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.


[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 four years. You can reach them by email: asia at kinneyrecruiting dot com.]

Evan here. Please check out our daily blog at www.theasiachronicles.com where we will have more posts than those that appear here. Today, for example, we have this post and also a post from Alexis Lamb regarding the Singapore market – “Singapore Swing.”

Please note that Robert Kinney and I will be working from our Hong Kong offices for a few weeks later this month and can be available for meetings with our readers then. Alexis, of course, is based permanently in Hong Kong.

Three Quick hits of the day (a new feature at theasiachronicles.com): One US firm in Hong Kong now has an expat / cola allowance of over $90,000 for single associates and over $100,000 for married associates; Almost every strong US cap markets practice in HK / China is hiring lateral associates now; It has recently become more common for US and UK firms in Singapore to offer an expat / cola allowance, albeit much smaller than in HK (for years, most firms offered no allowance in Singapore).

While interviewing for a US associate position in Asia can be quite different from interviewing for a spot down the street in New York or another major domestic market there are also some similarities to a job search in any domestic market. The key determining factors on whether you will have a chance at interviewing are top firm experience and impressive law school academics. The other obvious factor determining whether you will be asked to interview, at least for most positions in Asia, is language skills (Mandarin, Korean, Japanese).

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Asia Chronicles: INTERVIEWING FOR ASIA US ASSOCIATE POSITIONS – WHAT HIRING PARTNERS ARE LOOKING FOR IN A CANDIDATE”


[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 four years. You can reach them by email: asia at kinneyrecruiting dot com.]

Evan here. As we have been predicted would happen in past posts, a sizzling biglaw US associate lateral hiring boom has arrived in Hong Kong / China for the first quarter ’11. We expect this hiring boom to continue until spring, with hiring being steady afterwards but dropping to more normal levels.

A “perfect storm” has developed, causing many US and UK firms in Hong Kong / China to have multiple US corporate / cap markets urgent openings at one time now.

A lot of these top firms in Hong Kong / China have been understaffed since late 2009. When the global recession went into full swing in late 2008, the downturn had started to seriously affect biglaw deal flow in China (about a year after negative effects were felt in US and other Western markets), with IPOs coming to a stop. There was misguided concern at the time that because China had some dependence on US exports for its economy to be fully fueled, China would be heading into a bubble-busting down turn, even much worse than what was taking place in the US. However, in mid-’09, deal flow in China was booming again, fueled in large part by China’s own consumer economy expanding rapidly. This was no surprise to many of us who have observed China for several years. After all, 2009 was the year that China over took the US in new cars purchased annually, China overtook India in gold purchased annually, and the Asia Pacific Region overtook North America in daily commercial flights. double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Asia Chronicles: As Predicted, The HK / China Mini Hiring Boom Has Begun”


[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 four years. You can reach them by email: asia at kinneyrecruiting dot com.]

Evan Jowers here, with a quick post before the New Year holiday. As you know from our recent posts, Robert Kinney and I have continued our pattern this year of traveling to Hong Kong / China to meet personally with clients and learn of openings (six trips each this year – ouch). Alexis Lamb of course is permanently based in our Hong Kong office and Yuliya Vinokurova travels to Asia periodically from her base in Russia. As a result of our availability to firms and more importantly our success in placing more US attorneys in Asia than any other recruiting firm, we are on top of many US associate openings at present in Hong Kong/China.

