Asian Legal Market?

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Re: Asian Legal Market?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun May 02, 2010 3:06 pm

chris888777 wrote:Trust me, you do NOT need to know Mandarin to practice law/do business/or live in Singapore. English is not only the preferred language but really the only language used in public.


Same is true in Taiwan. Of course it is a good thing, but not necessary. What is more important is 1) English, 2) relevant background, and 3) relevant work experience.

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BigA
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Re: Asian Legal Market?

Postby BigA » Sun May 02, 2010 6:07 pm

goblue1646 wrote:great thread! i'm working in shanghai now and would love to return to asia after getting my jd


I might be in the same boat (Going this summer to work in Shanghai for a year before law school). I'd like to know how we could get a job in China with our JD.

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Re: Asian Legal Market?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun May 02, 2010 6:14 pm

ArmyVet07 wrote:Are you fluent in both Mandarin and Cantonese? For HK that would be preferred.
Given that there are huge differences between informal/spoken and formal/written Chinese, I suspect that not being able to read or write the language would be an issue, but you would certainly have an advantage over people who don't know the language at all (or have only a low level of fluency). If you were raised speaking Chinese, I'm guessing you are also at home in the culture, which would be another plus.


I am fluent in Mandarin only. I'm not Cantonese, but Taiwanese-American. (Most Taiwanese cannot speak Cantonese, but they speak Mandarin and Taiwanese.) TBH, I'd prefer to work in Taiwan over HK but is there even a demand for JDs there? (I've only heard about HK and Singapore and American offices on the Mainland.)

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Re: Asian Legal Market?

Postby motiontodismiss » Sun May 02, 2010 9:13 pm

That's just great. I speak Korean but I don't speak a word of Chinese which means the fact that I speak Korean doesn't count for shit. :cry:

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Re: Asian Legal Market?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun May 02, 2010 10:43 pm

motiontodismiss wrote:That's just great. I speak Korean but I don't speak a word of Chinese which means the fact that I speak Korean doesn't count for shit. :cry:


There are some big firms in Korea. There's a really famous one, called Seung & Kim? Well whatever it's called, it's considered really prestigious there. I go to MVP and my 1L friend is working at a firm in Korea this summer. It's just that most work in Asia is done in Mandarin speaking locations b/c of HK, Singapore, Beijing, maybe Taipei.

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Re: Asian Legal Market?

Postby motiontodismiss » Mon May 03, 2010 4:46 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
motiontodismiss wrote:That's just great. I speak Korean but I don't speak a word of Chinese which means the fact that I speak Korean doesn't count for shit. :cry:


There are some big firms in Korea. There's a really famous one, called Seung & Kim? Well whatever it's called, it's considered really prestigious there. I go to MVP and my 1L friend is working at a firm in Korea this summer. It's just that most work in Asia is done in Mandarin speaking locations b/c of HK, Singapore, Beijing, maybe Taipei.


Yeah but exactly how much is a 1L summer in Seoul going to help with OCI vs. a summer in HK/Sing?

I think the firm is Kim & Chang.

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Re: Asian Legal Market?

Postby bwv812 » Mon May 03, 2010 6:01 pm

.

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Re: Asian Legal Market?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat May 08, 2010 11:59 am

does anyone know what kind of law is in most demand in asian markets?
seems like all they do is M&A...

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Re: Asian Legal Market?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun May 09, 2010 7:21 pm

Anonymous User wrote:does anyone know what kind of law is in most demand in asian markets?
seems like all they do is M&A...


Capital markets is big, big, big. Hong Kong has the 3rd most sophisticated financial market/infrastructure in the world after New York/London and the market has picked up again a lot more this year.

I would say that one doesn't *need* to speak Cantonese/Mandarin in Hong Kong (although Mandarin, not Cantonese, is preferred in a lot of the bigger firms) -- however, on the personal side, you really miss out on a lot if you don't have even a rudimentary grasp of the local language... I mean the English-only parts of Hong Kong are fun and all but if you do end up learning how to read Chinese characters eventually, you'll definitely wonder how the f you got around without knowing how to read.

