you to use our services and representation. That’s entirely up to you to ask for our help and representation.

Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past seven years. You can reach them by email: asia@kinneyrecruiting.com.

We at Kinney Asia have made a number of FCPA / White Collar US associate placements in Hong Kong / China thus far in 2014. Most of such placements have been commercial litigation associates from major US markets, fluent in Mandarin, switching to FCPA / White Collar litigation. Some have already had FCPA experience, but those are difficult candidates for firms to find (this will change in coming years as US firms are now promoting FCPA / White Collar to their 2L summers who are fluent in Mandarin and have an interest in transferring to China at some point).

Legal Week quoted Kinney’s Head of Asia, Evan Jowers, extensively in the following relevant article here.

There is a new trend in the market, though, where mid-level transactional US associates, fluent in spoken Mandarin and written Chinese, are interviewing for and in some cases landing junior FCPA / White Collar spots in Hong Kong / China at very top tier US firms.

However, most such folks who apply for these positions are not getting interviews, much less offers, even when coming from peer firms. if you are interested in making this switch, and willing to take a year or two (or more) haircut, it will be important to be able to demonstrate an interest in litigation going back years (it’s understandable, for obvious reasons, that one with an eye on returning to HK / China and a preference for litigation over corporate would have in law school chosen corporate up until only a few years ago). It can be difficult to demonstrate such interest, but even the smallest hints, such as moot court competition or applying to a clerkship (but not following through) can help. Some PRC nationals may have had actual litigation experience as PRC attorneys before entering their JD program and that is obviously a big help. Other “switch” candidates have expressed to our Kinney team a desire to make such a switch for a year or more and that can be powerful evidence as well because we certainly will let hiring partners know.

If you want to maximize your chances to get FCPA / White Collar interviews, as a transactional switch candidate, or if you just want to learn more about potentially making such a switch, then we highly recommend that you reach out to our Evan Jowers at evan@kinneyrecruiting.com. Evan has been helping US transactional associates make this switch to FCPA / White Collar in HK / China for some time now. It’s not an easy switch to make, from the standpoint of getting interviews and offers, but it can be done. Evan has been working with a number of FCPA / White Collar hiring partners in Asia for years who count on our Kinney Asia team to staff their teams. He has also become quite familiar with this practice area, due to his interest in attending various FCPA seminars in both Asia and the US and his own white collar practice background during his in-house days.

Top tier firms with FCPA / White Collar junior associate openings in HK / China over the past few years have struggled to find native Chinese litigation junior associate candidates who meet their firms’ high standards of JD academics and firm pedigree. This is why a few of these hiring partners in HK / China are turning to outstanding transactional mid-levels who can demonstrate a long-time interest in litigation and a current interest in specifically FCPA / White Collar. These hiring partners are asking Kinney’s Asia team for such candidates and are counting on us at Kinney to screen a large number of transactional to litigation switch candidates and present a few who are most suited for the group, office and opening. We have been very successful in doing so, as all of our handful of transactional to FCPA switch candidates, those who we have actually submitted to top firms after screening them for our client firms, are getting interviews and we believe most or all will have offers this year.

If you would like more information on this or any other topic re the Asia markets, as always feel free to reach out to us asia@kinneyrecruiting.com, evan@kinneyrecruiting.com or robert@kinneyrecruiting.com.

Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past seven years. You can reach them by email: asia@kinneyrecruiting.com.

Please note that Robert Kinney is in New York today and tomorrow and available for meetings. Please reach out at Robert@kinneyrecruiting.com or asia@kinneyrecruiting.com if you would like to meet with him to discuss the Asia or Texas markets.

Later this month, from August 20 to 31 Robert and Evan Jowers will be working from Kinney’s Hong Kong offices and available for meetings.

In September, Evan Jowers will be back in Hong Kong and also in London.  Yuliya Vinokurova will be working from our Hong Kong offices for part of August and  September as well.

The Asia lateral hiring markets remain in fairly good condition.  Things usually slow down dramatically in July and August, due to it being the traditional two week vacation time of year, but things are busier than usual.  Hiring and interviewing  continues to take place, but typically some hirings get put on hold until September at this time of year.

There are M&A openings, especially, at top US firms in Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai – such a good selection of spots that you should speak to our Evan Jowers about each firm, particular office and particular hiring partner, before deciding which to target. Those top tier firms with M&A openings in HK / China are being very selective, but those qualified can also be selective in which firms to target – as each opening, while similar on the surface, is completely different with respect to the personality of the particular team, the type of M&A work, the client list, deal sheet, career advancement expectations within that firm, level of responsibility planned for new hire, the precedent for past associates in group to land great in-house or partner track positions in region or lateral back to US, and how established that practice and that hiring partner are in China or in Asia in general.

Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney placed some of these M&A hiring partners at their current firms and just about all of them Robert, Evan and Yuliya have known very well for years.

Targeting these openings without being very well informed about them , without an hour or more discussion with your recruiter / agent about each opportunity – the pluses and minuses of joining each team, working for each hiring partner – is a disservice to yourself and your career.  It’s flying blind sort of speak, and intentionally doing so.

