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.

2.17 re.JPGAsia Chronicles logo.jpg[Ed. note: This post is authored by Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney of Kinney Recruiting--sponsor of the Asia Chronicles. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates and partners in Asia than any other firm in the past two years. You can reach them by email: asia at kinneyrecruiting dot com.]

Evan here. Today’s post covers (in a very basic way) a) the current poor state of the short-term lateral hiring market in Asia and the Middle East; and b) the strong possibility remains that qualified US associate candidates, who are focused on settling down in Asia, can still land there at top firms in the next 3 to 18 months (it is more unpredictable in Middle East, but also possible). As always, please feel free to comment and I will reply to all (please note, however, that these posts are not memos and I am simply too busy to spend more than thirty minutes or so writing them, so no need to point out spelling and grammar errors).

Before we get started, here are two unique and interesting urgent needs we have:

PE / M&A senior associate in Dubai at major US firm – UK qualified is strongly preferred

Mid-level to senior corporate associate in Eastern Europe at major US firm – specific type of corporate experience not required, Russian language fluency preferred, willingness to work and live in less than fully modernized city required (ok, it is not Asia, but we work Eastern Europe and Russia markets too, thanks to efforts of my colleague, Yuliya Vinokurova.

As mentioned in prior posts and / or comments, the global downturn, while affecting US market lateral hiring since late ’07, started to affect lateral hiring in Asia significantly in late ’08. In the first three quarters of ’08, lateral hiring in Asia was down from the record breaking ’07, but not nearly as significantly so as in the US markets. However, starting in October ’08, we started to notice a more severe drop off in lateral hiring in Asia. In the Middle East, we have noticed a drop off in lateral hiring since late summer of ’08 and, unlike in HK / China (but similar to Japan), there has been only a very small amount of US associate hiring since then (HK / China lateral hiring is substantially down, but not as much as Dubai, for example).

More after the jump…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Asia Chronicles: State of the US Associate Lateral Hiring Market for Asia and Middle East”

hongkong002 re.JPGAsia Chronicles logo.jpg[Ed. note: This post is authored by Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney of Kinney Recruiting--sponsor of the Asia Chronicles. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates and partners in Asia than any other firm in the past two years. You can reach them by email: asia at kinneyrecruiting dot com.]

Evan here, writing from Miami, packing up for another Asia trip this weekend.

Kung Hei Fat Choi! Happy Chinese New Year!! Most firms in HK / China close their doors completely all this week for the holidays.

Here are a few pressing needs that we are working on in Asia and Middle East (there are more, but don’t want to make this a job board):

Tokyo – major US firm needs Korean speaking associates in project finance / leveraged finance practice

Dubai – major US firm needs UK qualified PE / M&A senior associate

HK / China – major US firm looking for IP senior associates / counsel / partner level (from US also considered) and would consider entire groups.

Despite an over one year long recession in US and Europe there are still a lot of new major firm offices opening up in Asia and Middle East. Although times are tough now, the long-term strategy by firms continue on in what will continue to be very important major legal markets in the future. At some firms, there is a need to build up a certain critical mass in new offices and that cannot always be accomplished by internal transfers within the firm. Here are some new offices in the past approximately 6 months (there are more opening in the next few months) :

Baker & McKenzie – Abu Dhabi

Ropes & Gray – Hong Kong

Akin Gump – Abu Dhabi

Weil Gotshal – Beijing

Weil Gotshal – Dubai

Curtis Mallet – Dubai

Proskauer Rose – Hong Kong

Salans – Beijing

Winston & Strawn – Hong Kong

Dechert – Beijing

Covington & Burling – Beijing

Walkers – Singapore

Goodwin Procter – Hong Kong

More after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Asia Chronicles: A Few Urgent Needs / New Offices / Better Lateral Market in First Quarter? / Layoffs”

1.13 Evan ed.JPGAsia Chronicles logo.jpg[Ed. note: This post is authored by Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney of Kinney Recruiting--sponsor of the Asia Chronicles. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates and partners in Asia than any other firm in the past two years. You can reach them by email: asia at kinneyrecruiting dot com.]

Evan here. I am writing from Miami, where I am recovering from another Gators BCS title. It has been a few weeks since we have posted here, due to the holidays and then being slammed upon return to work. There has also been a tremendous amount of partner level recruiting that we have been pre-occupied with in Asia. We will be pumping out two posts per week from here on out.

