Gunning for Asia

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SHANbangs
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Gunning for Asia

Postby SHANbangs » Tue Mar 29, 2011 10:47 am

What should a law student do to maximize his or her chances of eventually getting a placement in Asia, or laterally transferring? At --LinkRemoved--, the two main takeaways is 1) Go as high up Vault 100 as possible and 2) get M&A/Capital Markets experience. This obviously translates into doing as well as you can in law school and going to a prestigious law school. However, I'm wondering if people on this board had anything else to offer on this subject? For example, would going to a D.C. based schoool diminish chances of eventual asia placement considerably because the D.C. market is smaller than NY and much less finance intensive? Is it possible for 1L or 2Ls to get summer associate experience in Asia? And for anybody who has experience, what is big law life like in asia relative to the U.S? Another good question is if one finds placement in Asia or laterally transfers there, is there any possibility of returning to the U.S. later on in their career?

tlslsnlsp
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Re: Gunning for Asia

Postby tlslsnlsp » Tue Mar 29, 2011 10:50 am

Also interested in this. I looked through some of the postings on the asia chronicles and it seems like they don't hire straight out of law school; all of the postings said at least a year or two of US biglaw experience was required. how about 1L summer, though? is this a bad idea for 1L summer?

SHANbangs
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Re: Gunning for Asia

Postby SHANbangs » Tue Mar 29, 2011 10:58 am

Yeah, good point tls. Also, aside from the "high as you can go on vault" approach, are there any particular firms that punch above their weight for placing in Asia, or having a strong presence in Asia despite their maybe lower ranking in the U.S.?

dark
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Re: Gunning for Asia

Postby dark » Tue Mar 29, 2011 1:20 pm

Obviously different jobs will require different backgrounds. From my own research and talking to people, corporate/M+A work (specifically cross border transactional matters) are the skills that are most in demand by Japanese and Chinese law firms who would take on a foreign legal consultant. Almost every lawyer I've talked to who worked in Japan at some point has said that you have to be careful ... the experience you get as counsel for a Japanese company or working on Japanese matters as the consultant on American law for the little aspect of American law that might relate to a legal matter, is not likely to make you seem relevant or attractive to Stateside employers (this tidbit is based on comments from 2 attorneys I've talked to who felt that they were "marooned" in Japan, that their work experience in the Japanese market was not something that looked attractive or relevant to most US law firms).

Some US firms have satellite offices in Tokyo or Shanghai or other places. Typically these offices seem pretty small (maybe 10 attorneys?) and I see a lot of LLMs (IE: Japanese or Chinese who got an LLM at a US law school on top of their national legal education) filling up those slots. It seems to me that the US firms with satellite offices would want attorneys who are familiar with the local law, relevant aspects of American law, and can interface with outside counsel if necessary (IE: call in a Japanese law firm to help if the matter is beyond the resources of the US firm's satellite office). As a result, it sounds a little bit tough for an American to get into this role unless they have some substantial language skills, and a compelling atypical background in the jurisdiction's law.

Most of this answer is in regards to Japan. Maybe things are significantly different for China.

zomginternets
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Re: Gunning for Asia

Postby zomginternets » Tue Mar 29, 2011 2:45 pm

I asked a similar question in a different section of this forum (viewtopic.php?f=1&t=147086) and this was the most useful response I got:

There are two realistic ways to practice internationally. One is to do transactions or (much less realistic) international arbitration at a big, multinational firm. For this, there is no distinction--go to the best school you can, and get good grades. Since you excluded HYS, that means Columbia. Language ability will matter, but isn't always required.

