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: [email protected].

cityscape dubai.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, continuing yesterday’s post. I am sure you lost sleep in anticipation…

We believe that the level of participation at the recent Dubai conferences can be viewed as a barometer of market optimism. If the barometer is working, then there is some cause for hope. Over 70,000 people from 150 countries were in attendance at Cityscape Dubai 2008 last week and over 1500 participants from 150 countries showcased projects. This represented record participation by both local and international developers and is a substantial sign of confidence in the UAE’s economy and real-state market, notwithstanding the global financial crisis.

At present there are more than 250 major civil construction projects, worth $120 billion, in the Gulf region. Many of these are in the bidding stage. Only a day before Cityscape Dubai 2008 opened its doors, Nakheel announced it will build a new building in Dubai with world-record height as part of a $38 billion project. The building will reach about one kilometer in height and will be substantially taller than the current tallest building in the world, the Burj Dubai. The Burj Dubai is almost finished and is 40% taller than any other building in the world.

Bullish executives, as we know, can’t always be trusted, but listen to Peter Riddoch, CEO of DAMAC Properties Dubai: “We believe Dubai has the potential to become the most expensive commercial real estate destination in the world in the coming years. The demand and prices for office spaces is increasing; according to a recent report by Colliers International, Dubai is ranked third in terms of global office real estate construction activity, behind Moscow and Shanghai.” The office occupancy rate in Dubai has been reported to be over 98% in ’08.

More positive buzz after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Asia Chronicles: Cityscape Dubai 2008″

nakheel-tallest-tower-751229.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 …

I just arrived back home yesterday after a very productive, interesting, and also fun month-long work trip in Dubai. I was very tempted to extend the trip one more week after being invited to attend the Super Return private equity conference, but unfortunately I had prior business commitments in the US.

In two weeks Robert and I will be in Tokyo for a week and I will be staying in Asia for another month long trip, so the posts will revert back to an Asia focus for a while. As Robert and I mentioned in a recent AmLaw article, “Where Do I Send My Resume”, by Brian Baxter, firms have become much more selective when considering laterals in busy overseas markets, but we continue to make placements in HK / China, Japan, Singapore, Russia and the UAE, and our substantial time spent on the ground in these markets is critical to our success, especially considering the global economic crisis.

For example, being in Dubai for the past month, and meeting with a number of senior attorneys and other industry leaders, as well as just living there in general, allows for a more accurate reading of the level of confidence in the market. I came away feeling very positive about Dubai and the region in general. We will be able to continue to place our candidates there in the short-term and we are not at all worried about the long-term. In fact, we have four candidates interviewing in Dubai and Abu Dhabi next week, who are fly-ins from US, as well as three placements there in the past six weeks (all from the US) so there is still a lot of lateral activity in the UAE, as well as the region in general. The bottom line is that associate candidates with impressive academics and firm experience can land in the Middle East at top US firms, even if they only speak English and have no previous connection to the region, notwithstanding the global downturn.

Continue reading after the Super Jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Asia Chronicles: Super Return Middle East”

dubia life.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. I am writing to you from the Emirates Towers in Dubai, in between meetings with law firm clients (today those firms happen to be Baker Botts, Curtis Mallet and Vinson & Elkins). Last week, we did not venture past the Burj Al, the most famous and symbolic building in Dubai, but a place that you would likely go to only rarely, if at all, if you lateral to Dubai. Today, I am going to give a very basic and broad overview of life in Dubai for a US associate at a major law firm. I am writing off the cuff here, so to speak, being a bit swamped. I will just focus on information and save you this time from my attempts at humor and entertainment. As always, please feel free in the comments area to ask for further information or clarification on any subject. In the near future we will deliver a post that is more focused on life inside the Dubai firms, including practice area focuses and general office culture.

Housing – Expect to spend about $3,500 US per month (if single). This will be a nice and spacious luxury 2br apartment. All of the residential buildings fall into the category of new to brand new and there are plenty of nice amenities and views. A negative is all the construction going on. For example, earlier this year my wife and I spent a week at an apartment in Marina (a new high rise residential development in swanky spot, close to the beach and on a waterway similar to the intracoastal in South Florida, with a large marina, but with 50 to 100+ story buildings all about). It was a very nice building and close to shops and restaurants and the marina walk, but there was construction going on 24 / 7, and it really kicked in at 7am, so sleeping in was not an option (neither was relaxing on the spacious balcony with ocean and marina views, unless you enjoy watching high rise cranes move about and the soothing sounds of a jack hammer). The other residents of the building were seemingly 95% young professionals, from Europe, Australia and USA (this is probably the case at just about any new reasonably priced Marina or Old Town building). Many major law firm associates seem to live in Old Town (which is ironically very new), near the base of the Burj Dubai (tallest building in the world (near completion).