There may be more cap markets openings by October, if the market comes back strong in September, as we expect, after vacation season.  Earlier this year, the IPO market was very hot in Hong Kong but only a handful of top tier US firms were hiring US cap markets associates, and others were not.  That market is spotty now for all but the very top tier US cap markets practices in HK / China – things have been red hot for those groups since late ’13, both with New York and Hong Kong listings, as well as other cap markets work. Outside of that very top tier, there are very solid US cap markets practices in HK / China that are struggling to stay consistently very busy and also getting work without substantial discounts.

Southeast Asia cap markets work outside of Hong Kong (which was pretty hot in ’12 and ’13) has been slower this year but is picking up after a very slow early part of ’14.  Philippines continues to be hot, for example. Another example is India showing signs of perhaps picking up after being down for some years. Openings for this type of work can be in Hong Kong or Singapore.

Things continue to be red hot in FCPA / White Collar but there are only so many of these groups already established on the ground in Hong Kong / China.  Finance hiring for US associates at top tier US firms in Asia is not a frequent occurrence, but it happens here and there, similar to arbitration / disputes (in Singpaore especially) hiring of US associates. Hiring for antitrust US associates has been picking up recently in China, but is still small in number.

As always, feel free to reach out to asia@kinneyrecruiting.com to set up a phone call with the head of our Asia team, Evan Jowers, Robert Kinney or one of our other Asia team members.

Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past seven years. You can reach them by email: asia@kinneyrecruiting.com.

It’s that time of year again when JDs are starting to apply for 2L summer jobs and 2L summers are deciding which practice area to focus on.

For those JDs with an interest in potentially lateraling to or transferring to Asia in the future, please feel free to reach out to Kinney for advice on firm choices, interviewing and practice choices, relating to future marketability in Asia, or for a general discussion on your particular Asia markets of interest. This is of course a free of cost service for those who some years in the future may be our future industry contacts or perhaps even clients.

For some years now Kinney’s Asia head, Evan Jowers, has been formally advising Harvard Law students with such questions, as the Asia expert in Harvard Law’s “Ask The Experts Market Program” each summer and fall, with podcasts and scheduled phone calls.  This has been an enjoyable and productive experience for all involved.

Evan and the rest of our Asia team – Robert Kinney, Yuliya Vinokurova, Andrew Lin, Jack Hopper and Danielle Cyr  – are of course happy to advise law students from other JD programs as well.

To set up a phone call with Evan or one of our other Asia team members, please email Evan Jowers at evan@kinneyrecruiting.com or asia@kinneyrecruiting.com.

The choices a JD makes during their IL and 2L summers and 2L falls can have an enormous affect on their future marketability in Asia, should they be interested in such a move.

Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past seven years. You can reach them by email: asia@kinneyrecruiting.com.

The head of our Asia recruiting, Evan Jowers will be in Seoul all next week and available for meetings. Evan was in Hong Kong all last week and was unable to meet with everyone who reached out, due to a completely booked schedule. Apologies for that. He is in Hong Kong monthly and Robert Kinney and Yuliya Vinokurova are often in Hong Kong as well, so feel free to reach out to us at asia@kinneyrecruiting.com to schedule a Hong Kong meeting for later this month or next month, or just a phone call if you prefer.

Kinney has had the privilege of representing and placing a number of Korean background US associates and counsels and one partner in Hong Kong, Tokyo, Shanghai and Singapore over the years. We are now getting more involved in the expanding Seoul market. We are helping two of our law firm clients open up offices in Korea at present and that will be taking up some of Evan’s time, but he will have time also to meet with US, UK and Australia trained associates at international firms and Korean firms who would like to meet Evan or re-establish a connection with him. By all means any of the attorneys in Korea who we have worked with and placed in the past should also feel free to reach out to Evan as well at evan@kinneyrecruiting.com. Having any reason to look for a move in the foreseeable future is never a pre-requisite to setting up a meeting with any of our Kinney Asia team. Most of the folks we meet and establish relations with over the years in Asia are not interested in considering a move at our first meeting (or the next several meetings). We always enjoy a good discussion on the market and an individual’s career plans. Ultimately, over 50% of those attorneys we place in Asia have had such discussions with us for 2 or more years prior. Some of our closest relationships in Asia we may never place because they are doing so well at their firm for years and have no reason to move, and that’s fine by us.

We do have a limited amount of Korean background US associate openings in Seoul in project finance, asset finance, M&A and cap markets. It is not a very hot market for lateral hiring at present, but things are picking up when compared to the past two years. We think that the lateral hiring market in Korea will be stronger in ’15 and ’16, conditioned upon market conditions of course, as the dust settles on all these new offices having opened in Korea recently. Most of the US firms in Korea are small offices of perhaps one partner and one associate and will stay small, as they are there to connect their firm’s litigation or other practices back in the US with important potential or actual large Korean clients. The smartphone wars have become extremely lucrative for some US firm’s litigation practices. There are other firms though, some that were among the first US or UK firms to open in Korea, and some which more recently opened or are still working out plans to open, that are true Korean corporate, cap markets, project finance and / or finance practices. In the coming years these larger Korea transactional practice groups (and now or soon to be Seoul offices) will hire from time to time, just as some of the well established Korea practices hired in Hong Kong over the years (before they moved to Seoul).