As you know from recent posts, we have many current openings for Mandarin fluent cap markets and M&A US associates (too numerous to list here). As the year winds to a close, we wanted to list in one place a description of some of our more unusual openings for US associates at top US and UK firms in Hong Kong / China:

Hong Kong – native Korean fluent private equity fund formation US associate; 2 to 5 years experience

Shanghai – native Mandarin fluent IP transactional US associate; mid to senior level

Hong Kong or Singapore – US securities / high yield / M&A mix US associate (English only ok); 4 to 7 years experience (the successful candidate will have his/her choice of Hong Kong or Singapore location)

Hong Kong – native Korean fluent private equity M&A US associate; 2 to 6 years experience

Hong Kong, Beijing or Shanghai – native Mandarin fluent US senior capital markets associate for counsel or partner role (several openings); very senior associate with top firm experience in China and NYC preferred

Hong Kong – native Korean fluent project finance US associate; 3 to 6 years experience

Beijing – native Mandarin fluent finance associate; junior to mid-level (multiple openings) double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Asia Chronicles: Hong Kong / China Openings; Hiring Boom In First Quarter ’11?”


[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 four years. You can reach them by email: asia at kinneyrecruiting dot com.]

Evan here. If you are a transactional associate at a top US firm and your name happens to be of Asian origin, especially of Chinese background, then you are probably receiving multiple cold calls per day from recruiters. After all the Asia lateral biglaw markets, especially HK / China are red hot now and it is of course very easy to compile a list of top US firm associates with Asian names.

Keep in mind that there can be very negative consequences in giving control of such an important career move and job search to someone calling you out of the blue (no matter how many times they may call). We often get calls from very well qualified US associates with sad tales of at worst their resume being plastered unauthorized all over China or other Asia markets; or at best only authorized submissions (thankfully) but realizing their recruiter has done little more than emailing their resume to begin with and is unresponsive for weeks.

It is important to note that your resume is a very valuable commodity to recruiters calling you. When you are placed at a law firm, the recruiter who submitted your resume is typically paid (by the law firm) 25 to 30% of your starting base salary. Thus, the recruiters cold-calling you have a big incentive to get a hold of your resume and email it to law firms, with or without your authorization (believe it or not, some biglaw recruiters in Asia are known to be even less ethical than the worst of the lot in the US). Once your resume has been submitted to a law firm, the recruiter who did so “owns” your candidacy there for at least six months. Further, when your resume has been submitted without your authorization, it will take an affidavit from you to the target firm explaining such for the submission to be reversed (and basically that is you explaining to the firm that you did not know you even applied there, which can of course cool off any motivation of that firm to continue to want to interview you, and the unethical recruiter is counting on you to thus not take that route).

We try to think that a lot of recruiters do not take such unethical steps, but please note that even the most well-intentioned recruiters trying to break into the Asia markets are more often than not woefully inexperienced with such lateral placements (and even most of those with some experience have never been more than resume pushers). double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Asia Chronicles: Be Careful With Cold-Callers”


[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 four years. You can reach them by email: asia at kinneyrecruiting dot com.]

Evan here. Robert Kinney and I just returned from another China trip and we will post market notes from that trip shortly at our blog, theasiachronicles.com.

As you know, we are often quoted and / or featured in various industry publications regarding our US biglaw attorney recruiting and market expertise in Asia. This month, find us in the cover story of the latest California Lawyer magazine. Also, if you don’t mind plucking down the 295 sterling for the brand new book, Building A Profitable Practice In Asia, by Robert Sawhney, just published by Ark Group, you will notice that Robert, Alexis and I were asked to write Chapter 22 (“Staffing an Asia Practice – Recent History and Trends”).

On our recent China trip (we are in Hong Kong / China about every other month and several times a year in other Asia markets), as usual, we were often asked by senior partners at US and UK firms how exactly do we manage to place the majority of their US associate lateral hires and in general represent so many of the top US trained candidates on the market.

Although Robert is based in Austin and my primary home is in Miami, we do manage to have a large market share in Hong Kong / China and Asia in general. Further, we do have a full time recruiter based in our HK offices – Alexis Lamb, who has been with us for two years (previously I placed her at Linklaters HK some years ago). It is not really rocket science what we do and what we offer law firm and lawyer clients. Here is the very basic gist of things re what we offer US associate candidates moving to or within Asia:

  • We can provide 50+ very positive references fairly quickly of US associates we have recently placed in Asia, which is something no other recruiting firm can do (they can’t do it because they have not made more than just a fraction of that amount of US associate placements in Asia).

