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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.
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
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.