Another suboption related to this first option is to work as a foreign legal consultant at a Japanese or Korean firm. Japan has a few large homegrown firms, such as Anderson Mori, Nagashima Ohno (both in Tokyo), and Oh-ebashi (Osaka) (there are a couple of others that I just forget at the moment), and Korea has basically one megafirm for corporate work called Kim and Chang. All of these firms employ foreigners to facilitate work that they do in English. At the Japanese firms, though, you will definitely be a second-class citizen with less pay and less substantive work--more like a staff attorney at a US biglaw firm than an associate, although the roles don't quite map exactly onto each other. I suspect this is also the case at Kim and Chang, although it seems like you get more "real" work there as an FLC. (That said, Kim and Chang is notorious for hours that make NYC biglaw seem like the French civil service--it's a set 6-day work week, you'll often work that 7th day, and 12 hours at the office per working day is pretty standard.) At any rate, for these jobs, if you're interested, language ability and school prestige will probably be most important, but the standards will not be as high as US/UK biglaw foreign offices.

For international employers, such as the UN or the ICC, prestige of your law school is the most important factor (I should add here that, from what I've been told, grades do not matter for these jobs at all). In some ways, the rankings might not align exactly here, because we're talking about international prestige, which is probably more closely aligned with the notion of "lay prestige." So, HYS win again, and Columbia is certainly next. After that, it might be hard to predict how an international employer would distinguish between, say, NYU and Duke. Penn might be marginally more internationally prestigious than either.

edit: I should add, so that I can be accused of negativity, that your chances at one day living the expat lawyer lifestyle dwindle rapidly as you move down the rankings out of the T10. After t10sh, you'd better have a solid plan B or law school probably isn't for you.

stayway
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Re: Gunning for Asia

Postby stayway » Tue Mar 29, 2011 2:48 pm

.

dark
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Re: Gunning for Asia

Postby dark » Tue Mar 29, 2011 2:52 pm

I agree with everything from the quoted post, except there is some leeway with this one:

your chances at one day living the expat lawyer lifestyle dwindle rapidly as you move down the rankings out of the T10. After t10sh, you'd better have a solid plan B or law school probably isn't for you.


For transactional work, rather than going to a Top 5 school, it is more important you show good and relevant transactional experience. It is not impossible to get into a prestigious or well known lawfirm from a T20 or even T30, so I would say you aren't shut out if you wind up at a school outside of the T10 such as BU or BC for instance.

It's important to keep in mind, doing the expat lawyer as legal consultant route does not tend to be something that is possible right out of law school. It's more of a long term goal that can be accomplished after a few years of (most likely domestic) experience you can show off with a US firm.

SHANbangs
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Re: Gunning for Asia

Postby SHANbangs » Thu Mar 31, 2011 12:22 am

Not to sound ludicrously ignorant, and despite my curiosity about expat feasibility, what exactly do expat US associates do in Asia? I hear about the Singapore-Shanghai-HK triangle of US associate hiring, but I'm still not sure what they are hired to do. They obviously can't practice Chinese/Singaporean law unless they write the bar (which in China they can't). Are they just advising Chinese companies on US law, as TLS says? I hear about IPOs/M&As, but how do these financial transactions work legally? Who is complying with American laws in these transactions - American investors? Chinese startups? Everyone? And this may sound like an even sillier question, but why would they need to comply with American law in Asia?

zomginternets
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Re: Gunning for Asia

Postby zomginternets » Thu Mar 31, 2011 3:54 pm

Preface: 1L response here (I have no experience in this field but I've looked into this a fair amount).

With international transactional work like M&A, the US cares a lot about the domestic legality of any merger of a company that is either incorporated in the US or does significant business in the US. One example would be making sure that the merger complies with US antitrust laws. If the US thinks a merger would create a company that controls a disproportionate share of the marketplace, it will either ban or make it significantly more expensive for them to do business in the US. You help the merging companies make sure that they are not violating any antitrust laws.

With international dispute resolution, you become acquainted with the standard rules regarding international arbitration and the such. Or if there are disputed contracts that designate the UCC as the choice law, you would advise your client on that. Since I don't think private international dispute resolution requires admission to any particular country's bar (although I could be wrong), you should be fine as long as you are competent in the substantive law and procedure.

SHANbangs
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Re: Gunning for Asia

Postby SHANbangs » Fri Apr 01, 2011 9:08 am

Thanks for the tip!