Housing allowances – If you come to Dubai expecting the wonderfully large housing allowances of Hong Kong or Tokyo, for example, you are going to be mighty disappointed. You can expect no more than $30,000 US per year and most firms figure out the housing / expat / cola allowance on case by case basis for each lateral hire or internal transfer (in other words, firms will make sure you come out ahead of your take home pay from whichever market you are being hired from). At most firms, you will need to negotiate your cola. Keep in mind though that there is 0% tax in Dubai and thus US persons will pay no income taxes on the first $87,500 earned each year (number will go up slightly each year). Further, US persons can spend up to approx. $42,000 on housing each year tax free. Thus there is, in effect, a 0% tax liability on the first approx. $130,000 earned annually. However, it is the 0% income tax in Dubai that drives down the cola / expat / housing packages for associates. This is because firms can and routinely do bring in associates from England, Canada, Australia and China, among other nationalities (many of these have US JDs as well) who are obviously thrilled with 0% income tax (who wouldn’t be?) and don’t have any need for any cola adjustment.

Read more, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Asia Chronicles: The Dubai Life”

view from dubia.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 Dubai at my suite in the Burj Al Arab, in the first week of another month-long visit this stunning city. I just finished perusing through my usual daily go to websites for industry information, such as ATL and LawDragon.com. To my surprise, LawDragon.com just published a top 100 law firm consultants list, and named me as one of 15 recruiters, and the only Asia and Middle East focused recruiter, on the list (my shameless plug for the day). This tops off what has been another great day, here in Dubai.

Ever have one of those days when everything seems to go right? If you want to improve your chances for the perfect day, I suggest you check into the Burj Al, for pampering fit for a king. A few days ago, my wife and I checked into the smallest category of rooms at the Burj – a two story suite no less, complete with grand staircase, 6 person hot tub, two living room areas, two bathrooms (each big enough to be small hotel rooms) a fully equiped office, stunning views, and oh yes, the 24 hour butler (complete with tuxedo and coat tails), and BMW 7 and driver at your disposal.

To give you an idea of why this hotel deserves its claim of 7 star service, here is one example of many: Last night my wife and I invited over for drinks some of my associate friends from Gibson Dunn’s Dubai office (who are very happily employed, by the way, which is no surprise as the managing partner of their office is one of the most well regarded and nicest people in the business), as well as an old college buddy who happens to be in town. We met at the Sky View lounge on the 27th floor and had some drinks. After being there for about an hour, a bathroom attendant shows up to our table with a small package of breath mints. Strange, I thought, but no big deal, right?

Later, I found out that one of our guests had asked the lounge restroom attendant for a breath mint. No? No biggie. Turns out, the restroom attendant had a different take on the importance in this mint request and promptly made a call to our butler down on the 19th floor, who went down to the lobby to find some mints. Being that it was after 1am (and the middle of Ramadan) there was not much open down there, so the butler called up our suite’s chauffeur on call and the driver promptly drove off to pick up some mints from the nearby Jumeirah Beach sister hotel. The butler then gave about the nicest looking package of mints I have ever seen to the restroom attendant up in the lounge, so he could finally offer a mint to my friend.

But you have to hear about the suite, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Asia Chronicles: What is a Dubai?”

Singapore skyline 2.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.]
Here we sit in Hong Kong, midway through our semiannual review and survey of the major law firm market here. While we normally have someone on the ground here in Hong Kong, only twice a year are both authors of this column in town gathering and compiling the latest and greatest information about who is hiring, who is firing, and what people expect for the future. Given the state of the current global economy and most U.S. legal hiring markets, we were somewhat anxious about what we might find as a result of this survey. We know that our business has seen positive trends this year in Asia, but a valid survey needs to include data not only on our business, but the overall hiring picture for our clients. We are pleased to be able to report, preliminarily, that things look good. While we have detected a note of caution among some of our clients, the outlook on the whole is positive. Most firms remain busy, even if not at as frenetic a pace as in 2007.
With regard to why and how we conduct this survey, we need to provide a few prefatory notes. First, we do not conduct this survey solely to determine firm needs. We are constantly learning about firms’ prospective needs throughout the year. This survey has a selfish reason for being: we want to determine, first of all, whether our market share is increasing or decreasing. It is impossible to determine market share without knowing the overall level of hiring in a market and in the individual firms. By way of example, the importance of having placed five attorneys in a given office of a single firm is impossible to know without also knowing that the firm has hired ten lateral associates in total over the same period. We also want to know whether, using the same example, the other five associates hired were placed by our competitors and, if so, which ones. Taken over a period of years, this data gives us insight into whether what we are doing is working.
Read more, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Asia Chronicles: Surveying the Asia Markets”