That said, I think it's kind of hysterical that people would think they can learn enough Mandarin to be "competitive" with bilingual persons working in China. If it's something you really enjoy then go ahead and take your 2 years' worth of Chinese classes in law school, but that's not really much of an "edge" at all; there's no way you'll learn enough Mandarin for it to be usable for the workplace. Recruiters for Asian markets will appreciate it, but unless they were interested in your credentials anyway, it would be a hard sell in this market. And the kind of Mandarin that you learn in American schools wouldn't be very helpful at all in Singapore (accounting for the fact that most business transactions are in English anyway) unless you have a really good ear for Mandarin -- the accent is very distinctive. I mean, some American English speakers have trouble enough understanding Singaporean English.

xqhp82 wrote:I'm wondering though, what's the job prospect like if i hold a JD degree? i'm definitely going back to asia in the future (preferrably hk, or china, or taiwan) but it seems to me that LLB is still the major player...only two universities in HK have just introduced 2-year JD programs, not sure if they're as prestigious as the US JD, but in my opinion the JD is virtually unknown and often misunderstood...i'm not so much interested in the big-law/business side of things, more leaning towards public interest, am i doomed?


If you only want to work in HK after you graduate: as someone who considered doing her LL.B. at HKU but wasn't planning on settling there indefinitely -- if you can get a sizeable scholarship to an American school that would be famous in Hong Kong (you know -- the usual suspects among Asians -- Harv, Yale, Stanford, Berkeley and to a lesser extent Cornell), it's probably a good way to distinguish yourself from the fresh grads all coming out at HKU and get a leg up in the big firms. But like... if you're from HK anyway and don't have admission to one of the most famous schools, it's probably a lot cheaper to go to HKU, and yeah, the non-international firms will understand the LL.B. a lot better.

Otherwise, if you don't mind working in the US before transferring over, just set yourself up in a competitive position to be hired by firms that have both US and Hong Kong offices. The UK firms in HK tend to have a more visible presence than the US newcomers.

Somewhere buried in my emails is a PDF containing first-hand perspectives from hiring partners about the employability of people who obtain Chinese LL.M.s or study Chinese in China or just have Chinese language skills in general -- if anyone is interested in reading it, PM me and I can find it for you.

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Re: Asian Legal Market?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon May 10, 2010 10:51 pm

Anonymous User wrote: My Singaporean friend told me that in Singapore, only 4 schools' graduates can work as "native" attorneys. Other schools' graduates have to work as "foreign" attorneys. These are: Harvard, Columbia, NYU, and Michigan. Yes, even Yale and Stanford grads have to work as "foreign" attorneys. You have to graduate in the top 70% of your class and take the bar exam for Singapore.


Does anyone know how hard it is to pass the Singapore bar?

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Re: Asian Legal Market?

Postby 86revolt » Tue May 11, 2010 1:35 am

This is advice I just got from a senior partner at a US-based law firm in Shanghai. He couldn't meet with me, but sent me the following in an email. I thought I'd share it.

"If you are committed to working in China, the best thing you can do is get some strong experience working in the U.S. first. You can't get a license to work here until you have practiced for 2 years in the U.S. So my advice is to keep studying Mandarin, maybe do an immersion program if you are not fluent, and work on becoming the best American lawyer possible. Of course, you should try to find work with a firm that has a substantial China practice, and let them know during the interview process that your career goal is to work on China related matters."

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Re: Asian Legal Market?

Postby 174 » Thu Jun 03, 2010 11:19 pm

bump

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Re: Asian Legal Market?

Postby creamedcats » Thu Jun 03, 2010 11:41 pm

86revolt wrote:This is advice I just got from a senior partner at a US-based law firm in Shanghai. He couldn't meet with me, but sent me the following in an email. I thought I'd share it.

"If you are committed to working in China, the best thing you can do is get some strong experience working in the U.S. first. You can't get a license to work here until you have practiced for 2 years in the U.S. So my advice is to keep studying Mandarin, maybe do an immersion program if you are not fluent, and work on becoming the best American lawyer possible. Of course, you should try to find work with a firm that has a substantial China practice, and let them know during the interview process that your career goal is to work on China related matters."


That's good advice. Skill trumps language/local experience, but if you really want to work there, you may need both. I worked in Asia for two years and met only a few who came directly to Asia; and many others who came years later than they expected. Not surprisingly, most came from T20 schools.

I speak enough Chinese for it to be useful in the workplace. But I learned it in China, not in the US.

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Re: Asian Legal Market?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jun 04, 2010 11:22 am

how feasible is it to get a job in Asia RIGHT AFTER law school? Or do Asian firms always hire laterals and not fresh-out-of-law-school types?