Anonymous User
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Re: Gunning for Asia

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Apr 01, 2011 2:06 pm

I worked in Asia before I went to law school, for a couple of V50 firms. One of them hired new expats directly into their Asia offices, another did not. But, they did hire away from other firms in the area. It seems that if you can get a job in the market you want, or at least nearby, you have a pretty big foot in the door.

Going to a high-ranking school is important, more important than it is in the US, because you're basically using that as your interview icebreaker. If you have some other connection and went outside the T20-30 you still have a chance. Connections do wonders in Asia, especially since not many expats have them. If you can get a decent summer job in Asia, that would be the best way to break in.

All that said, hiring straight out of school is still very much the exception, and most firms won't transfer you to Asia unless they need your particular expertise there. Obviously, it happens, but I've only seen one existing associate come from outside Asia (and that was after an absolute slaughter of the existing associates) and I've seen many Partners come in, set up for the duration of a project, and then head back to the US.

So it's kind of a game of degrees. It's almost impossible to just waltz in with nothing, difficult to come in without T14/prior connection and not easy even with all of the above, because the market, though surging, is still nothing compared to NYC/DC/etc in terms of demand for American lawyers, especially when there are now approximately five bazillion Chinese students getting LLMs and JDs in American law schools.

Anonymous User
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Re: Gunning for Asia

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Apr 01, 2011 2:50 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I worked in Asia before I went to law school, for a couple of V50 firms. One of them hired new expats directly into their Asia offices, another did not. But, they did hire away from other firms in the area. It seems that if you can get a job in the market you want, or at least nearby, you have a pretty big foot in the door.

Going to a high-ranking school is important, more important than it is in the US, because you're basically using that as your interview icebreaker. If you have some other connection and went outside the T20-30 you still have a chance. Connections do wonders in Asia, especially since not many expats have them. If you can get a decent summer job in Asia, that would be the best way to break in.

All that said, hiring straight out of school is still very much the exception, and most firms won't transfer you to Asia unless they need your particular expertise there. Obviously, it happens, but I've only seen one existing associate come from outside Asia (and that was after an absolute slaughter of the existing associates) and I've seen many Partners come in, set up for the duration of a project, and then head back to the US.

So it's kind of a game of degrees. It's almost impossible to just waltz in with nothing, difficult to come in without T14/prior connection and not easy even with all of the above, because the market, though surging, is still nothing compared to NYC/DC/etc in terms of demand for American lawyers, especially when there are now approximately five bazillion Chinese students getting LLMs and JDs in American law schools.


I'm working at a V50 in Asia this summer, and I entirely agree with the part about how difficult it is to get a gig in Asia. I'm at a T14, top 10%, native speaker of the language, and have significant legal work experience in the country, but they still made me jump through a million hoops. In fact, I only got the job after the guy they actually wanted decided to take another offer.

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Re: Gunning for Asia

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Apr 01, 2011 6:05 pm

When I was in law school I spent all or part of both summers in Asia working for a local firm and then a US firm which was split with their home office in the US. Here are my thoughts on biglaw in asia:

1) You have to ask yourself whether you just want to be flown in for the occasional project (IP lit, arbitration, etc.) or if you want to be permanently based out there (M&A, capital markets, funds work, etc.). Don't pick something like IP antitrust work and then be upset when there isn't enough consistent work to warrant being stationed in Asia. This is why most people do M&A or capital markets, Asian companies looking to buy/sell themselves to US corporations or raise money in US capital markets need US lawyers around who are available to advise and do due diligence locally.

2) If you know you want to be permanently in Asia then, counter-intuitively, you do not want to start in Asia if you can avoid it. There are several reasons for this: first is that your experience will be limited and extremely narrow making it harder to market yourself as a lateral down the road. Second, clients wont' respect you as much since you're essentially an LLM without any local qualifications because you have no experience stateside. Third, you're never going to make partner unless people on the executive committee go to bat for you, and the executive committee partners tend to be based in the home office, so without spending a few years laying the groundwork for your run at partnership stateside then you've got no chance. There are many many exceptions to this but this is something you HAVE to consider if you're serious about a long term career as a lawyer in Asia.

