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Discussion

Moving to Asia upon qualification
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Eyes-Wide-Open
Posted - 09 October 2016 15:38
Hello!

I would appreciate any advice you may have on my circumstances:

I am currently in my third seat at a large international firm. I will be qualifying in September 2017.

My long term girlfriend (and hopefully soon-to-be fiancée) has moved back to Singapore (where she is from). When my training contract ends, I'd like to follow her there.

Plan A is for me to move to an international firm in Singapore;
Plan B would be to move to an international firm elsewhere in Asia (HK, Thailand, etc.) and eventually go to Singapore;
Plan C, if I get a great NQ job offer in the London office with no or meagre prospects in Asia, would be to stay in London and for her to move to London, at least for a few years, but eventually for us to move to Singapore.

I was wondering if anyone had any advice about prospects in Singapore (or Asia generally) for an English qualified NQ with interests in litigation/arbitration. Can the move be made more or less smoothly even at such a junior level?

Are there any recruiters you might recommend speaking to?

My current firm has a small(ish) Singapore office, with a good litigation/arbitration team, but there is a fair amount of upheavel going on there at the moment, which appears unlikely to clear up in the near future, so recruitment prospects to my firm's Singapore office are slim. Even then, would anyone have any advice for trying to fish for a job there without appearing desperate/creepy?

Thank you for reading this overlong post, I appreciate it!


Ypells
Posted - 10 October 2016 11:45
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I did exactly the same thing and moved to Singapore on qualification. It was with the same firm I trained with. After a few years I returned to London. Although it was in a transactional role rather than a disputes role.

I think it was a good move. The deal sizes are not as big as in London but the quality of work and exposure was high. The level of experience you get is much better than what NQs get with the large firms in London. It is also good from a financial perspective as you pay a lot less tax.

A few thoughts:
- These days a lot of the roles in Hong Kong seem to require Mandarin. A move to HK is not necessarily a passport to Singapore, as HK offices tends to focus on China whereas Singapore offices tend to focus on South-East Asia.

- If you go to an international firm in Singapore to do disputes, the role will likely be an international arbitration role. International law firms are not permitted to conduct litigation in Singapore - local litigation is generally reserved exclusively for local law firms.

- I understand the pay offered by the top local Singaporean firms is substantially below the pay offered by international firms. You may also find there is a culture difference and I'm not sure if those firms would require a Singapore law qualification.

- I don't think upheaval affects your chances that much. The chances of whether there will be a job offered will simply depend on whether they have an opening for an NQ or not. There isn't a great deal you can do to control this. I think it is at least worth reaching out to the head of arbitration out there to see if there might be a role.

You could try Taylor Root or Nick Ryland at Formative Search for recruiters.
McGraw
Posted - 10 October 2016 15:13
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I am being actively encouraged by recruiters to move to Singapore or HK, as apparently they are in a much better position than the London market. I have qualified into shipping, but that is just litigation and arbitration so I should imagine the same would apply for you.

I have also been told that it is common for the recruiters to help people out there (into international firms) and then a few years later help bring them back to London. Unfortunately, due to illnesses in the family, I am not in a position to move, but I reckon you should go for it - you can always revert back in a couple of years if you are not a fan.

I have been mainly using BCL and Wadkins Associates for agencies.
Eyes-Wide-Open
Posted - 11 October 2016 12:02
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Thank you for the responses guys!
Indy Mouse
Posted - 10 November 2016 00:21
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Ypells is right about roles in int'l firms being transactional. Litigation is out of the question as it's ring fenced unless you want to qualify in SG (did you go to a qualifying uni in the UK? If not, no point thinking about it unless you want to do a 3 yr degree in SG). From what I've seen, a number of people start in SG and then end up in HK- not the other way around. Also, HK normally needs Mandarin (or other Chinese dialects) for juniors. You may need to rethink the area you would like to qualify in if you want to work in SG (but not be qualified there) as constitutional and administrative law, conveyancing, criminal law, family law, succession law, trust law and litigation are ring fenced.
tomorrow
Posted - 30 November 2016 14:35
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As a trainee-to-be in an international firm in Hong Kong, although mandarin is a pre-requisite for us locals, there are still incoming expats joining the force every year. As Ypells and Indy have correctly pointed out, very few expats come to HK to work in the litigation practice, there may be some in International Arbitration.

Btw, mind if I ask if it's a good idea to qualify in London and practice for a good few years after completing training in HK? Many thanks
Ypells
Posted - 15 December 2016 10:16
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Btw, mind if I ask if it's a good idea to qualify in London and practice for a good few years after completing training in HK? Many thanks

Personally, I think this is a good idea. London is still seen as a more sophisticated market than Hong Kong. It is also great fun to live in a different country for a bit!

That's not to say you have to go to London though. I don't think it is strictly necessary.
A_Lawyer
Posted - 03 March 2017 15:53
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EWO - PM me and I will recommend a recruiter who specializes in international placements.