The cost of hiring in Hong Kong

The $1.4m claim against Davis Polk & Wardwell by legal headhunter Alan Metz has caused a stir in the international legal recruitment industry, particularly as it concerns the hire of a two-partner Hong Kong disputes team from Clifford Chance.

The lawsuit was filed in the New York Supreme Court on 5 June with Metz alleging that he had a central role in Davis Polk’s hire of Clifford Chance’s Asian litigation head Martin Rogers and fellow partner James Wadham in December 2012.

According to the claim Davis Polk was “unjustly enriched” by sealing the hire without Metz, who claims to have carried out a large amount of legwork on behalf of the firm and the candidates.

The claim gives an interesting insight into just how much its costs to make top-notch hires in Hong Kong.

Based on a 22 per cent commission for the job placement plus the $1.4m damages claim, The Lawyer calculates that the costs of hiring these pair was as much as $6.4m.

When you consider that Rogers’ personal billings were, according to the claim, between HK$75m-100m (£6.4m-7m), his supervised billings stood at HK$200m (£17.4m), while his personal billing rate was HK$9,500 (£773) per hour, the question is was this a bargain investment for Davis Polk?

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