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Asia Chronicles: Why Kinney Dominates Market Share of US Associate Placements in HK / China; Recent HK / China Placements”


[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 four years. You can reach them by email: asia at kinneyrecruiting dot com.]

Evan here. Please note that Robert Kinney and I will be back in Hong Kong all next week for meetings. Although our schedule is tight, we can fit in some meetings with prospective biglaw or in-house candidates. Feel free to reach out to us at asia@kinneyrecruiting.com.

In just the past few weeks, we have seen a noticeable rise in the expat / cola allowances for US associates at some of the most competitive group of US and UK firms in HK / China. In fact , it appears that for the first time $80,000 may be taking hold as the eventual standard in HK / China. For the past several years, while there were anywhere from zero to four firms paying as much as $80,000 expat / cola for associates with no children, most of the top US and UK firms remained in the $60,000 to $65,000 allowance range. The competitive range continues to be $60,000 to $80,000, but more firms are at the top of that range than ever before in HK / China. Further, two top US firms pay $90,000 expat / cola (although one of those has tax equalization on the base).

While there has been already a trend in ‘10 for a number of the US and UK firms with less competitive expat / cola allowances to step it up (see http://www.theasiachronicles.com/archives/2264), there has until very recently not been much movement in the competitive group, most of which have allowances in the mid $60,000’s (keep in mind that many major US and UK firms are still not in that competitive expat allowance range of $60,000 plus, but the size of that group is becoming smaller). double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Asia Chronicles: EXPAT ALLOWANCES ARE GOING UP AT THE TOP END IN HK / CHINA”


[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 four years. You can reach them by email: asia at kinneyrecruiting dot com.]

Evan here. It continues to be a very busy year for lateral biglaw associate and partner hiring in Hong Kong / China. Further we have noticed that in HK, BJ and SHG there is more enthusiasm coming from US, UK and PRC firm partners, regarding the market, than we have seen since mid ’07. You can tell a big difference in enthusiasm by simply going to meetings in firm offices in those markets. Earlier this year, while it was a boom, there was optimism, but much more cautioned and guarded. Sure, the IPO boom at its current pace in China is not sustainable forever, but there is much less concern of a bubble burst or other type of economic downturn. Frankly, Hong Kong has become the market of choice for many major international companies and banks to have IPOs, with many choosing HK over NYC and London. Needless to say, US firms are going to be in and expand in HK / China for a long time. Offices are turning from outposts to much more substantial and strategic parts of US firms, globally.

Our Asia team is so busy, we have fallen behind on fully launching our new theasiachronicles.com blog and we apologize for that. Starting this weekend, we will have daily original posts, as promised (to go along with the numerous daily biglaw asia news posts).

For our readers in NYC who would like to meet us, please note that Robert and I will be in NYC again October 20 to 22. I will be back in China in a few weeks for meetings, as well as trying to catch the last days of the World Expo in Shanghai. Alexis is of course based in Hong Kong and Yuliya is based in Russia (not really Asia, but part of our Asia team nonetheless). double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Asia Chronicles: VERY HOT LATERAL MARKET CONTINUES IN ASIA – OPENINGS LISTED HERE”

[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.]

Notes Regarding Recent News from Hong Kong/China

Greetings to our readers. Robert Kinney here. I’m fresh from a visit to our Hong Kong office, where Evan Jowers and I had a big week with literally dozens of client meetings over 10 days. It is difficult to conceive of for most of our readers who are not in Hong Kong/China already, but the legal market there is red-hot. It is probably hotter in many ways than in the boom-times of 2006-2007. The pockets of activity are more hidden than before though, and the requirements are much tougher.

