Asia Pac 150: Headcount at Eversheds falls by 23.5 per cent

Eversheds dropped lawyer headcount in the Asia Pacific by 23.5 per cent in 2013. 

The firm is among many international firms trimming numbers and shifting strategies in the region in the face of growing competition, according to The Lawyer Asia Pacific 150 2014, which is published today (30 June).

While two thirds of the Top 50 international firms experienced a dip in lawyer headcount in 2013, Eversheds saw the biggest drop. 

However, Clifford Chance and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer have bucked the trend. The two firms boosted their numbers on the ground by 10 per cent and 51.5 per cent respectively.

Their magic circle competitor Allen & Overy saw a slight decrease in numbers of just over 2 per cent. Asia managing partner Thomas Brown said the slim-down was a sign of the market maturing.

“People aren’t looking over their shoulders at what the other firms are doing as much as they used to,” said Brown, adding that global firms are no longer following their rivals’ growth trends in the region. 

“That is the sign of a maturing market,” he argued. 

Brown continued: “Anyone who is going to come to the region is probably already here now. And the firms that are here are going through a period of slight consolidation, as they’ve have now stepped back and assessed their regional headcount needs.”

Baker & McKenzie, the largest global player in the region by both geographic spread and lawyer headcount, saw a slight two per cent dip in headcount even after opening two new offices in Asia – in Seoul and Myanmar. Turnover in the region, however, increased by 4.4 per cent to $677m from $648m in 2012.

The shrinking international firms in Asia Pacific, by lawyer numbers

Firm Name Total Lawyers 2012 Total Lawyers 2013 Lawyer % Change YOY*

Eversheds

68

52

-23.53

Orrick

91

76

-16.48

Taylor Wessing

79

67

-15.19

Vinson & Elkins

41

35

-14.63

Bird & Bird

82

71

-13.41

Herbert Smith Freehills     

1,130

986

-12.74

Norton Rose Fulbright

729

662

-9.19

O’Melveny & Myers        

110

100

-9.09

Ashurst

906

828

-8.61

Allen & Overy

357

349

-2.24

Source: The Lawyer Asia Pacific 150 2014

Note: * The year-on-year (y-o-y) headcount percentage change statistics are indicative only. Some of last year’s Top 150 firms provided full-time equivalent averages for the 2012 calendar year, while the number of lawyers in 2013 are actual figures as at the end of 2013.

For more analysis on the changing nature of the Asia Pacific legal market read our feature: Asia Pacific 150 2014: Year of the indie