Hong Kong skyline daytime Asia Chronicles.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 at asia at kinneyrecruiting dot com.]
Last week we discussed some of the things law firm partners seek when staffing their overseas outposts in Asia. To be a successful associate, you need an entrepreneurial spirit, a high level of maturity for your experience level, and an outgoing personality (i.e., not overly academic). You should should be well put-together, presenting as little obvious risk of being a prima donna as possible. How do you know for yourself whether you cut the mustard under these factors — and how do you make it clear to those who interview you that you do?
Successful overseas lawyers have a high degree of entrepreneurial spirit. Let’s face it: you earn a few points just by being willing to leave the comfort of your life in the U.S. or U.K. and move overseas to Asia. Beyond this, law firm partners try to look at your past to determine your future. Were you a competitive athlete, moot court competitor, or actual entrepreneur at some point in your life? If you were, it’s important to bring this out in your resume and cover letter, as well as in your interviews, because these are experiences common among entrepreneurs. If you had experience prior to law school with scientific research, on the other hand, realize this sort of experience can signal to an astute interviewer that you may be happiest in a comfortable role, without much risk, and the rewards of sticking your neck out in the fast-paced world of Asian finance might not be strong motivators for you.
More information, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Asia Chronicles: Demonstrating Your Desirability”

Hong Kong Island.jpg
[Disclosure: 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 at asia at kinneyrecruiting dot com.]
In an earlier article the Asia Corporate Lawyers (the prior authors of this column) discussed what life is like when you are an associate in Asia from their own perspectives. This week we are going to discuss what partners at U.S. or U.K. firms’ Asia offices seek when they are considering U.S. associate candidates. These topics are related in that the partners who interview candidates typically are looking to identify the people who will be most happy not only with the work that is presented by the Asia practice, but also with the style of practice and with their lives outside the office.
Interviewing for an overseas position at any busy U.S. law firm or with the U.S. practice group of a UK firm is a bit different from interviewing for a spot in a domestic market for the same firm. As with any interview process, the gating factors at top U.S. practices in Asia are academics and law firm experience. Without impressive grades and top firm experience, you generally won’t be considered. But overseas partners are also looking for the right personality fit much more so than in a large domestic office. A major reason for this is because the offices are much smaller overseas, making it harder to hide a misfit (even a junior associate can be the face of the firm), but there are other reasons as well.
At a basic level, the factors that are especially important to demonstrate in an interview overseas are these:

  • you have an entrepreneurial nature;
  • you have a high level of maturity for your experience level;
  • you have an outgoing personality (not overly “academic” in nature);
  • you are able to fit in with different cultures;
  • your personal presentation is generally positive; and
  • you are a team player (no prima donnas need apply)

These are obviously all factors that are relevant in any interview at least as “plus factors”, but what follows is a discussion of why these particular factors are especially important in this environment. In our next article, we will discuss ways in which you can demonstrate (or fail to demonstrate) that you qualify based on your resume and interview performance. Some of our experience in this regard has been amusing as well as frustrating.
Read more, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Asia Chronicles: Interview Tips”

Singapore skyline.jpg[Disclosure: This post is authored not by the Asia Corporate Lawyers, but 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 at asia at kinneyrecruiting dot com.]
On Monday we discussed some positive trends in M&A in Asia, notwithstanding the turmoil in credit markets and overall economic downturn globally. Today, we discuss very briefly some of the lateral hiring trends we have been seeing in Asia recently and in ’08 in general.
We have not seen an overall reduction in hiring of U.S. associates in Asia, but firms have been much more selective than in ’07. This is for a variety of reasons. Some notable U.S. and British firms in Asia are hiring at a significantly slower clip than in ’07, but this unfortunate trend is being balanced out by other peer firms hiring significantly more than in ’07. There are a number of firms in heavy expansion mode, with several top U.S. firms in Hong Kong / China, for example, that will easily double the size of their offices in ’08. Some U.S. firms in Asia have very aggressive medium-term (5-6 year) expansion plans to have 100+ attorney offices. Interestingly, and perhaps surprisingly to readers, some of the most urgent needs still happen to be for mid-level to senior U.S. securities associates, despite the slower pace of capital-markets deal flow coming in.
It is important to note that in ’08, there are as much as three to four times as many U.S. associate candidates on the market for Asia positions, compared to ’07. Firms can afford to be a lot more selective and also can take their time with hiring decisions, much more than was the case in the frenzied hiring environment in Asia in ’07. While we are seeing the same pace of hiring in the Asia markets in ’08 that we saw in ’07, it has become a more difficult market to break into for some U.S. associates than was the case in ’07.
Read more, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Asia Chronicles: A Look at Current Hiring Trends”

