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Indigenous firms in Asia’s emerging legal markets keep making headway on head count. Chinese firms continue to hold the lead in total lawyers in Asia, but top firms in Korea and India have also expanded by leaps and bounds, raising their numbers by more than 65% since 2011, when the Asia 50 survey debuted. That far outpaces firms in Singapore and Australia, where growth has been much more modest.

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As a group, the 2019 Asia 50—the largest law firms based in the Asia-Pacific region—are home to 59,925 lawyers, up 5.6% from a year ago. That represents a relatively small step forward after last year’s Asia 50 showed a 20% leap in head count. The top of the ranking remains largely unchanged: Dentons and Yingke lead the Asia 50 with 9,795 and 7,572 global lawyers, respectively. In addition to those firms, 10 others from China, as well as Australia’s Ashurst (1,415), reported head counts of more than 1,000 lawyers last year.

To compile the Asia 50 rankings, we ask firms based in the Asia-Pacific to provide full-time equivalents for 2018. We rely on information from the NLJ 500 for U.S. firms’ Asia-Pacific head counts and from Legal Week’s U.K. Top 50 for those of British firms. Firms’ nationalities are based on the market where they have the most lawyers. Ashurst, for example, is an Australian firm and ranked on the indigenous firm chart, while Herbert Smith Freehills is a U.K. firm and listed on the global firm chart, despite both firms sharing English and Australian roots.

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Anna Zhang

Anna Zhang is the Hong Kong-based Asia Bureau Chief for Law.com International. She writes about lawyers and legal issues across Asia. Her coverage includes the business of law, global and domestic law firms, in-house legal departments and regulatory issues. She can be reached at [email protected]

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