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Re: Asian Legal Market?

Postby creamedcats » Fri Jun 04, 2010 11:36 am

Anonymous User wrote:how feasible is it to get a job in Asia RIGHT AFTER law school? Or do Asian firms always hire laterals and not fresh-out-of-law-school types?


They seem to prefer laterals. I have met three fresh associates here, two had at least some time in Asia previous to law school and one graduated from HLS. Also, I assume you mean 'firms in Asia' unless you're talking about actual Asian firms, where you'll have a hell of a time getting hired. Although Jun He, a big Chinese firm, has just opened an office in Silicon Valley...

It's not impossible to get here right after law school, but it seems very difficult. Perhaps that will change, but I'd guess a glut of experienced people are waiting for jobs over here.

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Re: Asian Legal Market?

Postby BigA » Sat Jun 05, 2010 1:38 am

So guess I'd like to know what the salaries are for these really exclusive Asian jobs. I'm looking at China. You could give the figure in terms of RMB.

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Re: Asian Legal Market?

Postby creamedcats » Sat Jun 05, 2010 3:43 am

BigA wrote:So guess I'd like to know what the salaries are for these really exclusive Asian jobs. I'm looking at China. You could give the figure in terms of RMB.


I didn't work as an associate. Some will transfer associates over here at roughly market, but those who go directly to work here are often paid far less. I'd guess around half (80k USD/year). COL is so much lower (if you want) that it probably trumps even cheap US markets in that regard. Basically, I'd say making anything close to NYC market as a first year over here is the exception by far. My data set is pretty limited, though.

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Re: Asian Legal Market?

Postby motiontodismiss » Sat Jun 05, 2010 11:16 am

Low CoL my ass. Tokyo is as expensive as London and much more than NY, as is HK/Sing.

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Re: Asian Legal Market?

Postby creamedcats » Sat Jun 05, 2010 12:47 pm

motiontodismiss wrote:Low CoL my ass. Tokyo is as expensive as London and much more than NY, as is HK/Sing.


Sorry, I meant mainland China, forgot to specify. Shanghai/Beijing are cheap if you want them to be, expensive if you prefer them to be. Other places, no.

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Re: Asian Legal Market?

Postby dood » Sat Jun 05, 2010 1:22 pm

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Last edited by dood on Sun Jul 04, 2010 3:19 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Asian Legal Market?

Postby dood » Sat Jun 05, 2010 1:34 pm

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Last edited by dood on Sun Jul 04, 2010 3:19 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Asian Legal Market?

Postby burvowski » Sun Jun 06, 2010 9:25 pm

Something to keep in mind. I lived in Shanghai from 1999 - 2006. I'm not sure if gov't policy has changed since then, but you technically (unless you do it via black market) weren't able to convert RMB back to Dollars, only the other way around. This might be important if the firm pays you in local currency and you want to pay back loans/ save up your salary for after China.

Anyway, I'm still in law school, but a close family friend is a partner in an international firm in Shanghai and offered this advice: Basically, work on becoming the best lawyer you can in the US, whether IP, corporate, etc, (she recommended working 5 years in the States before coming over) and worry about being specialized in China/Asian law as a secondary concern, including language skills. If you're not going to commit to being fluent before your interview, and are only "proficient" or something else like that, it wouldn't really help you out. If, on the otherhand, you're a kick-ass lawyer regardless of language skills, you will get hired. Someone already posted advice to that end in this thread, but I thought I'd reinforce that coming from an established attorney over there. Hope it helps and good luck. China is an amazing country, and I would love to go back there to work one day. If anyone has non-law related questions about living and working in China, feel free to ask and I'll do my best to answer based on my 7 years there.

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Re: Asian Legal Market?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jun 06, 2010 9:48 pm

burvowski wrote:Something to keep in mind. I lived in Shanghai from 1999 - 2006. I'm not sure if gov't policy has changed since then, but you technically (unless you do it via black market) weren't able to convert RMB back to Dollars, only the other way around. This might be important if the firm pays you in local currency and you want to pay back loans/ save up your salary for after China.