Asia Asian law blogger blawg Above the Law blog.jpg[Ed. note / Disclosure: Please note that this post is authored not by the Asia Corporate Lawyers but 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.]
This week, we are going to very briefly discuss the state of the market for major law firms in Asia, with a focus on M&A, and with our usual slant towards Hong Kong / China (as that is where the majority of the hiring is taking place these days). In future editions of the Asia Chronicles, we plan to eventually devote an article to all the major practice areas in Asia, as well as each major Asia market generally (e.g., Tokyo, Shanghai, Beijing, Singapore and Hong Kong).
Notwithstanding the global economic slowdown, most of our U.S. associate friends in Asia remain busy. Some, including the authors of prior installments of the Asia Chronicles, are as busy as ever. They are so slammed, in fact, that these poor writers don’t have time to pen the Asia Chronicles this week (as well as some of the past several weeks — or do their laundry, for that matter). But that is another story for another day, when we focus more on quality of life for U.S. associates in Asia.
So while we are authoring this week’s edition of the Chronicles, as an emergency fill-in, we thought it best to provide our readers with some very basic information and facts about the topic at hand.
A number of U.S. and British firms in Asia, especially in Hong Kong / China, are actively building up their M&A practices. This is no surprise when considering current and projected market conditions. In fact, a survey just completed this month by Simmons & Simmons of 200 CEOs and CFOs of leading companies in the Asia Pacific region shows that 91% of the respondents believe that the level of M&A activity will increase or remain the same over the next twelve months, with over two-thirds of respondents believing M&A activity across the Asia-Pacific region will increase over that time frame, and with 87% of respondents believing that there will be increased M&A activity in China in the next twelve months.
Read more, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Asia Chronicles: Focus on M&A”

Asian language translation Asia language speakers ATL.jpgIn the last three installments of the Asia Chronicles, we’ve written about the perks and the (possible) disadvantages of working as a lawyer in Asia. We have been trying to give you a better idea of what it’s like to work over here and to help you decide if moving to Asia might be an option that you would like to explore.
But many of you have contacted us saying that you need to hear no more, you’re already convinced. You want to know what kind of skills American firms in Asia are looking for, and how to go about finding a job in this part of the world.
The most common question we get on this topic is about language ability: “How much of a difference will language skills, or lack thereof, make in the marketability of a job candidate?” As lawyers, none of you should be surprised that we can only answer this question with more questions:
1. How high is your language level, really?
We’ve seen a lot of job seekers come into our offices with resumes that describe their language skills as “proficient” or even “fluent,” but when we ask them even a basic question in that language, they often struggle to answer. In general, a few years of college language classes does not a fluent speaker make, and even people who have spent significant time immersed in a language environment rarely have learned the legal and business terminology that would be needed for common tasks such as reading due diligence documents, participating in a drafting session, or negotiating a comfort letter. Unless you are a native or legitimately fluent speaker, your language skills will honestly not be of much use to a law firm, and therefore will not balance out deficiencies in the core strengths of a candidate, such as graduating from a top-ranked law school with high grades or having valuable work experience.
That said, a glance at the attorney roster of many selective law firms in Asia reveals some lawyers with lower than average credentials but strong language and culture experience (time spent in the U.S. State Department is a common theme) that seems to have gotten them hired. However, having some lesser level of language ability could make a marginal difference with an otherwise qualified candidate because it may help convince a law firm that you are interested in and capable of living in a certain country and interacting well with people from that culture.
2. Do you really want to be hired based on your language ability?
One of the first hard truths that we learned after spending some time working in Asia is that having language skills might not always be something you want to advertise. We’ve seen many native and fluent speakers relegated to countless hours of foreign language documentary due diligence or translation because no one else in the office was capable of doing it. One of our colleagues has even been keeping her language ability a secret so that she can avoid being staffed on such mind-numbing projects. Lawyers who can speak and understand but cannot read or write (or at least pretend they can’t) have the advantage of being able to participate in the comparatively more interesting client meetings and negotiation while avoiding less enjoyable tasks.
Read more, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Asia Chronicles: Walking the Walk, Talking the Talk”

Page 10 of 101...678910