Asia’s lucky generation

Top law firms are promoting more partners in Asia Pacific

Asia partner promotion statistics from eight international firms over the past four years suggest local senior lawyers stand a good chance of being made up. 

Last week Linklaters confirmed that its promotions had fallen to 21 from 24, following news from Allen & Overy (A&O) that it had made up 16 lawyers, with three based in Asia. While the global number at A&O is slightly down on the previous year, the proportion in Asia is still high. For example, in 2011, two out of 21 promotions were in Asia – 9.5 per cent, compared with 26 per cent in 2013 and 18.7 per cent this year.

Prospects for Asia promotions are on the up, based on an analysis of eight firms that have a sizable presence in the region – A&O, Clifford Chance, DLA Piper, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Herbert Smith Freehills, Hogan Lovells, Linklaters and Norton Rose Fulbright. All are among the top 15 international firms in Asia by lawyer headcount, according to The Lawyer Asia Pacific 150 2013.

Between 2010 and 2013 the eight together promoted 101 partners in Asia – 12.9 per cent of their global figures combined. Hong Kong by far is the largest jurisdiction for promotions in the region, with 46 new partners. China saw 28 and Singapore 13.

Clifford Chance and Hogan Lovells elected most lawyers among the group, promoting 19 and 17 respectively in the four-year period. They are followed by A&O, DLA Piper and Linklaters, which each made up 13. In 2011, Clifford Chance made 12 promotions in Asia, more than half its firmwide 23.

Freshfields, which has 32 partners and 165 lawyers in Asia, made only six promotions in the region over the four years, all in Hong Kong. This year only one of its 15 promotions was in Asia, in Tokyo.

In terms of practice areas, corporate and capital markets saw most promotions, banking and finance welcomed 19 to partnership, while dispute resolution claimed 22. These are the top three areas for promotions across the eight firms.

Two-thirds of the elected lawyers are of native ethnic background, rather than expats – a promising message for the talented and lucky lawyers of Asia.