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.