This is what some people were talking about above when they said they heard an attorney felt 'marooned' in Asia. They don't have experience that would make them valuable to a US firm or able to run deals on their own at a local firm and they aren't getting that experience anytime soon while working for a local firm - it's a tough situation and lateraling back to the US to get the necessary experience at a huge salary/seniority cut is not uncommon. So if you do start in Asia, just realize you're probably going to have to rotate through the US at some point.

3) Expat packages range from nothing to large based on what you can bring to the table. Obviously if you're junior with little to no experience in the US you don't bring anything to the table that a local lawyer with an LLM isn't able to provide so expect little to no expat money. If you're a mid/senior attorney with specific experience that a local with an LLM would not be able to match then you're in a decent position to bring down a good expat package.

4) Expect to work brutally hard since the offices tend to be thinly staffed. If a deal picks up with a tight deadline it's not like they're going to fly someone in for just a few days of work, you're going to have to just pull all nighters until the deal is over.

5) Don't rely on vault for choosing a firm in Asia, or ever for that matter, since vault is basically a ranking of manhattan biglaw public M&A dealmakers. Instead look to things that specifically rank firms/offices in Asia like Chambers and Partners or some of the local awards that get given out. If you're interested in M&A or capital markets check out league tables of activity to see how much work the offices are really doing. This is important if you want to go in house (ask a Chinese/Japanese lawyer what wachtell or cravath are and they have no idea, but ask them about the local firm that gets lots of deal volume and everyone knows them). Be smart about your research or else you could end up 'marooned' pretty easily.

Anyway, I didn't really answer the question about how to maximize your chances to get a job in Asia because that question is basically identical to "what can I do to maximize my chances at getting NYC biglaw" - which is what you should really be shooting for for the above reasons.

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Re: Gunning for Asia

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Apr 01, 2011 8:24 pm

Just saying you want to work in Asia is a little bit vague. I mean there's really only 3 places to work at an international law firm (Hong Kong, China, and Tokyo). If you were more specific it'd be easier to give you advice. In the current economy you basically have to have some language skills to get a job in one of those places (Korean or Chinese for Hong Kong)... the others are obvious. However, before the economic crash Asia was booming and I think anyone with the right experience (M&A or Capital Markets) from a V10 firm in NY would have a good chance.

I am actually splitting the summer with a firm in Asia but I do have ties and language skills as well as top 10% grades from a good but not absolute top school.

I still think the best path to Asia is the best grades from the best school you can get into and then doing corporate work at the best firm possible (which has an Asian office in the country you want to practice in.

Working at a local firm is probably a mistake. It's going to be extremely hard to ever transfer back to the US and these jobs tend to pay lower as well.

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Noval
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Re: Gunning for Asia

Postby Noval » Sat Apr 02, 2011 2:58 pm

1)Learn the language perfectly.(Mandarin for China, Cantonese for HK(Not recommended, go for Mandarin), Japanese for Japan.)

2)Network like crazy, just because you're in a Top Firm doesn't guarantee anything, that firm wants you where you are, wanting to transfer = One good reason for them to kick you out and get another Lawyer to do the job.

3)If you're American, it will be hard to break in Asia, Asians hate Americans(Especially Chinese people) and will hesitate to trust them completely, that's why Asian firms tend to recruit Canadians/Europeans who are fluent in a specific language, but there's still americans breaking in the market, nothing's impossible.

If you're not in Law School yet, might as well gun for a School that has very strong International Placement, like Harvard, Yale, Stanford, if you fail, go to the North and try to get into McGill Law School (Which has many Asian firms recruiting there).

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Re: Gunning for Asia

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Apr 02, 2011 4:21 pm

hey guys i have a question about hk biglaw.
do they hire us graduates straight after graduation?
I've noticed that some biglaw programs over in HK have 4 week internship programs.

Does anyone have any more information about those programs?

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Noval
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Re: Gunning for Asia

Postby Noval » Sat Apr 02, 2011 8:25 pm

Anonymous User wrote:hey guys i have a question about hk biglaw.
do they hire us graduates straight after graduation?
I've noticed that some biglaw programs over in HK have 4 week internship programs.

