Robert Sawhney, managing director, SRC Associates

Opinion: Why Asian markets are not necessarily the best option

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  • This may be one of the least insightful articles I have read in the Lawyer. I'm not sure who the target audience is, or if the author actually has anything to say which isn't obvious. Isn't anyone even slightly thinking about maybe expanding into Asia going to know about 100 times more than the article tells us? I'm not picking on the author - who for all I know may very well know lots about Asia - but the fact that this article says nothing at all that a reasonably intelligent law student wouldn't already be able to guess.

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  • This article is pretty vacuous. For one thing, in talking about the possible ways of tackling Asia it refers to two firms' Australian ventures - one a merger (Deacons and Norton Rose) and the other the poaching of a substantial team from an Australian firm (Allen & Overy and Clayton Utz). Asia and Australia are very different markets and discussions of the two should not be conflated. Vastly different considerations apply when considering how the two markets should be approached.

    The "problem" with the Australian legal market is probably less that it's small than that it is highly competitive. Australia has a surplus of lawyers and this drives down the incomes that lawyers, even top lawyers, can earn here. (A side effect of this and the quality of legal education in Australia is that Australia exports substantial numbers of lawyers to the UK, US and Asia.)

    Given Australia's surplus of lawyers, any firm looking to set up here has to work out how it is going to make it pay. An enhanced ability to recruit lawyers for Asia might be one advantage of an Australian office, but many UK firms have had no difficulty in recruiting Australian lawyers without incurring the cost of an Australian office.

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