As always, feel free to reach out to Kinney Recruiting at asia@kinneyrecruiting.com if you have any questions regarding the Asia markets.

Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past six years. You can reach them by email: asia@kinneyrecruiting.com.

Our advice to any Mandarin speaking 2L summer associate who is interested in a future transfer or lateral US associate move to Hong Kong / China: It’s not just about corporate and other transactional practices any more. If you are more interested in litigation than transactional, don’t hesitate to choose litigation or a litigation-related practice area. There is a sharply growing need at top US firms in Hong Kong / China for laterals and transfers in US litigation (mostly FCPA / White Collar work), Anti-Trust, and Disputes / Arbitration. This is not just a trend, it’s a permanent change on the landscape. We find it exciting that Mandarin speaking JDs now have more options to choose from in positioning themselves for a future Hong Kong / China move. Feel free to contact us at asia@kinneyrecruiting.com if you are a summer associate interested in Asia and have any questions about choosing a practice. It can be one of the biggest decisions you make in your career and yet one usually made without much analysis. Also, feel free to contact us if you are an associate interested in joining an FCPA / White Collar practice or Disputes practice in Asia. We have made numerous such placements in the past few years and a number of our candidates are interviewing for FCPA / White Collar positions at present in Asia.

Check out this relevant recent Legal Week article by Elizabeth Broomhall, where Kinney Recruiting’s Evan Jowers is quoted several times: Courting Eastern promise – the drive by international firms to recruit more disputes lawyers in Asia.



Please note that Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney will be working out of our Hong Kong offices the week of June 16, if you would like to set up a meeting with them, to discuss your career and the Asia markets. Evan is in Hong Kong monthly and Robert is there very frequently as well. It is not possible to find a recruiter who has placed half as many US associates and counsels in Hong Kong / China as Evan Jowers and you are not going to find recruiters with more experience in US partner movements in Hong Kong / China as Robert Kinney and Evan Jowers, but Robert and Evan have also advised a lot of US attorneys in Asia over the years, including senior partners, who have not had reason to move from their firms. It is ultimately a relationship business more than a placement business, although placements can be a bi-product of a lot of good relationships. Feel free to reach out to Robert and Evan at robert@kinneyrecruiting.com and evan@kinneyrecruiting.com to set up a meeting.

During any type of lateral hiring market in Asia, hot or cold, we will have the usual M&A, Cap Markets, FCPA / White Collar and Project Finance openings for Mandarin speaking junior to mid-level US associates in HK / China, as well as Korean fluent corporate openings in Seoul and Japanese fluent corporate openings in Tokyo. We have a bunch of those now, as always, in what is currently average and spotty lateral hiring market conditions (Asia lateral market report coming next week). Here though are two of our more unique openings in Asia:

Korean fluent, Project Finance / Asset Finance, mid-level to senior associate (Hong Kong / Seoul)

-This spot is for a 4th to 8th year US associate and will be initially based at a top US firm’s Hong Kong office. However, the hire will likely need to move to the firm’s Seoul office within a year or so. There is a realistic partnership track for this role, especially because of the new hire’s important role in building the Seoul office. Already based in Asia is preferred, but candidates will also be considered from US and Europe. This position is unique for two reasons: Firstly, it is not common to have project finance or asset finance openings for Korean fluent US associates. We have filed a number of such spots over the years, but its not a common opening. Secondly, this new hire will have the special circumstance of arriving into a position where there already exists a business case for promotion to partnership in the future.

PE Fund Formation, mid-level to senior associate, English only ok (Hong Kong)

-This spot is for a 3rd to 7th year associate at one of the top PE fund formation practices in Hong Kong, at a top US firm. What makes this opening uncommon is that English Only is ok for this spot and the expectation is that the new hire with come from New York, London or another major western market where there are very strong PE fund formation practices. The vast majority of the time we have a PE fund formation opening in HK / China, Mandarin is required or at least preferred. There is a business case for this funds group to add a partner in some years so this is a realistic partner track position if the new hire is on the senior end of the 3rd to 7th year range. The range is big because the hiring partner is more focused on finding the highest quality hire with the best PE fund formation experience, who can lead deals, rather than focusing on an exact class year. Of course, the expectations for the new hire will vary depending on their seniority.

Both of the above spots have very competitive pay packages, including NYC top market base and bonus, and very competitive expat / cola / housing allowances for Hong Kong. The hiring partners for both spots have great reputations in the market, not only for their practice, but also for being great mentors and treating their associates well.

As always, feel free to reach out to us at asia@kinneyrecruiting.com if you are interested in one of these openings, one of our many other US associate openings in Asia, or if you just want to talk about your career plans and how to make yourself more marketable in any of the Asia big law markets.

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