Anyway, I'm still in law school, but a close family friend is a partner in an international firm in Shanghai and offered this advice: Basically, work on becoming the best lawyer you can in the US, whether IP, corporate, etc, (she recommended working 5 years in the States before coming over) and worry about being specialized in China/Asian law as a secondary concern, including language skills. If you're not going to commit to being fluent before your interview, and are only "proficient" or something else like that, it wouldn't really help you out. If, on the otherhand, you're a kick-ass lawyer regardless of language skills, you will get hired. Someone already posted advice to that end in this thread, but I thought I'd reinforce that coming from an established attorney over there. Hope it helps and good luck. China is an amazing country, and I would love to go back there to work one day. If anyone has non-law related questions about living and working in China, feel free to ask and I'll do my best to answer based on my 7 years there.


what if you're already fluent in Mandarin? will they hire you straight out from law school?

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Re: Asian Legal Market?

Postby creamedcats » Mon Jun 07, 2010 12:17 am

dood wrote:
creamedcats wrote:
BigA wrote:So guess I'd like to know what the salaries are for these really exclusive Asian jobs. I'm looking at China. You could give the figure in terms of RMB.


I didn't work as an associate. Some will transfer associates over here at roughly market, but those who go directly to work here are often paid far less. I'd guess around half (80k USD/year). COL is so much lower (if you want) that it probably trumps even cheap US markets in that regard. Basically, I'd say making anything close to NYC market as a first year over here is the exception by far. My data set is pretty limited, though.


Don't guess. Ask a law firm. The following is from a V10 partner: Associate salary is typically 1.25-1.5X your lockstep if you are a US Citizen and expat - the difference is typically referred to as "hazard" or "inconvenience" pay. The firm will also pay for all travel, relocation, typically with 6 months-year of corporate housing and a large per diem amount for your day to day expenses. Oh, and anytime you fly more than I think 2500 miles, it is auto upgraded to business class. Note none of this is really out of key with standard corporate procedure...most companies follow a similar expat plan. Yeah, I had a pretty detailed conversation about this...it was only because we were both frequent flyer miles/hotel/car rental rewards whores.


I'm sure this is the case for experienced lawyers and partners, but I have worked in offices where this is not the case for new/relatively new associates, from salary to where you sit on the airplane. Not saying you're wrong, but - there are exceptions, and I've worked with some of them. Based on their background and what partners have told me when I've been discussing future plans, to have any hope of being that exception, you generally (but not always) need to be a T20 graduate with outstanding credentials, and have some pre-existing tie to or unusual specialization in the market in question. It's not something you should rely on going into law school. Language is nice but will only serve as a differentiator when you've met all the other requirements. That's painful for me to say given how much time I invested in learning Mandarin, but it's true. If you're a proven expert or well-connected, nobody cares if your Chinese/English/Whatever is broken. For someone just breaking into the field, it seems logical to learn it, though, and learn it well.

Regarding converting currency - your firm can register you with the Chinese Ministry of Justice (depending on the firm's registration status), which will allow you to get a work permit and freely convert an amount up to your salary. The process requires a lot of paperwork and a few months of processing time (varies).

Again, only addressing China here.

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Re: Asian Legal Market?

Postby Paladuck » Mon Jun 07, 2010 3:56 am

I'd like to offer my perspective here based on my personal experience and what others have told me. I'm currently a rising 3L in the US, who has been working as a summer intern at a major international firm in Shanghai, China. I obtained the job through a family connection.

Foreign law firms in China are not allowed to practice PRC law. Therefore, only domestic firms (the biggest of which are firms like Dacheng and King & Wood) actually practice law. Foreign firms (like Baker & McKenzie, DLA Piper, Jones Day) merely "render opinions" and advise clients on the law. Consequently, foreign firms will primarily have international clients that seek to do business in China. They also pay better, because associates at those firms are required to have better English fluency than attorneys at domestic firms.

That being said, I think it would be impossible to land a job as an associate at a firm in China (domestic or foreign) without a solid ability to read, write and speak Chinese. The only people at foreign firms who are not fluent in Chinese are partners or certain consultants who have specialized skills. It's probably unheard of for an associate at a firm in China to not be fluent in Chinese, and all associates at foreign firms in China are fluent and Chinese and English. Even being able to speak without also being able to read/write is not enough, since you will be dealing with PRC law on a regular basis and the official and controlling version is always in Chinese.

I'm totally guessing but I would think that working in HK or Singapore would be easier since English is more of a mainstay in those places, especially in Singapore.




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