Does anyone have any more information about those programs?


Those internship programs are mostly for obsvervation and are reserved for prospective Asian Law Students, if you're american, chances you'll get a spot are slim to none, unless you got the killer connection.

Many Asian based Firms do come for OCI here in McGill, and quite many students get jobs through this system, but most, if not all of them are extremely fluent in an Asian language and spent the last 2 years of their lives networking like crazy.

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niederbomb
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Re: Gunning for Asia

Postby niederbomb » Sun Apr 03, 2011 3:26 am

Noval wrote:1)Learn the language perfectly.(Mandarin for China, Cantonese for HK(Not recommended, go for Mandarin), Japanese for Japan.)

2)Network like crazy, just because you're in a Top Firm doesn't guarantee anything, that firm wants you where you are, wanting to transfer = One good reason for them to kick you out and get another Lawyer to do the job.

3)If you're American, it will be hard to break in Asia, Asians hate Americans(Especially Chinese people) and will hesitate to trust them completely, that's why Asian firms tend to recruit Canadians/Europeans who are fluent in a specific language, but there's still americans breaking in the market, nothing's impossible.

If you're not in Law School yet, might as well gun for a School that has very strong International Placement, like Harvard, Yale, Stanford, if you fail, go to the North and try to get into McGill Law School (Which has many Asian firms recruiting there).


Huh?

I don't know about the legal side, but in other sectors I've worked for the past 3 years--consulting, tech writing, teaching, marketing-- the opposite is true, if anything. Mainland Chinese practically worship America and, especially, the "Ivy League" and tend to look down on non-anglophonic Europeans. A British Canadian or an Australian lack certain negative reputational baggage that Americans carry, so I'd place them first, followed by UK/U.S, followed by Dutch, followed by everyone else, with Indians/Pakis/Africans at the bottom.

And by the way, most Chinese have never heard of McGill. The only Canadian universities that have wide lay reputation are UBC and Toronto (I say this as someone who worked in visa/application consulting for 1 year in Dalian). So definitely go to one of those if you go up north. Otherwise, it's Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Columbia, Chicago, and maybe Penn as a distant 6th. In England, go to Cambridge, Oxford, and LSE.

Don't, and I repeat, DO NOT go to a local university, for anything except to study the language. Chinese tend to have a low view of foreigners who attend local universities because they perceive--rightly or wrongly--U.S. universities as being so much better. Hence, the new English-language "International Law" degree from Beijing University is probably a really bad idea if anyone here is thinking of doing it.

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Re: Gunning for Asia

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Apr 03, 2011 6:24 am

niederbomb wrote:Don't, and I repeat, DO NOT go to a local university, for anything except to study the language. Chinese tend to have a low view of foreigners who attend local universities because they perceive--rightly or wrongly--U.S. universities as being so much better. Hence, the new English-language "International Law" degree from Beijing University is probably a really bad idea if anyone here is thinking of doing it.


I was thinking of going to the LLM program in Chinese law at PKU but I thought that since it's taught in English, the quality is probably not so high and there may be inconveniences and losses in translation when learning Chinese legal terms that have been translated into the English equivalents. Plus, I can just go to the US for an English-taught JD program. So now I'm seriously considering a Chinese-taught Master of Law program elsewhere, where there aren't many English-taught courses so one is forced to take civil law and constitution law courses in Chinese. How would an entirely Chinese-taught civil law Master's program viewed by top law schools and employers? Is my perfectly fluent and legal Chinese fluency as a result of this program a plus in interviews and networking? Of course this is not a bar-preparation university course, so I won't know all of Chinese law. As a non-Chinese citizen, I'm also banned from sitting the Chinese bar, but this isn't something that I want to do in the first place, since my goal is to practice US law. Please tell me your thoughts on whether a Chinese-taught program at a top Chinese-speaking university is worthwhile or helpful in the long run.

And yes, the Chinese elite students go study abroad at top US and UK schools, not in China.