Notwithstanding the poor lateral hiring market at present, we do have some pressing client needs in Asia and the Middle East. Here is just a sampling:

Dubai – 4+ year PE / M&A associate for major US firm

Dubai – 2+ year strong projects / construction associates needed at major US firm

Dubai – 2+ year Islamic Finance associate with regional experience needed at major US firm

Abu Dhabi – 2 – 4 years US transactional associates needed at major US firm

Hong Kong – 3+ year PE / M&A associate needed at major US firm

Hong Kong – 2+ year PE / M&A associate needed at major US firm, Mandarin preferred

Hong Kong – 2+ year finance associate needed at major British firm

Hong Kong – 5+ year Korean fluent corporate associate needed at major US firm

Beijing – 2+ year PE / M&A associate needed at major US firm, Mandarin fluency required

Shanghai – 3+ year energy associate needed at major US firm, Mandarin preferred

Tokyo – 4 – 8 years M&A / cap markets associate for major US firm, Japanese required

We are receiving inquiries from solid US associate candidates about Asia and the Middle East at present at a much higher volume than ever before. We appreciate all the calls and emails and will respond to all of them, as soon as possible.

Please note that a job search in Asia or Middle East at present requires, above all else, patience. I don’t see a tremendous amount of lateral associate hiring in either market until summer and firms can afford to be picky and deliberate when making new hires in ’09.

More after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Asia Chronicles: Patience Required for Asia / Middle East Job Search in First Half ’09″

AC Help for china ed.JPGAsia Chronicles logo.jpg[Ed. note: This post is authored by Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney of Kinney Recruiting--sponsor of the Asia Chronicles. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates and partners in Asia than any other firm in the past two years. You can reach them by email: asia at kinneyrecruiting dot com.]

Evan here, writing from sunny Sunny Isles Beach, Florida, where my wife and I call home when I am not traveling in Asia and the Middle East. After being abroad 10 of 12 weeks, it is nice to be here.

I would like to take this opportunity to briefly introduce our readers to a recent and important development in the China M&A market. In the midst of all the doom and gloom in Asia, with the global downturn most definitely reaching the Asia shores in the past few months, there has been a very positive development in China M&A regulations, a development that could dramatically increase M&A activity in the not too distant future.

Although M&A activity in China has seen a big surge over the past decade, government regulations have prevented M&A numbers in China from reaching the full potential in the market. However, on Dec. 6, the China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC) took steps to correct some significant limitations, by issuing the Guidelines on Risk Management of Acquisition Loans of Commercial Banks. These allow for the first time commercial banks incorporated under PRC law to make loans to companies for the purpose of M&A transactions, including equity and assets of target companies. This potentially opens the door to leveraged buyouts in China. These new guidelines, in large part, reverses the General Principles of Loans, put into effect in 1996, which forbid onshore banks to provide loans for purposes of a borrower’s equity investments in acquisition transactions.

However, only “strong” commercial banks, defined as those with at least 10 percent capital adequacy, will be able to make such loans. Among other requirements, the CBRC will also require such M&A loans to not have terms of more than 5 years; M&A loans cannot be more than 50% of the net core capital of the bank; a good risk management and internal control mechanism; and adequacy ration of loan loss provision being 100%; and the buyer and the target company must be highly related in business and strategy.

These new guidelines will likely not lead to a surge in leveraged buyouts in China in the very near future, but it is an important step, in that companies can now take loans for M&A activity within a legal structure, rather than doing such in a gray area.

More after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Asia Chronicles: Help for China M&A is on the Way?”

fish head soup.jpgAsia Chronicles logo.jpg[Ed. note: This post is authored by Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney of Kinney Recruiting--sponsor of the Asia Chronicles, and an ATL advertiser. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates and partners in Asia than any other firm in the past two years. You can reach them by email: asia at kinneyrecruiting dot com.]

This is Robert, writing from back in the USA after another interesting week in Hong Kong. I took the photo above in a market in Hong Kong last week because it reminded me of some lawyers I know. These are tough times for many, no doubt. Many of the readers of this column have probably seen the recent New York Times article, which quoted and even pictured Evan Jowers as he was running around from meeting to meeting in Hong Kong. That article was so well known that one of our competitors who claim to specialize “exclusively” in recruitment for Asia chose to highlight the article in an advertisement, despite the fact that only we were quoted in it. While in Hong Kong, I learned from clients and contacts that dozens of new recruiters, unfamiliar with the market (some even from my home state of Texas), have been passing around resumes and cold-calling people in Hong Kong (even law firm partners) as if they knew Queen’s Road Central from Tsim Tsa Shui. They are bored in the USA and are reaching out, which is to be commended but won’t help your job search.

