Asia Pacific Legal Market Digest – Q2 Summary 2023

4th July 2023

A legal market summary of the past quarter; an honest assessment of market activity, trends, and active opportunities in the APAC legal markets.

Legal Market Digest

As we approach the second half of the calendar year it is fair to say law firms within the Asia Pacific region are only looking forwards and are feeling positive about what’s on the horizon. Why such positivity? Well, to fully assess we need to look at the market over the past 6 months.

Several law firms saw a large drop-off in workflow at the turn of the year and that continues to be the case with many transactional matters stemming from ongoing 2022 business. With corporate work in a quieter period, we’ve seen a greater number of opportunities for lawyers in other practices such as restructuring & insolvency and investigations/anti-corruption.

The market has generally seen more partner moves throughout Q1 and Q2 with firms looking to those with business to continue to expand the firm, while opportunities for associates have been limited. Couple that with firm layoffs, there are a lot of associates looking for work with few options on the table.

Despite all the downs over the past few months, lawyers have reason to be optimistic heading into Q3. From our conversations with partners at multiple law firms there is a general feeling that workflow will pick up come September. With many law firms in APAC wanting to grow substantially over the next 5 years there are going to be plenty of opportunities for associates right around the corner, particularly when the work starts flowing again. Law firms continue to opportunistically look out for Partners looking to explore a new venture across all locations in the APAC market.

We urge those looking for a new job to be patient with the market, there is a new role ready and waiting for you.

Location Specific Summaries


Singapore continues to experience an increased amount of work coming in from Greater China, couple that up with the continuous workflow in Indonesia and Vietnam Singapore’s market certainly has the potential to be busiest as we head into the second half of the year. Hiring is still not at the forefront of a lot of firms’ minds with a continued cautious approach and every firm seemingly looking to hire into a different team. Generally, appetite for senior associates and counsel across finance, projects, & R&I are the most sought after. A few firms are also on the lookout for partners carrying large books of business.


Outbound transactions continue to be on the slimmer side with more firms experiencing a heavier workload for their Japanese lawyers due to the increased investment into Japan. As such, several firms are looking out for Bengoshi across multiple practice areas, presenting an excellent opportunity to lateral or make a step up. The legal market in Japan is only getting larger and that is reflected by several firms’ interest in bringing in partners and even full teams to help grow out the relatively small offices at present. Foreign qualified attorneys interested in Japan are urged to get in touch because as soon as that workflow picks up there is going to be a lot of interest in overseas hires. We are also currently looking out for any aviation finance lawyers interested in moving to Japan.


June has been a little slower in Australia compared to previous months due to internal performance reviews and teams assessing their needs for the year ahead. From our conversations, we’re generally seeing an increased appetite for senior associates and special counsel, going against the norm of the usual hiring market in Australia. This is true across both the East & West Coast. Practice area demand varies depending on the firm. Some have had a drop-off in transactional work, however, have seen an increased load on their disputes teams. While other firms are seeking to grow their corporate and finance teams to help create more work for the disputes teams!

Greater China

Certainly, our most unsteady market at the moment with an increasing amount of firm lay-offs (generally US firms) and several lawyers who are returning from the US due to unsuccessfully obtaining the H-1B visa; the market has a lot of lawyers looking for jobs in a vacancy-short market. Corporate & capital markets lawyers have seen a really slow work flow over the past 6 months with hopes that will change towards the end of the year. Mid-level lawyers are generally sought after in the litigation and investigations space, particularly if they’ve spent a couple years in the US.

To find out more about opportunities within the APAC markets, please be sure to connect with out lead APAC Consultant, Adam Smith.