HONG KONG’S legal services market is humming and as a result the recruitment market is also enjoying an upsurge.
Although lawyers with a specific skill set, including proficiency in written and spoken Mandarin or Cantonese and experience in corporate areas at a top tier law firm, are highly sought after, there are also significant opportunities for English-speaking lawyers. Which is good news for Australians looking to capitalise on the higher salaries and low tax rate available in Hong Kong.
Liz Rooke, national manager for Hays Legal, said there had been an increased requirement for language skills across the board in Hong Kong, with an increase of China-related work being conducted. “That is as apparent in-house as it is in private practice,” she said.
“However there are still excellent opportunities for people [without language skills] from junior to senior.”
The recruitment agency has responded to the increased activity in Hong Kong and China, and indeed the general boom throughout Asia, by opening an office in Central Hong Kong.
“They will be recruiting for Asia generally, for both law firms and in-house,” Rooke said. “We have already got the majority of international firms there covered anyway, and a lot of the firms have arms in the US, so we are already well-networked there.
“It was a natural progression for us and an indication of the way the market has grown in Asia.”
Rooke said the Hong Kong office would be working closely with both the Australian and UK offices to fill the requirements for lawyers in the various jurisdictions.
Head of Naiman Clarke’s Asia desk, Andrew Cleary, said despite the increase in China-related work, the general upturn in activity in Hong Kong meant firms were taking a more flexible approach in terms of language skills. “It’s a shortage of lawyers, not of work, so they are now saying ‘let’s get the people on the ground.’ A lot of the work in Hong Kong is for English speakers.
He said as well as China and local Hong Kong work, there was work being funnelled through Hong Kong from throughout Asia. “As the economy gets healthier and healthier there is only going to be more demand for really high calibre legal services.”