At roughly the same time that Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Joe Biden were meeting at the G-20 summit in Bali, Indonesia last week, important stories about Asian law firms were in the news. The timing was fitting. As the Asia Pacific continues to increase in importance politically and economically, law firms in the region are growing in size and stature. This may be a good time for the U.S.- and Euro-centric legal industry to pay more attention to the rise of Asian law firms.
Let’s start with China. Over the past 18 months, China-based law firms have poached scores of senior lawyers from international law firms. Law.com International Asia Editor Jessica Seah writes that at least 36 senior lawyers recently left international law firms for China practices. They include the head of the Greater China practice of the U.S. firm Blank Rome and DLA Piper’s former head of China. Lawyers from top U.S. and U.K. firms such as Morrison & Foerster, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Jones Day and Allen & Overy have jumped to Chinese firms. Even Kirkland & Ellis lost a private equity partner to a Chinese firm.