In light of the title of the article in the New York Times (which indicated the market for attorneys is comparatively great abroad) and the influx of resumes we have seen from potential candidates for Asia with no nexus to the region and/or relatively weak academic and work experience, I thought it might be useful to set the record straight on exactly how “hot” the market is in Asia. “Hot” is the wrong word. Perhaps things have changed just in four weeks but, in fact, there are layoffs happening in Hong Kong, Tokyo, Singapore and mainland China as we speak. To our disappointment, we have found recently that one candidate we placed a year or two ago and others with whom we were working have been told that they will no longer have a position following a few months. The firms are cutting muscle in these cases, letting go very strong people with no severance other than a couple of months of notice and costs to return to the USA. Many people hope for a quick turnaround and say that they think the “second half of 2009″ will look better, but in reality no one has a clue about the timing other than that everyone knows will come eventually and the first half of 2009 is as far in the future as they can see and up until then, it looks a lot like fish-head soup.

More after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Asia Chronicles: Fish-Head Soup”

Asia Chronicles logo.jpg

EvanHK Kinney ed.JPG[Ed. note: This post is authored by Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney of Kinney Recruiting--sponsor of the Asia Chronicles, and an ATL advertiser. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates and partners in Asia than any other firm in the past two years. You can reach them by email: asia at kinneyrecruiting dot com.]

Evan here, writing from Hong Kong, where we just made two more US associate placements last week and expect another one this week. I just arrived back in Hong Kong late last night, after a family holiday in Bali, and planned to return to US today, but a couple of pending partner level placements in Asia by our team has caused a stay in Hong Kong for another 10 days. Robert is heading back here on Friday. Before Bali, Robert and / or I had been in Tokyo and Hong Kong all of November, for the usual meetings with firms and candidates. Actually, you can catch a photo during my last week in Hong Kong in Sunday’s NY Times: Lawyers Wanted, Abroad That Is

As Robert explained in yesterday’s post, I was unable to post Monday as I had planned. A client is in our HK apartment this week, so while I was in route from Bali yesterday, I relied on admin to get a HK hotel and things did not work out too well with that. Today, I am back in normal hotel digs and am back up and running, with internet and all. Last week we discussed expat allowances in Asia and Middle East. This week we deal with basic expat tax issues. The next post will be on additional expat allowances for associates with children, something firms ask me for advice on routinely.

As always, please feel free to ask any questions in the comments area. Please note that I am writing off the top of my head and am not preparing a tax memo for you (as I would in my days as a biglaw tax associate years ago), so also please feel free to give more details and correct me where need be in the comments area. It would be great for US associates in Asia, Russia and Middle East to join the discussion, as you have experiences filing such taxes after all. This is very basic information, so let’s feel free to get into more detail in the comments.

You probably are well aware and recall from Federal Income Tax back in law school, US citizens and green card holders (both groups, combined, referred to as “US persons”) are liable for US income taxes while abroad, although with a credit given for any income taxes paid to the foreign jurisdiction they are residing. However, US persons do not have US tax liability on their first $87,600 earned abroad (this is the number for 2008, but rises a little bit each year it seems). Of course, this advantage is nullified if the jurisdiction you are working in has higher income tax rates than the US.

More after the jump

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Asia Chronicles: Basic US Tax Issues in Asia, Middle East and Russia”

Asia Chronicles logo.jpgAsia packages.JPG[Ed. note: This post is authored by Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney of Kinney Recruiting -- sponsor of the Asia Chronicles, and an ATL advertiser. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates and partners in Asia than any other firm in the past two years. You can reach them by email: asia at kinneyrecruiting dot com.]

This is Evan from Hong Kong, writing on the fly for about 20 minutes, at 2am, after a long day of meetings, late client dinner and before an early flight to Jakarta. We have recently been asked, by both firms and candidates, whether the downturn is changing the landscape of cola / housing / expat allowances (“expat allowance”) in Asia and the Middle East. I have been hit with this question several times this week in meetings and Robert heard it as well two weeks ago in his meetings as well. So this post will deal with the basic expat allowance rates for associates without children. A follow-up post on Wednesday will deal with school tuition subsidies / reimbursement, expat allowance increases for children, and tax related windfalls (in some markets), as well as some commentary as to whether the current high expat allowances are sustainable for the long-term in Hong Kong and Tokyo, as firms expand in Asia and considering the reality that profit margins can be lower in Asia per billable hour than in US markets.

