The Lawyer today launches the inaugural edition of Asia Pacific 150, an in-depth guide to the most exciting legal scene in the world.
The Lawyer Asia Pacific 150 is the first research report of its kind, examining the 50 largest global firms operating in the region as well as the 100 top independent firms headquartered there.
The 100-page report provides not only an insight into headcount figures, number of offices and locations, and the clients, but also a objective perspective on how law firm business has developed in the region in recent years and what firms are doing to deal with those challenges.
The report reveals for the first time that home-grown firms are beginning to show signs of outpacing their international rivals in the region, with The Lawyer seeking financial results from the top 100 firms in the region. The Lawyer gained valuable insight into partnership structures, organisation and management structures, as well as relationships with key clients and foreign law firms.
A series of recent mergers, new entrants and market liberalisation in Asia Pacific, along with the impact of the global crisis, has significantly changed the pecking order and work portfolio of law firms in the region.
As the Asia Pacific becomes a critical part of the global legal services industry and its key economies and jurisdictions become more closely interlinked, the need for a holistic view of the legal landscape has never been greater.
DLA Piper’s Asia Pacific managing director Bob Charlton commented: “Asia Pacific’s proportion of the global legal market is set to continue to grow further in 2013. Insightful research and data on the region and industry will enable us to understand our sector, where it is going and plan for the challenges and opportunities ahead.”
To access the full Asia Pacific 150 report click here
In the main ranking tables, The Lawyer Asia Pacific 150 has decided to use lawyer headcount as the key benchmarking metric for the ranking based on two main reasons. First, firms from the vast majority of Asia Pacific jurisdictions are not accustomed to the same level of financial disclosure as UK and US firms. Only 28 per cent of the indigenous firms that have replied to The Lawyer’s questionnaire provided a turnover figure, and they are mostly headquartered in Australia and China. Only two provided both turnover and net profit figures. However, about half of the largest 100 indigenous firms gave a rough estimate of their turnover during the interview process.
The second reason is the region’s high degree of economic diversity. Key factors such as cost of living, legal fee rates and currency exchange rates vary greatly from one country to another. A ranking by a turnover figure in dollars is perhaps less indicative of local firms’ development across the wider region.
Using the lawyer headcount metric, firms from 13 jurisdictions across Asia Pacific made it into this year’s top 100 independent firms table, representing the rich regional diversity.
We recognise that the size of a firm reflects, to an extent, its economic scale, market presence, client demand, scope of practice and ability to deliver on large and complex projects. In addition, as these firms reach a critical mass it becomes economical for them to have a better support function and there is a stronger impetus to improve their management and organisational structure.
However, we also know that size does not equal quality, nor does it guarantee high-end mandates. The largest law firm in the region by lawyer headcount, Yingke, is a good example. The Beijing-headquartered firm has been expanding at a staggering pace in recent years and has made quite a few headlines for its office openings overseas.