The clichéd view of the Asia legal market is that it is a very difficult place for international firms to make money. Recent economic underperformance in China has not helped, although the flurry of office openings, hires and deals in the region over the last 12 months would suggest otherwise. Local alliances are the current vogue in China, with the likes of Linklaters and Ashurst opting for these often-complex arrangements.
But while the Asia region is dominated by China, based on recent activity it would seem the so-called secondary markets, like Japan, Singapore, South Korea and Indonesia, could be lucrative areas of interest. As Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) Greater China managing partner May Tai notes: ‘China remains the driver of growth and the story of our careers. However, activity in South-East Asia is just as busy, from the developed markets of Singapore and Malaysia to rapidly emerging markets, such as Laos and Cambodia.’