Please feel free to follow up in comments with any detailed questions on this subject, as we can only go so far in 1000 words here. Many top US and British firms in Asia and the Middle East have routinely asked us to advise them on various details of their expat allowance policy and we have also helped a number of firms draft come up with set expat allowance packages for the first time (rather than continue on case-by-case basis for each new hire). We have the expat allowance numbers for all firms in Asia (but are not going to give out such specific firm information in a public forum).

Hong Kong: The US associate expat allowance for Hong Kong have remained steady, with most top US firms paying in $60,000 to $80,000 range, for associates without children (only three firms are at $80,000 and most are in the 60s). A firm not paying at minimum a $60,000 allowance is simply not paying a competitive rate in the market. However, there are a handful relatively big name US firms that do not provide any expat allowance, or provide very low allowances, in Hong Kong. Such firms are still able to compete for solid candidates in today’s market because the market is flooded with solid candidates, although we find that most of the firms that pay little or no expat allowance are small and not hiring at this time. The majority of the magic circle firms, as well as a handful of other top British firms, pay expat allowances for their US associates in the competitive $60,000 to $80,000 range, with a couple of notable exceptions.

Other cities after the jump.

A British couple convicted of having sex on a Dubai beach had their prison sentences suspended by an appeals court on Tuesday in a case that exposed a cultural divide in this glitzy Gulf boomtown.

Michelle Palmer and Vince Acors were convicted and sentenced to three months in prison in October for having sex outside of marriage, public indecency and drunkenness.

The Dubai Court of Appeals upheld the guilty verdict but dropped their prison sentences though it ruled the couple must still be deported from the United Arab Emirates and pay a fine of about $272 each.

The two Britons, who are both in their 30s, met at an all-you-can-drink champagne brunch before they were arrested in July. Both previously admitted they were drunk but denied having sex.

The case revealed a fault line between Dubai’s expatriate majority and the city’s conservative Arab, Muslim minority.

Public displays of affection are illegal in Dubai a city that has worked hard to cultivate an image as a party hot spot for Western tourists and businesses in the Middle East but has a conservative legal code based on Islamic laws and tribal rules.

“Anything more than a peck on the cheek could offend those around you and even possibly lead to police involvement,” the advisory said.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Asia Chronicles: Expat Packages in Asia”

Asia Chronicles logo.jpg
Tokyo subway.JPG[Ed. note: This post is authored by Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney of Kinney Recruiting -- sponsor of the Asia Chronicles, and an ATL advertiser. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates and partners in Asia than any other firm in the past two years. You can reach them by email: asia at kinneyrecruiting dot com.]

Robert here. …

80+ US associate offers in Asia in the past year! This post space will be a shameless advertisement of Kinney Recruiting’s recent accomplishments in Asia. Why? The information we have presented about the market over the last couple of years has been spread around and there are some slick recruiters out there who do not have nearly enough to do in their home markets these days. How do YOU determine whether a smooth talker has real experience in Asia before you put your trust in him/her? Our first recommendation: don’t focus on flashy banner ads highlighting a couple of placements made in Asia. By all means, listen to whether the recruiter really knows what he is talking about. No one who talks to our Asia team, led by Evan Jowers, is going to have any doubt he is dealing with someone who knows his business. Evan’s been named one of the 15 most important recruiters to know by LawDragon.com, for gosh sakes (see our related flashy banner ad coming soon). But since a lot of us focus on the recent offers and placements above all else, and because so many recruiters are claiming expertise in Asia now, we think it is time to go “open kimono” and give you some specifics. Without further ado, here is a list of some of our recent, in the past year, associate placements and offers received in Asia. We have left partners out of this list (who are my focus) and a few of the recent offers were probably missed, but we still couldn’t fit all of it in a banner advertisement. We’ll edit this to add about 10 more offers as we pull the information together.

’02 from NYC – Sullivan & Cromwell (Tokyo)

’07 from NYC- Weil Gotshal (Hong Kong)

’05 from Hong Kong – Cleary (Hong Kong)

’07 from NYC – Debevoise (Shanghai)

’06 from Beijing – Simpson Thacher (Beijing)

’05 from Hong Kong – Linklaters (Hong Kong)

’02 from NYC – Weil Gotshal (Hong Kong)

’04 from Bay Area – Davis Polk (Tokyo)

’05 from NYC – MoFo (Shanghai)

’98 from NYC- Vinson & Elkins (Dubai)

See the rest of the table after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Asia Chronicles: The Kinney Asia 80+ Recent Offer List”

Asia Chronicles logo.jpg
Tokyo subway.JPG[Ed. note: This post is authored by Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney of Kinney Recruiting -- sponsor of the Asia Chronicles, and an ATL advertiser. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates and partners in Asia than any other firm in the past two years. You can reach them by email: asia at kinneyrecruiting dot com.]