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Re: Gunning for Asia

Postby 174 » Sun Apr 03, 2011 12:12 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
I was thinking of going to the LLM program in Chinese law


These LLMs are useless. For the vast majority of American lawyers, the only way to work in Asia is to lateral after a few years of large firm experience in M&A or capital markets.

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Re: Gunning for Asia

Postby Noval » Sun Apr 03, 2011 6:16 pm

niederbomb wrote:
Noval wrote:1)Learn the language perfectly.(Mandarin for China, Cantonese for HK(Not recommended, go for Mandarin), Japanese for Japan.)

2)Network like crazy, just because you're in a Top Firm doesn't guarantee anything, that firm wants you where you are, wanting to transfer = One good reason for them to kick you out and get another Lawyer to do the job.

3)If you're American, it will be hard to break in Asia, Asians hate Americans(Especially Chinese people) and will hesitate to trust them completely, that's why Asian firms tend to recruit Canadians/Europeans who are fluent in a specific language, but there's still americans breaking in the market, nothing's impossible.

If you're not in Law School yet, might as well gun for a School that has very strong International Placement, like Harvard, Yale, Stanford, if you fail, go to the North and try to get into McGill Law School (Which has many Asian firms recruiting there).


Huh?

I don't know about the legal side, but in other sectors I've worked for the past 3 years--consulting, tech writing, teaching, marketing-- the opposite is true, if anything. Mainland Chinese practically worship America and, especially, the "Ivy League" and tend to look down on non-anglophonic Europeans. A British Canadian or an Australian lack certain negative reputational baggage that Americans carry, so I'd place them first, followed by UK/U.S, followed by Dutch, followed by everyone else, with Indians/Pakis/Africans at the bottom.

And by the way, most Chinese have never heard of McGill. The only Canadian universities that have wide lay reputation are UBC and Toronto (I say this as someone who worked in visa/application consulting for 1 year in Dalian). So definitely go to one of those if you go up north. Otherwise, it's Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Columbia, Chicago, and maybe Penn as a distant 6th. In England, go to Cambridge, Oxford, and LSE.

Don't, and I repeat, DO NOT go to a local university, for anything except to study the language. Chinese tend to have a low view of foreigners who attend local universities because they perceive--rightly or wrongly--U.S. universities as being so much better. Hence, the new English-language "International Law" degree from Beijing University is probably a really bad idea if anyone here is thinking of doing it.


Nobody recruits at UBC for Asian jobs,
UofT is good.
McGill is just the same except it's less expensive, if it wasn't known there i wouldn't see so many grads working in Asian firms.
When i'm talking about Chinese people hating Americans, it's the rich Chinese CEOs/Companies who usually don't trust Americans as much as other countries.

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Re: Gunning for Asia

Postby tlslsnlsp » Sun Apr 03, 2011 7:23 pm

174 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
I was thinking of going to the LLM program in Chinese law


These LLMs are useless. For the vast majority of American lawyers, the only way to work in Asia is to lateral after a few years of large firm experience in M&A or capital markets.


Are these the only two biglaw areas that the US firms in Asia do, and if so, why?

Also, would it be a kiss of death to have specialized in a different area during that year or two in biglaw in the US?

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Noval
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Re: Gunning for Asia

Postby Noval » Sun Apr 03, 2011 7:37 pm

tlslsnlsp wrote:
174 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
I was thinking of going to the LLM program in Chinese law


These LLMs are useless. For the vast majority of American lawyers, the only way to work in Asia is to lateral after a few years of large firm experience in M&A or capital markets.


Are these the only two biglaw areas that the US firms in Asia do, and if so, why?

Also, would it be a kiss of death to have specialized in a different area during that year or two in biglaw in the US?


You can repurpose your "area of specialty" if your current field is "connex" to the area you want to break into.
Just like you can see many BigLaw Associates who do Securities/Corporate Law switch in Investment Banking.

