Tweet Share Whatsapp Email Written by Katherine Ng, Consultant at Lewis Sanders Since China’s reopening and the removal of covid restrictions and quarantine earlier this year, markets and businesses have not experienced the swift, economic rebound many were expecting to see in this quarter. Traditionally, recruitment also tends to be lighter during this quarter with many lawyers away from the office during the summer holidays. In spite of this, lateral partner moves amongst the law firms has continued, particularly in the corporate space. M&A specialist, Alex Bidlake, left Linklaters after 15 years to join Clifford Chance, whilst Norton Rose Fulbright hired IPO partner, Ethan Chen, from Kirkland & Ellis. Roger Cheng returned to private practice as a partner with Linklaters after over 4 years with the SFC. In the funds arena, Ren Yong left Proskauer Rose, where he was partner for 10 years, for Stephenson Harwood. Within disputes, partner Ivan Chang joined Reynolds Porter Chamberlain from Addleshaw Goddard. A number of counsels also made the step up to partnership as a result of a move this quarter. Alison Lee moved as a partner to Mayer Brown from her previous role as international counsel at Debevoise & Plimpton. Disputes specialist, Adrian Elms, also joined CMS from DLA Piper, where he was previously of counsel. Other moves worth noting include experienced banking veteran, Nicholas Chua, joining Dentons as a partner from his previous role as Head of Legal for North Asia at CIMB Bank, as well as Paul Haswell, joining K&L Gates after a short stay at Seyfarth Shaw. With more law firms supporting the Greater Bay Area initiative, we’ve seen more partners opting to leave UK / US firms for PRC firms. From Herbert Smith Freehills – three partners, Tom Chau, Wang Zhong and Isaac Chen, joined the corporate team at Haiwen & Partners and will be splitting their time between the Beijing and Hong Kong offices. Hallam Chow and Boya Shen of Mayer Brown, previously head of the China projects practice and director of projects, respectively, joined Haiwen & Partners, as well. Further, Melissa Kaye Pang, president of the Law Society of Hong Kong between 2018 and 2021 joined PRC firm, East & Concord. Although the firm currently operates via their offices in Shenzhen and Guangzhou, it has applied to open in Hong Kong. Firms continue to take a conservative approach to hiring whilst they assess both pipelines and strategy with the year coming to an end soon. We have seen an increase in firms expressing an interest in considering strong M&A partner profiles with a portable book. However, many firms have not retained all their trainee solicitors and have offered temporary contract roles as paralegals, instead. Associate recruitment remained relatively stable, with firms mainly hiring in certain niche specialties such as financial services regulatory, restructuring and insolvency, employment and intellectual property / technology. The demand for funds lawyers continues for offshore law firms and only very strong candidates with Chinese language skills will be considered for onshore roles. Capital market roles remain inactive and law firms are cautiously reviewing the utilization rate of their fee earners. A small selection of US law firms, particularly those heavily weighted towards capital markets work, have begun to reduce their office sizes in APAC. Proskauer Rose has closed its Beijing office and now maintains a one-lawyer office in Hong Kong, down from previously having 16. Latham & Watkins has also reduced their Greater China operations this quarter by consolidating their Shanghai office with their Beijing office.