This is Robert, writing jet-lagged after just having returned to Texas from Tokyo, where Evan remains right now prior to returning to Hong Kong in a couple of days for a stay of several weeks. I live in Austin, Texas because this is where I last practiced law, with Brobeck from 2000-2002, Austin is a nice place to live, and this is where our two children (ages six and eight) were born. The flight connections are surprisingly good – I had a full day of meetings on Friday in Tokyo and was home in time for dinner with my family the same day. Still, this is not a particularly convenient place to run one of the leading Asia-focused legal recruiting practices in the country. Thankfully, my partner in the region, Evan Jowers, is able to spend a majority of his time in Asia these days (and he has the Executive Platinum status and bulging passport to prove it) and my wife is understanding of my four or five annual trips of one or two weeks each.

We make these trips for two main reasons. First, we believe in providing the most transparent possible service to our candidates and clients and in doing so with the highest value-add of any recruiting firm. We can’t add much value if all we do is make a few late night phone calls and send a few resumes, and we’re not going to exaggerate to make up for lack of actual experience. It drives me crazy to see the level of exaggeration and puffery that surrounds most legal recruiters’ advertising. Secondly, because of our success in the region we are now working on several strategic plays by law firms in Asia, involving potentially large shifts in the market. Appearing live is an absolute necessity to keep these deals moving.

Read more after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Asia Chronicles: Tokyo to Texas”

Asia Chronicles logo.jpg
Evan in tokyo.JPG[Ed. note: This post is authored by Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney of Kinney Recruiting -- sponsor of the Asia Chronicles, and an ATL advertiser. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates and partners in Asia than any other firm in the past two years. You can reach them by email: asia at kinneyrecruiting dot com.]

Evan here, writing from Tokyo, late Monday night, hoping you are laughing at my attempt at humor above.

So what is the latest on the general lateral market in Asia and the Middle East? Things have not changed much in the past six weeks, with many firms most definitely still interviewing on a fairly regular basis (although several big name firms are in temporary hiring freeze mode in Asia), albeit very selectively, and moving much slower than months ago in making offers. For example, this week I have an ’04 from the West Coast interviewing in Tokyo; an ’07 from NYC interviewing in Dubai; an ’01 from NYC interviewing in HK; an ’06 from NYC interviewing in Singapore; an ’06 from NYC interviewing in Moscow (well, it is Eurasia); an ’06 from HK interviewing in HK; and an’05 from NYC interviewing in HK. Only several months ago, most of these very impressive candidates would have offers in hand on the spot or within a few days of their interview, especially after already being pre-screened by me. Now, offer decisions are typically dragging out two weeks and sometimes much longer. Firms are also having multiple rounds of interviews, with the process continuing when the US based candidate returns home, by VC and / or phone calls (this was rare in the hotter market of earlier this year). Also, on a somewhat related note, we are noticing with our offers that some firms in mainland China and Singapore are wavering a bit on expat / cola / housing packages (offering less than they did earlier this year), but this is not at all happening in HK and Tokyo, where the packages are either the same or going higher (at many firms).

One area of particularly urgent need in the HK / China market is PE / M&A associates with 3+ years for HK and BJ. A few of our top 20 firm clients are looking to fill such spots, so if you feel that you fit the bill, please do feel free to get in touch and we will be happy to go over the details.

I will be in Tokyo all this week and early next, meeting with a number of firms, as well as past placed associates (a bonus in using Kinney for an Asia move is this author showing up in your new market from time to time, unannounced, and convincing you to go out for drinks on a busy work night) and some new prospective or active candidates, before heading back to Hong Kong for a couple of weeks and then Shanghai (photo) for a few days. It is a month in Asia for me, with a side trip at the end to Bali and Jakarta for a little relaxing. Robert is in HK now and will be also be in Tokyo for a couple of days this week, before heading home to Austin (he runs our company, so can’t travel as much as me). Partners at over 30 firms have thus far scheduled meetings with Robert and / or me in HK and Tokyo, so we should have a nice market report to share soon. On a side note, the new Peninsula in Tokyo gets high marks and may be my new favorite Tokyo hotel.

More of a week in the life after jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Asia Chronicles: Odds and Ends … A Week in the Life of a Jet Setting Recruiter”

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