Evan Jowers will be speaking this evening (Monday, September 27, 2010) from 7:30 to 9:30 PM at NYU’s Vanderbilt Hall (40 Washington Square South, Room 204) as part of a panel discussion on the best strategy to land a job in the current job market in Asia. As always, we are grateful to the US-China Legal Exchange Foundation, as well as well as the NYU Asia Law Society and the NYU APALSA for the opportunity to speak as part of this panel. Any of our readers who are located in New York and are interested in hearing the latest information about the job market in Asia, particularly Hong Kong/China, please feel free to attend the discussion. It will certainly be instructive.

For the benefit of those readers who are not in New York but are still interested to hear what has changed in Asia, I have the following notes regarding current openings. Please feel free to follow up with me if you have any questions or want to drill into deeper into the needs described:

• Many of our clients are looking for Hong Kong qualified capital markets associates. The most impressive mid-levels to seniors in HK are now perhaps in more demand than any other group of biglaw associates, due to the current trend of top US firms building HK local practices (we know of two US firms about to make announcements regarding lateral HK partner hires).

• A number of our clients want US capital markets associates; several of these offer a mix of M&A and capital markets work. double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Asia Chronicles: Quick Notes”

HK Local Practices Being Built at US Firms

The growing importance of Hong Kong as not only a gateway to China and Southeast Asia, but also as a regional financial center in its own right, has compelled many foreign firms to add a Hong Kong local practice. For the last two years, Hong Kong has been the world’s leading IPO center (surpassing New York and London) and clients are increasingly seeking one firm to handle both the US and Hong Kong side of the IPO. Even General Motors was reported to have seriously considered a Hong Kong listing along with its planned NYSE/Toronto listings, only to drop the idea in part because of Hong Kong’s more restrictive listing requirements. Hong Kong is already the preferred market for international share offerings by China’s behemoth state-owned enterprises, which previously might have considered listing in Europe or the US.

Not all US firms will see an immediate need to acquire a Hong Kong practice as long as they continue to land major deals because of the participation of their US clients (mainly US-based financial institutions) in Asia-based transactions. Yet, as long as Hong Kong continues to be the world’s IPO leader and Asia continues its financial dominance, there will be pressure on foreign firms to add a Hong Kong arm to their practice.

Furthermore, a US firm adding a Hong Kong practice to an already strong US law practice is a throwing down of the gauntlet, so to speak – a signal to the more-established Magic Circle firms that they are committed to Asia and intend to be “all in” as a major regional player. In response, some British firms in Hong Kong have recently invested heavily in expanding their already strong US practice in Hong Kong, with Allen & Overy being a perfect example. double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Asia Chronicles: BIGLAW HIRING TRENDS IN ASIA”


[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 four years. You can reach them by email: asia at kinneyrecruiting dot com.]

** Check out our new daily Asia biglaw blog at THEASIACHRONICLES.COM! *

Evan here. Senior cap markets associates at top US firms who are native Chinese have never been as marketable in HK / China as they are today. While such persons have over the past five years always had attractive HK /China options at US and UK firms, as well as in-house, in ’10 we have seen these opportunities expand and improve (more clear shot to partner opportunities than usual) significantly. Further, this may be a relatively small window of time, one to two years perhaps, where these clear shot to partner positions are available in such relative abundance (a handful available at one time, versus zero to one usually at any given time).

To clarify, a clear shot to partner opportunity is one where a business case already exists at a new hire’s new firm for that person to make equity partner. In other words, there is already an equity partner slot open and pegged for such new hire. Of course the senior associate / counsel / salary partner will have to perform, but there is already plenty of deals for that person to execute and the only variable (baring a catastrophe in the market) to making equity partner is that person’s performance, rather than the many variables outside of one’s control that almost always come into play for equity partner promotion (even in the most realistic and strong partnership tracks, there is most usually not already a business case for a new hire to make partner before he / she joins the firm and the business case can be in part made by the new hire’s performance, but also even more usually relies on supervising partners’ and / or new hire’s ability to expand the current practice). double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Asia Chronicles: Golden Opportunities for Native Chinese Senior Cap Markets Associates”

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