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Re: Gunning for Asia

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Apr 03, 2011 7:47 pm

tlslsnlsp wrote:
174 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
I was thinking of going to the LLM program in Chinese law


These LLMs are useless. For the vast majority of American lawyers, the only way to work in Asia is to lateral after a few years of large firm experience in M&A or capital markets.


Are these the only two biglaw areas that the US firms in Asia do, and if so, why?

Also, would it be a kiss of death to have specialized in a different area during that year or two in biglaw in the US?


As written by myself above:

Anonymous User wrote:1) You have to ask yourself whether you just want to be flown in for the occasional project (IP lit, arbitration, etc.) or if you want to be permanently based out there (M&A, capital markets, funds work, etc.). Don't pick something like IP antitrust work and then be upset when there isn't enough consistent work to warrant being stationed in Asia. This is why most people do M&A or capital markets, Asian companies looking to buy/sell themselves to US corporations or raise money in US capital markets need US lawyers around who are available to advise and do due diligence locally.


You guys need to look at it more from an Asian client's point of view. What would you be offering that local counsel wouldn't be able to offer (realize that local counsel is always cheaper)? You have an LLM from a local law school? Nobody cares, there are tons and tons of locally qualified lawyers who know more about local law than you, not to mention that without a local law license you'd be in big trouble if you give advice on local laws.

You need to be bringing something to the table that they can't get locally - why is this not sinking in? This is why being fluent in a language is not nearly enough, there are plenty of local lawyers who are also fluent - what can you do that they can't? The only thing you're offering is a license to practice law in the US and any US experience you've picked up. You do not want to work for a local firm unless you're in a very unique situation because, usually, you will get: no expat package, no shot at partner, no real experience, and no lateral mobility back to US firms. Now working for a local firm later in your career as a partner/counsel type position is a different story, but as a junior associate it's not ideal.

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Re: Gunning for Asia

Postby tlslsnlsp » Sun Apr 03, 2011 8:18 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
tlslsnlsp wrote:
174 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
I was thinking of going to the LLM program in Chinese law


These LLMs are useless. For the vast majority of American lawyers, the only way to work in Asia is to lateral after a few years of large firm experience in M&A or capital markets.


Are these the only two biglaw areas that the US firms in Asia do, and if so, why?

Also, would it be a kiss of death to have specialized in a different area during that year or two in biglaw in the US?


As written by myself above:

Anonymous User wrote:1) You have to ask yourself whether you just want to be flown in for the occasional project (IP lit, arbitration, etc.) or if you want to be permanently based out there (M&A, capital markets, funds work, etc.). Don't pick something like IP antitrust work and then be upset when there isn't enough consistent work to warrant being stationed in Asia. This is why most people do M&A or capital markets, Asian companies looking to buy/sell themselves to US corporations or raise money in US capital markets need US lawyers around who are available to advise and do due diligence locally.


You guys need to look at it more from an Asian client's point of view. What would you be offering that local counsel wouldn't be able to offer (realize that local counsel is always cheaper)? You have an LLM from a local law school? Nobody cares, there are tons and tons of locally qualified lawyers who know more about local law than you, not to mention that without a local law license you'd be in big trouble if you give advice on local laws.

You need to be bringing something to the table that they can't get locally - why is this not sinking in? This is why being fluent in a language is not nearly enough, there are plenty of local lawyers who are also fluent - what can you do that they can't? The only thing you're offering is a license to practice law in the US and any US experience you've picked up. You do not want to work for a local firm unless you're in a very unique situation because, usually, you will get: no expat package, no shot at partner, no real experience, and no lateral mobility back to US firms. Now working for a local firm later in your career as a partner/counsel type position is a different story, but as a junior associate it's not ideal.


Thanks for the insight. So if I understand you correctly, my plan of action should be:

attend the law school that puts me in the best position to secure a biglaw job -> get high grades -> accept offer at biglaw where I can do M&A / capital markets work -> work at least two years there

then I'll be highly marketable for a US firm job in Asia?

Is it important that the firm you first work at has an Asian branch (possibly be transferred within the same firm) or am I better off just going for the biggest name I can get (regardless of whether they have an Asian branch or not)?




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