working in asia

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shmoo597
Posts: 301
Joined: Sat Dec 13, 2008 10:31 pm

working in asia

Postby shmoo597 » Fri Jul 02, 2010 12:11 am

I'm looking for information on working in asia after law school as an associate. Has anyone on tls done this?

Do firms ever hire people fresh out of school to go work overseas? Are language skills required? What can I do to make this dream a reality for me?

Any information would be appreciated. Thanks!

newbruin45
Posts: 6
Joined: Wed Jun 02, 2010 10:48 pm

Re: working in asia

Postby newbruin45 » Fri Jul 02, 2010 6:54 pm

I've done quite a bit of research into this topic. One of the best ways to learn about big law in Asia is by taking a look at the post by Kinney Recruiting on AbovetheLaw. They also have their own blog now at http://www.theasiachronicles.com. They're a recruiting firm that specializes in placing big law candidates in Asia.

From what I've gathered here are the answers to your questions.

1) No, firms don't usually directly hire candidates directly from law school. Most Asian countries require you to spend X amount of years (usually 3) practicing in your home country before you can be registered as a foreign attorney. Thus, most candidates lateral over to Asia after a few years working in the U.S. Some firms might send you over if they have an in-house need. Otherwise, you'd have to use a recruiting service, like Kinney, to transfer to another firm.

2) For the most part language skills are required. There are basically four legal markets in Asia: Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and China. Korea is still closed to foreign lawyers right now but it will open in a few years I believe [right now most of the Korean work is done in Hong Kong]. Fluency in Mandarin, Korean or Japanese is not necessarily required but definitely a huge plus. I think especially with Mandarin and Korean there are plenty of native level speakers American law schools so native level language skills are often required in the current market. That being said back when the economy was hot language skills weren't necessarily required because firms were more desperate to fill positions.

Honestly in the current economy to make the dream a reality you need to probably...

1) Go to a top law school
2) Do really well at that school [in fact 1&2 seem to be a requirement to get a big law job period these days...]
3) Get hired at a top firm [most laterals seem to be hired from top NY firms]
4) Practice in a relevant area [usually transactional work, such as M&A or project finance]
5) Have some language skills [the closer to fluent the better]

Good luck. Message me if you have further questions.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273578
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: working in asia

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jul 03, 2010 10:51 pm

newbruin45 wrote:I've done quite a bit of research into this topic. One of the best ways to learn about big law in Asia is by taking a look at the post by Kinney Recruiting on AbovetheLaw. They also have their own blog now at http://www.theasiachronicles.com. They're a recruiting firm that specializes in placing big law candidates in Asia.

From what I've gathered here are the answers to your questions.

1) No, firms don't usually directly hire candidates directly from law school. Most Asian countries require you to spend X amount of years (usually 3) practicing in your home country before you can be registered as a foreign attorney. Thus, most candidates lateral over to Asia after a few years working in the U.S. Some firms might send you over if they have an in-house need. Otherwise, you'd have to use a recruiting service, like Kinney, to transfer to another firm.

2) For the most part language skills are required. There are basically four legal markets in Asia: Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and China. Korea is still closed to foreign lawyers right now but it will open in a few years I believe [right now most of the Korean work is done in Hong Kong]. Fluency in Mandarin, Korean or Japanese is not necessarily required but definitely a huge plus. I think especially with Mandarin and Korean there are plenty of native level speakers American law schools so native level language skills are often required in the current market. That being said back when the economy was hot language skills weren't necessarily required because firms were more desperate to fill positions.

Honestly in the current economy to make the dream a reality you need to probably...

1) Go to a top law school
2) Do really well at that school [in fact 1&2 seem to be a requirement to get a big law job period these days...]
3) Get hired at a top firm [most laterals seem to be hired from top NY firms]
4) Practice in a relevant area [usually transactional work, such as M&A or project finance]
5) Have some language skills [the closer to fluent the better]

Good luck. Message me if you have further questions.


I have a friend whos been accepted to going to Cornell. He applied and got accepted last Dec in 2009 and was placed to work for a Korean law firm for 2 weeks through Cornell. I suppose that was only for training/testing purposes in those 2 weeks. And after working there, that Korean employer told my friend that once he graduates from Cornell, he can move to South Korea right away and start working at that firm and his starting pay will be $150k USD + bonuses + local tax benefits. Do you know if there might be similar routes biglaw grads could take through their school networks?

Anonymous User
Posts: 273578
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: working in asia

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jul 07, 2010 9:38 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
newbruin45 wrote:I've done quite a bit of research into this topic. One of the best ways to learn about big law in Asia is by taking a look at the post by Kinney Recruiting on AbovetheLaw. They also have their own blog now at http://www.theasiachronicles.com. They're a recruiting firm that specializes in placing big law candidates in Asia.

From what I've gathered here are the answers to your questions.

1) No, firms don't usually directly hire candidates directly from law school. Most Asian countries require you to spend X amount of years (usually 3) practicing in your home country before you can be registered as a foreign attorney. Thus, most candidates lateral over to Asia after a few years working in the U.S. Some firms might send you over if they have an in-house need. Otherwise, you'd have to use a recruiting service, like Kinney, to transfer to another firm.

2) For the most part language skills are required. There are basically four legal markets in Asia: Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and China. Korea is still closed to foreign lawyers right now but it will open in a few years I believe [right now most of the Korean work is done in Hong Kong]. Fluency in Mandarin, Korean or Japanese is not necessarily required but definitely a huge plus. I think especially with Mandarin and Korean there are plenty of native level speakers American law schools so native level language skills are often required in the current market. That being said back when the economy was hot language skills weren't necessarily required because firms were more desperate to fill positions.

Honestly in the current economy to make the dream a reality you need to probably...

1) Go to a top law school
2) Do really well at that school [in fact 1&2 seem to be a requirement to get a big law job period these days...]
3) Get hired at a top firm [most laterals seem to be hired from top NY firms]
4) Practice in a relevant area [usually transactional work, such as M&A or project finance]
5) Have some language skills [the closer to fluent the better]

Good luck. Message me if you have further questions.


I have a friend whos been accepted to going to Cornell. He applied and got accepted last Dec in 2009 and was placed to work for a Korean law firm for 2 weeks through Cornell. I suppose that was only for training/testing purposes in those 2 weeks. And after working there, that Korean employer told my friend that once he graduates from Cornell, he can move to South Korea right away and start working at that firm and his starting pay will be $150k USD + bonuses + local tax benefits. Do you know if there might be similar routes biglaw grads could take through their school networks?


Ok, I don't want to say that your friend is lying or anything, but from my experience as a rising 2L working at a major Korean firm right now, pretty much everything your friend says does not make any sense.

First of all, Korean firms do not extend offers in advance like in the US (not even to 2Ls or 3Ls). Korean firms recruit foreign attorneys only when there is a vacancy at the firm.
I have never heard of any summer associate working at a Korean firm getting an offer.

Second, the starting pay is just ridiculous.
In Korea, the starting pay is 70-90K (the Korean attorneys may get a tad more).
To make 150K a year will take at least 4-5years.

In all honesty, I think your friend got his 2weeks of training through some connection, maybe he knew the partner at the law firm. However, I highly doubt that he got an offer from the firm, especially when he is a 0L.




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